It's 7:00 am and as I wake up I habitually reach for my phone. Do you do the same?
I notice. I stop. I take a breath and make a decision - not today. Today I will connect with what is important, what is real and I'll take my sweet time about it. I'll leave the smartphone off for a bit.
I have realised for myself (and for many of my clients), that the overstimulation from smartphones, TV, advertising, fast-paced movies and click bait is one of the key reasons that we struggle to focus. Rather than go into the science (which you can find here or a video) I'd like to offer you some experiential learning. It'll take 5 minutes.
(Here is my short video to guide you)
Go sit in stillness for 3 minutes.
Tune into your bodily sensations as you take five deep in-breaths, through the nose, into a soft belly, letting out five long and smooth out breaths through an open mouth, allowing a sound (like the ocean). Close your eyes.
Notice how it all feels.
Yes your mind will be buzzing still, and that's ok. Keep breathing and refocusing on sensations, relaxing your face and smiling a little, if you like. Count your breath for the remainder of the time as you feel the body. 1 (in), 2 (out)... Restart after 10 counts. (5 breaths total).
Relaxation Response - Tuning in.
This is what I call 'Relaxation Response'. It settles your nervous system and helps you connect to what is real. Notice how it is at least 10% more peaceful and you even feel more alive? Well, now let's mess that up...
Next, pick up the smartphone
Load up YouTube, or FaceBook or Instagram etc. Stare at it as you monitor you breathing, sensations and feelings in your face. Notice how your eyes dart around and thoughts in your mind get faster and faster.
Close your eyes. Notice the difference.
Stay with it and notice the urges inside, the craving for more stimulation. It is like fuel for the fire. Dompanie has been activated. The mind has received tiny rewards and it naturally craves more.
Restart, for one minute.
Now try the 'Relaxation Response' one more time. Just a minute this time. Notice the difference. The more you practice the less time it takes to reset and reconnect.
Try it yourself
This experiment has shown me just how I feed my own addiction and destroy my own ability to focus. The constant craving for immediate stimulation detracts from my ability to deep focus on creative endeavours.
Time to focus
So now I put on some repetitive music, set a timer and get to work. I love the feeling of deep focus, when I feel the difference. I hope you do to.
If you'd like to practice or learn techniques like this please come onto the course I'm running soon: "Mindfulness and Emotions" beginning on October 1st. Book Here.
Every morning I forget. I wake up brand new and forget that I'm OK, that life is beautiful, as it is, that this is a gift and life owes me nothing.
So everyday I have to remind myself. Like someone with a memory condition I proactively build into my daily habits practices that reconnect me to the deep, felt knowing and wisdom. This blog will show you my routine and inspire you to make your own.
I want to act with wisdom, to build a strength of character that focuses my energy and attention on what is truly important, and not get caught up in the petty dramas and confusions of my mind.
ROUTINE OR CHECKLIST
The way that I have found to do this is to have a morning routine, or at least a checklist that has within it some of the key components to help me step back from petty thoughts and to infuse my whole body with my deeply considered values before I launch into the action of the day. These components are:
NOT TOO RIGID
Within this I have found that I cannot always do all of them, or dedicate the time I would like to each, or do it in the order I want. That's OK. The main thing is that I begin. I pick one to do and then check them off, often setting a deadline for completion so that I do not over indulge. I will often use a timer to help guide me, allowing a maximum of 20 minutes per section.
WHAT OTHER THINK DOESN'T MATTER
I have been mocked and criticised by others who think I am wasting my time. I have had my own doubts too. Sometimes I can use this routine to avoid work, or some other issue. But I know that I would avoid it anyway - we all have avoidance strategies. I have found the two most important elements in this routine are the journalling and the movement outside. These two can really help me step back from the petty mind thoughts and reconnect with my deeper desires. The thing that really helps me with those...
If you want to start a morning routine I highly recommend preparing a playlist, or some sounds that help keep you focused as you do it. I love the sounds of chanting as I meditate and journal. I love upbeat songs as I go into nature.
AVOIDANCE BLOCKS (SMARTPHONE!)
And finally, the thing I do most often that stops me is... I over-think and then go onto my smartphone for relief. What this does is actually increase my thoughts, whilst numbing my body. I have to remind myself of this again and again. I prepare all sorts of things to help me, but overall, the STOP technique really drives this home the most. If you want to read about that click here.
If you'd like help setting up a morning routine, or finding a more healthy balance in your life and cultivating the ability to step back from petty thoughts get in touch now.
"Neil really helped me overcome negative thinking and get on with my day! Love it, Thank you Neil." - Shane
Neil Morbey is a meditation teacher, group facilitator and inspiration guide for Positively-Mindful.com