We’ve all heard about the power of meditation. It’s been shown to ease depression, improve mental functioning, and reduce stress and anxiety. It also reduces what I call Quantum Toxins – thought patterns or attachments to negative feelings that actually influence our physical chemistry.
Meditation quiets the “monkey mind,” the constant, un-directed thinking that often brings anxiety, worry, and distraction into our everyday lives. Even taking five minutes to practice meditation can bring us back into the present moment, encourage better decision-making, and allow us to truly experience our lives to the fullest.
Step 1: Get Comfortable & Breathe
Sit up in a chair with your back straight. Place your feet flat on the floor under your knees. Rest the palms of your hands on your thighs and relax your arms. Look straight ahead but try not to focus anywhere in particular. Instead, notice everything in the room at once. Take a deep breath and start feeling your feet. Feel them touching the floor or the inside of your shoes. Feel the temperature, the humidity; feel the texture of your socks. Feel your feet intensely from inside. Do not “think” about them, just feel them, sense them.
Step 2: Scan Your Body with Attention
After a few breaths, move your attention to your calves. Feel and sense these for several breaths. Then move your attention from body part to body part, first to your thighs, then your bottom against the chair, then to your abdomen and lower back, your chest and upper back, your shoulders, your arms, your hands, your neck, face, and lastly your head. Then let your awareness cover your whole body at the same time. The idea is to “scan” your body with your attention, stopping for a few breaths on each part. This practice will strengthen your ability to direct and hold your attention.
Step 3: Thank Your Monkey Mind for Sharing
You may notice that the moment you sit down, you start remembering things and feel the urge to act on them. This is part of the process. When those thoughts come and try to steal your attention away from your body, simply say silently to yourself, “Thank you for sharing,” and direct your attention back to your body. If you feel discomfort or frustration and want to stop, just keep sitting still. Know that the discomfort you feel is not caused by the exercise itself. It’s what happens when you become aware of your baseline state, that underlying anxiety you are typically not aware of when the outside world is at full volume and your attention is far from your body. Becoming aware of this underlying state is the first step toward dissolving it, and claiming back the energy it consumes.
Step 4: Where did that thought come from?
When you find yourself consumed by your monkey mind, try for a second to separate your attention from your thoughts and re-focus it on the present. Ask yourself: “Who is deciding that I think these thoughts? If I had a choice, would I be thinking about them?”
If your answer is no, say to your thoughts: “Thank you for sharing!” then immediately direct your attention to something in the present. For example, you can focus your attention on your feet. Again, this doesn’t mean think about your feet but feel them. This small boost of awareness breaks through habitual thought patterns that lead away from the present moment and into distracted thoughts. Anchor your attention into the present moment as often as you can.
Step 5: Use Anytime, Anywhere
This technique can also be used in the middle of any stressful situation like a business meeting or a job interview. When we are nervous, it is because our unconscious thoughts are interpreting, judging, measuring, and expecting. This unconscious process consumes vital energy and builds anxiety.
By re-directing our attention to our body and breath, we reclaim that wasted energy. It may be hard to remember to do this in difficult situations. Start with easy ones. Then try to do it in harder and harder ones. My personal experience is that if I am even present for a split second, and remember to redirect my attention into my body, immediately the energy of the situation shifts. When you become more present, others in the room feel it as well.
Practicing being present will help clear out Quantum Toxins from your mind. You will begin to be able to use your energy and attention to stay present and be more productive. This practice will also help you be more aware of the decisions you are making about what you eat. Practicing this simple 5-minute meditation is a great way to help clean the mind, body, and strengthen your ability to stay present and anxiety-free throughout the rest of your day.
By Dr. Alejandro Junger