Acclaimed leadership expert Susan Pearce commented recently that on an average day we have around 50,000 thoughts and 12,000 internal conversations. A busy mind can be detrimental to your happiness. It leads to clutter, mistakes being made and opportunities being lost, not to mention stressed individuals with a work/life balance out of whack.
She reminds us that if we train our mind to slow down and de-clutter, we can greatly reduce our stress levels.
Here are three exercises that Susan Pearce recommends you can do to tame your busy mind and get some clarity and focus in busy times to reduce your stress levels…
The power of the pause
Do you go through your day racing from one thing to the next without even taking a breath? If so, the pause is for you! The pause is a simple mental pause where you rest your attention on one of your senses. Stop what you are doing, sit down close your eyes and take three long breaths, focusing on nothing but your inhalation and exhalation. The pause is usually only a few seconds but can change your day. Pausing often throughout the day is a way of ‘clearing the slate’ so you can focus. Here are some ways of doing it:
- Pause at the end of each task just before you start another task.
- When the phone rings while you are working on another task, pause and listen to the phone ring for a few seconds before picking it up. Alternately, touch the receiver before answering.
- Pause whenever you are interrupted in the middle of a task by feeling the feet on the floor for a few seconds before you turn your attention to the person interrupting you.
The magic of mindful listening
Do you have conversations and later have no idea what has been said? Because we spend part of each day in interaction with others, listening is a perfect activity for training your mind to be clear and focused. Mindful listening is listening with full attention. This means that we listen without comment, distraction or anticipation of what will be said. Here are some ways you can do it:
- In a discussion that seems to drag on simply bring your attention to the sound of the speaker’s voice without judgement or comment.
- When you are talking on the phone stop doing all other tasks and focus attention on the sense of hearing.
- When interacting with people whom you have formed strong ideas and opinions about, put these aside by directing attention away from your thoughts about that person and onto what they are saying.
The charm of connecting with your senses
A busy mind often arises because you are thinking about the past and future and are not grounded in the present moment. Your five senses are your gateway to the present because they are always in the ‘here and now’. Connect to your senses throughout the day to keep your mind fully in the present and attend to the activity or task you are doing. Here are some ways you can try this:
- Use the sense of touch to bring your attention to a project you are working on – be aware of the pen in your hand or your fingertips touching the keyboard.
- When you are eating, connect your mind to the sense of taste.
- Whenever you are doing anything – cleaning, washing up, gardening – stay present with the sense that you are using most at the time.
- When you are driving, feel your hands on the steering wheel and focus on being fully present through sight.
All of these exercises train your mind to be clear and present focused. Before long you will notice that you are taming your busy mind and your happiness will greatly benefit.