How To Improve Mental Clarity And Focus?
For everybody who cannot stop thinking and has never meditated but want to.
Find The Treasures In The Silence II – My Personal Journey Into Silence
I the first part of this blog I was addressing distractions and that so-called Multitasking as the grand enemies of being in the flow and focus, and enjoying a quiet mind.
Coping with frequent distractions and trying to accomplish more and faster, utilizing multitasking will stress you more than you think, cost you more energy than you think, motivation and in long term also creativity that is occurring especially when your mind is empty and in a relaxed state.
Getting used to that type of brain stress – and the human body possesses an absolutely incredible ability to adjust to the life conditions you create for yourself – will encourage your brain to develop matching brain patterns which will allow the brain to reduce the metabolism and save energy.
This can be described by the famous quote by the neuropsychologist, Donald Hebb, who first used this phrase in 1949: “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” He wanted to describe how neural pathways in the brain are formed and reinforced through repetition to serve or to cause stress for you.
I experienced such brain stress the first time while I was writing my master theses. In a period of six months, I was constantly thinking about my scientific topics that caused an overreaction of the neural circuits and uneasy and restless mind. The result was that I ended up with a depressive episode and almost quit my studies.
The second opportunity to experience a heavy and long term brain stress I manifested during my doctoral theses. This time the brain stress was extended over a period of about five years. That combined with a new scientific project and my NLP Coaching Training (NLP = neurolinguistic programming) lead me into Burnout Syndrome from that I recovered after several months. However, to find back to my great performance took me over two years. I will come back to this point a little later.
So, please, please learn from my experience and spare yourself the brain troubles! It wasn’t fun for me!
How Do You Empty Your Mind?
But how can you empty and calm down your mind? Also here, there are several ways what and how you can do it. You will find different methods and tools on my website as e.g. breathing techniques and meditations, Ho’oponopono Prayer, trance and self hypnosis, etc. Each one of these techniques is a certain way to meditate.
All of them are good to modulate your brain (physiological) and your mind (mental) and quieting both. All of them are a special way to meditate.
By the way: Your mind is not your brain! Your mind is a part of the expression of your Free Will to look on and deal with certain things and actions. Your brain is a physiological organ that takes care for the entire body activity, all what is necessary for being alive and active, and that reflects what you are experiencing, doing, feeling and thinking.
Help! Fleas In My Head – My Experience Of Being Restless
What is meditation? A very short answer is a rest, a rest from the outside world, a rest also of the inner world. There is no inner dialog. There is no thinking what is the optimal case.
Our brain is pretty energy consuming monster that uses about 25 percent of the entire oxygen consumption and 25 percent of the entire body energy. The brain never sleeps. Also, during the night-rest, the brain is sorting through all that stuff we experienced and learned during the day. It also takes care of the metabolism toxins and detoxifies itself every night – if we let it do its job.
Therefore, our brain is naturally equipped with a recovery function. After about 90 minutes of more or less concentrated working, it falls completely on its own into a trance to rest. And again here, if we allow it to do so!
The trance state can last from a few seconds up to several minutes.
Especially when we are stressed or/and in hurry, we don’t accept the trance. Instead of getting quiet for a while and restore, we push us with coffee or other energizers and continue to work. We dismiss the requirement of the body to rest.
Stop doing that! Utilize the natural trance for a short meditation!
How I stated, meditation is a state of resting and quiet. There is an entire science behind meditation and many, many ways to do it. Often schools and systems compete with each other and argue which one is the best.
You can easily get caught up in the web of meditation details like e.g. keeping your eyes direction up to your eyebrows, sitting in certain positions, doing certain things in a certain order. Of course, all those details can make sense in a particular situation and offer you support for building good meditation routines.
I used many different ways to meditate, and of some of them, I didn’t even know it is a meditation.
As a child I spent hours hidden somewhere in the back yard, enjoying the afternoon sun with eyes closed, absorbing the warm, bright sun rays. When I was old enough being able to leave my parents’ home, I walked or rode my bicycle into nature where I watched the life pulsing in the leaves, blossoms, raindrops, birds and other animals.
I always desired to keep my feet on the natural surface of the planet in woods, on meadows, on mountain trails, beaches, big stones, wandering, sitting or laying on the ground absorbing the light and the moisture of the grass, enjoying the elements. I didn’t know that it was meditation.
Later on, I tried to learn how to do Yoga but failed following complicated description and steps how to breathe.
So I learned that Yoga was nothing for me and didn’t touch it for almost three decades.
In the 1990s I found a brain wave system called Hemi-Sync that I used for a few years and that helped me to develop a more focused mind. I also got some results with the inner calmness. The Hemi-Sync-Suite was working with brain waves, while you did an autogenic training relaxation and created certain simple objects in your mind.
I didn’t really know for what I was looking at that time. Whatever it was, I wasn’t able to find it.
Eventually, I somehow got everything done in my life what I have chosen to do until I decided to become a life coach in 2007. That time I was finishing up my doctoral theses, I was finishing up my scientific project and simultaneously starting a new scientific project. Because there was a strong demand in me and somehow I still could see some room for it, I started my training to coach.
You probably already anticipate that trying to combine all those activities condensed at some point into a disaster. I broke down with a Burnout. To dissolve the acute period took me about four months. To find back to my strong performance for about two years.
You may wonder how I managed those three and a half positions simultaneously?! I didn’t know many things about how the brain is working. Many neurological processes I learned and understood later when I supported my students getting better results by learning and studying.
However, I did lots of things in the right way for the brain to amplify my performance and productivity. When you perform tasks including a lot of movement as e.g. mowing a lawn you use mainly the sensorimotoric area of the brain. When you look at things use the visual cortex of the brain, a part of the cerebral cortex, which processes visual information. It is located in the back of the skull. When you learn, plan, set goals, make decisions, short, when you are performing thinking tasks you use the prefrontal cortex that sits behind your forehead.
Tasks of different complexity and difficulty require a different level of neural arousal. The more complex and challenging your task the more neural arousal is necessary to start and accomplish the task. If your brain arousal is too low, it is very hard to start and to motivate to perform the task. On the other hand, you waste lots of energy when you postpone your task again and again, and your inner guard sends to you reminder again and again.
Intuitively I knew to utilize the power of my brain shifting from one type of task to another. In the morning I started to set goals for the day – my warm-up – accomplished my writing goal for the day – or tried to – and did some organizing. My breaks I mainly filed with homework when I worked at home, and when I worked in my office I went for a walk.
However, my brain produced a lot of arousals all the time. I was working – the longest workday I remember was 18 hours long mostly filed with high-performance tasks – or I was thinking what to do next.
I wasn’t able to stop my thoughts not even for a few seconds. And of course, I wasn’t able to meditate.
What I did to take a break from thinking was reading. I have read tons of novels during that time.
During my training to become a coach, I understood that I needed to change many processes in me to be able to help others. I worked on myself and I worked hard. With my training, I got access to many cool methods like Pika Pika Breathing Technique and other breathing techniques, Ho’oponopono, or cleaning up my mind asking the right questions.
I also needed to clean up my mind from all my “I have to’s,” and I did it. I’m still on my way. Of course, I am.
What Is Meditation And How To Meditate?
What is meditation? Meditation is when we meet ourselves. If you think you cannot meet yourself in the meditation because of all those thoughts running through your mind, you meet yourself in pretty bad shape. I such a bad shape I was in the past too.
I didn’t know how to use the moments of trance the brain is creating naturally. I started to meditate and if you believe or not, I could manage only a few seconds without thinking. My first meditations allowed me to be free of thoughts only for about five seconds. I recall having celebrated my first ten seconds without any thoughts.
Because I couldn’t meditate well, I frequently used the Autogenic Training that is a desensitization-relaxation technique developed by the German psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz, and that was first published in 1932, I knew how to relax my body. I also used the Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) developed by Edmund Jacobson in the 1920s that is really beneficial for heavy thinkers. The body is a system and to relaxing the muscles also relax the mind. The PMR technique involves tightening of one muscle group after another for several seconds while keeping the rest of the body relaxed, and then releasing the tension of the muscles. I will write more about those methods later on in my blog.
In preparation to meditate, I used one of the muscle relaxation methods and then I tried to dive into thoughtlessness.
My first favorite way to meditate was to count my breaths, and then at some point, I was able to have a tiny space free of thinking. After a while, I was able to empty my mind for a few minutes. This time duration extended since then more and more.
How do you do it? You inhale consciously and little slower than usual and fill up your chest and your belly with air. The scientific term for belly breathing is Diaphragmatic Breathing.
Diaphragmatic Breathing is a type of breathing that supports you to strengthen your diaphragm muscle. The diaphragm is an important muscle and one of the biggest muscles in the body that helps you to breathe. This breathing is also sometimes called belly breathing or abdominal breathing, and it is a deep-breathing technique that engages the diaphragm. While you inhale, the diaphragm contracts and moves downward. That movement causes decreasing of adrenalin in your blood system and less stress in the body.
It is not important how you meditate. It is important that you meditate!! That you allow your mind – and it is really YOUR CHOICE – to be quiet.
Simple sit down or lay down comfortably and take a deep breath. Exhale through your nose or through your mouth. Do it again. Is it easy? Isn’t it? Once again.
Do it a few times and listen inwards. If you cannot rest, walk and do the breathing. Don’t worry about how it turns out. Simple do your breathing. If you manage a few seconds without thinking, GREAT! If you manage several seconds, FANTASTIC!
Start! Start small and allow you to grow!
A good way to meditate is also to create a good routine of how, where and when you meditate. Schedule the time for meeting you and commit to it.
This is all I ask you in this blog.
I hope you enjoyed my meditation story and feel better about your own meditation progress.
I also hope you started your own process and gained many benefits from it.
I would love to read your comment about how the first steps worked out for you and the experiences you made. So, please take a couple of minutes and give me feedback! If you have any questions, please, send them also! I would love to support you on your way!
Please, join me in the next part of the blog.
Until then all the best for you!
Sending you love and light!
Live up to you!