Guest blogger Dr. Heidi Hanna discusses the unique ability to be the conductor of your own energy using a two-step process to harness your attention.
Mental focusing exercises such as meditation will not only help you increase awareness, but they can also harness your attention in directions that will best serve you. This is best done in a two-step process – first creating mindfulness awareness and then tuning in to your mindsight. Mindsight is a kind of focused attention that allows us to see the internal workings of our own minds. Simply put, it is using your mind to consciously direct its attention.
This unique ability to be the conductor of our own energy is something that requires focused practice – but it’s one of the most important skills you can incorporate into your health, happiness and performance routine.
To create a mindsight meditation, we focus our attention in a particular direction that brings us a desired outcome such as positivity, gratitude, joy, patience or relaxation regarding a particular issue.
For example, while on a plane I not only use short meditation to bring my body and mind to a place of calmness, but I also focus my energy on visualizing the bumps as potholes or speed bumps on a street. The bumps no longer represent the scary fact that I’m up in the air in a big hunk of metal (which is where my mind initially goes), but rather that I’m driving in a Jeep through the back roads in Hawaii as I travel toward a gorgeous, remote spa.
So I might be a tad disappointed when I end up in a conference center instead of a resort, but the visualization leads my mind to a better place in the moment so that I can cope with the anxiety that once kept me from being able to fly.
A simpler example, perhaps, is learning to be okay with not being busy. This is a tough one for most people I know, and I have created a specific guided meditation just for this purpose. After bringing the body and mind to a relaxed, balanced state, you begin to focus your mental energy on visualizing how this relaxation exercise is filling up your energy tank so that you have more to give to others.
Rather than crashing on the couch at the end of the day, you see yourself at home playing with your children, fully energized and completely engaged. Or you imagine going to a networking meeting that invigorates you, rather than saps your energy, and leads to new opportunities, all because you had the energy you needed to be present.
You may find it helpful to script out a simple mindsight meditation for yourself that you can read or record to help direct your experience.
- Rewrite your story. Make sure the story you’re telling yourself about taking time out to relax is one that supports your efforts. If you consider relaxing a waste of time, you’re never going to commit to making it a habit. Connect relaxation to your purpose and your most important values.
- Schedule it, and set reminders. Even if you know the benefits of a relaxation practice, it’s easy to get caught up with work and completely miss the opportunity to recharge during the day. Just like any other new habit you’re trying to create, it’s important to put your practice in your schedule, make it a priority and set reminders for yourself. You may also want to use a timer to be sure you never go longer than 90 minutes without taking a break.
- Keep it simple. Overcomplicating relaxation defeats the purpose and may leave you feeling more stressed out. Keep it simple, and remember that even a minute or two of taking relaxing breaths can make a big difference.
- Be consistent. The more you practice relaxation training, the more your brain will start to see it as the norm, and the less you will have to be reminded to take breaks. Consistency is key to building new positive habits.
- Add accountability. Build in accountability for yourself by tracking your progress and sharing your goal with others. Join our Balanced Advisor LinkedIn page or start an accountability group to help you stay on track.
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About the Author
As an experienced speaker, Dr. Heidi Hanna has been featured at many national and global conferences, including the Fortune Magazine Most Powerful Women in Business Summit, ESPN Women’s Leadership Summit and the Million Dollar Round Table. She is founder and Chief Energy Officer of Synergy, a consulting company providing brain-based health and performance programs for organizations, and the Executive Director of the American Institute of Stress.
Dr. Hanna’s publications include The New York Times bestseller The SHARP Solution: A Brain-Based Approach for Optimal Performance (Wiley, Feb 2013), Stressaholic: 5 Steps to Transform Your Relationship with Stress (Wiley, Jan 2014) and Recharge: 5 Shifts to Energize Your Life (Synergy, 2015). Dr. Hanna is a National Board Member for the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, a Fellow with the American Institute of Stress, and she currently serves as editor of their quarterly publication, Contentment. Recently, Dr. Hanna created The Beyond Funny Project, a non-profit dedicated to providing resources and education related to the benefits of healthy humor.
Dr. Hanna holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Penn State University and holds a master’s degree in mental health counseling and a Ph.D. in holistic nutrition.
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