Do you find it difficult to sit still for long periods of time? I do. This ability to be still and to mindfully sit has been called “embodied presence.” I’m working on getting more of it. In our last blog, I talked about three of the alarming, current trends in human behavior—behavior patterns that are stealing us away from stillness. These are:
High Functioning Anxiety
“Anxiety is the new depression, with more than half of all American college students reporting anxiety. Recent research shows anxiety—characterized by constant and overwhelming worry and fear—is now 800 percent more prevalent than all forms of cancer.” —Dr. Joseph Mercola
“Virtually all the world’s ills boil down to mindlessness.” —Ellen Langer, Professor of Psychology at Harvard
“An iDisorder is where you exhibit signs and symptoms of a psychiatric disorder such as OCD, narcissism, addiction or even ADHD, which are manifested through your use (or overuse) of technology.” —Larry Rosen, Ph.D., author of IDisorder
The next question is: How do I reclaim my ability to be mindful, still and present? Let’s address these trends and offer effective steps to reclaim your sense of self and peace of mind from each.
Reclaim from Anxiety
Protecting oneself from being overtaken by anxiety is something Dr. Joseph Mercola addresses in depth. If you’re not familiar with this respected and remarkable gentleman, take the opportunity to do so. Here are actions we’ve translated from Mercola’s work, so you can decrease the exposure you may be accumulating from anxiety inducing agents.
- Stop microwaving your food and start using the stovetop. (Here)
- Use EMF shields on your cell phones. (Here)
- Decrease your exposure to microwave radiation from devices such as Wi-Fi routers, smart meters, baby monitors, cell phone towers and portable phones. (Here)
- Learn to use your breath to intricately reconnect to a mental state that moves you out of anxiety. (Here)
- Consider purchasing and practicing the exercises in the book, Anxiety Free: Stop Worrying and Quieten Your Mind by Patrick McKeown. As a Buteyko Breathing expert, McKeown intended this book to be a method for treating anxiety. (Here)
- Consider spending more time in parks, forests, and nature or environments filled with sounds from nature. (Here)
- For more ideas regarding how to treat anxiety, read this article or search key words related to your concerns on Dr. Mercola’s website. (Here)
Reclaim from iDisorder
The key to releasing yourself from the grips of iDisorder is to start small. You will want to use an alarm or interval timer and allow yourself 1 minute to check any communication network. Once the 60 seconds are over, set your timer for 15 minutes. Turn off and turn away from any electronic alert system or any electronic device that you can. Work through the 15 minutes, holding yourself and your attention to your task at hand. After the 15 minute alarm rings, you can allow yourself 1 minute to check email, texts, voice message and the like. Then get back to work for another 15 minutes. Repeat the process throughout your workday or as needed.
Here are keys to using Larry Rosen’s methodology as outlined in his book iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us (see on Amazon here).
- When you turn your alarm to the 15-minute mark to start working, turn your phone on silent, placing it face down. Or even better, place your phone far away from your working space.
- Close out all the distracting windows and prompts on your desktop. To be clear, you are shutting down all notifications during your 15-minute work period.
- Enlist an accountability partner to check on you and your progress. Have a check-in text once a day for at least 10 working days.
- Alert your friends, family and close associates that you won’t be responding right away during this “reclaiming” period.
- Train your mind to respond to your schedule instead of to electronic distractions.
- Once you are comfortable with the 1-minute/15-minute ratio, bump your work time up to 20 minutes then to 25 and eventually to 30 minutes.
- “Once you’re at 30 minutes,” Rosen says, “you’ve retrained your brain.”(Read Tips For Staying Focused via businessinsider.com)
Reclaim from Mindlessness
When we make thoughtless decisions, adhere to labels and categories, and clamp down on our favorite perspectives, we’re practicing mindlessness. (Read The Mindful Chronicles via harvardmagazine.com)
So what’s the anecdote? Practice the inverse of each mindless action.
Instead of deferring to someone’s opinion or perspective, study and find your own conclusions. For example, instead of taking a doctor’s opinion and diagnosis as gospel, find out answers for yourself. Research and interview other people. Get second, third and fourth opinions from Doctors and qualified specialists and then draw your own conclusions.
Reject labels and categories and stop using language that affects your own health, well-being and mindset in a negative manner. Start using language that affirms the best possible outcome. For example, Ellen Langer did a study with breast-cancer survivors. Those who considered and spoke like they considered themselves in remission were reported to have worse general health conditions, more pain, and depression than those who considered themselves cured and spoke in such terms. (Read How Language Effects Your Wealth Health via scientificamerican.com)
“Our words create our worlds.”
—Judith Glaser, Conversational Intelligence
Reframe and redirect thinking away from mindless mindsets. For example, in a recent experiment, Langer and her student Alia Crum focused on a group of 84 hotel workers who claimed they never exercised. Langer and Crum told half of these employees that being on their feet, cleaning, and pushing carts for 8 hours a day was exercise like unto being at the gym. One month later, the group that was told this showed statistically significant changes. On average, they had lost two pounds, lowered their blood pressure by 10 points, while reducing their waist-to-hip ratios. None of this group reported changes in eating habits or working hours. Those in the control group who had not been given the “gym and exercise” perspective showed no significant changes. In fact, Langer reported, “That group actually gained body fat.” (Read Mind-Set Matters via harvard.edu)
Reclaiming your Stillness the SoulSalt Way
Here are three of our favorite SoulSalt “stillness” activities. Clients report gaining benefits from enlisting them into daily routines (see author’s notes for a list of benefits reported by our clients).
Read 2-Minutes a Day to be a Badass!
Read Walking Meditation via Liveanddare.com
Access Random Moments
There are infinite ways to get quiet and feel the stillness of your soul. These are the random minutes that occur when one is waiting for an appointment, knitting, taking a shower, falling asleep, waking up, putting a puzzle together, doodling, hiking, cleaning a dish. The idea is to be completely present and silent in that moment. Dump any expectation around what it should look or feel like. Simply enjoy the moment, in the moment, in silence.
Some of our clients have reported the following benefits when enlisting a “stillness” practice: