Calming your monkey mind

We are all frantically busy. We can’t relax. Our down time is spent checking Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Our minds are twisting, swinging in all directions, and leaping from branch to branch.

In Buddhism it is aptly called Monkey Mind. And it impacts your health by increasing stress as well as your productivity by reducing your ability to focus.

Take 5 minutes to calm your mind, and I guarantee you will have a calmer and more productive day. Try this simple breathing and meditation exercise.

Close your eyes or focus gently on one spot in the room. Set your intention for the day ahead. Set it as a positive affirmation. For example, if you want to be calm today, think: “I am calm.” If you want to be productive, think: “I am productive.”

Now, roll your shoulders slowly forward and then slowly back. Lean your head gently from side to side, lowering your left ear toward your left shoulder, and then your right ear toward your right shoulder. Relax your muscles. Unclench your jaw, and relax the furrow in your brow.

Observe your breathing. Notice how your breath flows in and out. Don’t change your breathing, but simply notice how your body breathes. Sit quietly, imagining your breath flowing gently in and out of your body.

When your attention wanders, as it will, just focus back again on your breathing. If you can’t focus easily, think to yourself, “I breathe in… I breathe out…”

Notice any stray thoughts, but don’t dwell on them. Simply let the thoughts pass.

See how your breath continues to flow…deeply… calmly. As thoughts intrude, allow them to pass, and return to your breathing. As you inhale, count silently… one, two, three. Hold for a moment. As you exhale, count…one, two, three. Hold for a moment, and repeat several times.

Notice now how your body feels.  Keeping your eyes closed, register the sounds around you. Feel the floor beneath your feet. Feel your clothes against your body. Remember your positive affirmation for the day.

Wiggle your fingers and toes. Shrug your shoulders. Open your eyes, but remain sitting for a few moments longer. Then, straighten out your legs, and stretch your arms and legs gently.

Experience your body reawakening and your mind returning to the tasks at hand. Feel the increased energy for the tasks ahead. By calming your mind and body, you can clear your head to make way for maximum productivity! Namaste!

By Lisa Pafe, APMP CPP Fellow, APMP-NCA Vice President

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