There I was! Getting into ice bath in Carlsbad, CA, at the Unbeatable Mind Experience. The shock of the cold water took my breath. I was breathing, or trying to, through my mouth in small gasps.
Coach Thompson was right! I regained control of my breath and got through the ice bath including 10 seconds of submerging my whole body.
I teach breath control and proper breathing to my clients because it is the first step in controlling our minds. Most people’s minds jump around like a monkey! They are easily distracted, and their mind jumps from one thing to the next. The Buddhist’s actually call this the monkey mind!
When most people sit down to do a breathing or meditation practice they think their mind should be clear or empty and when it’s not they get frustrated and quit! Thoughts will arise! It’s an absolute certainty.
Today I’m going to share 8 Steps with you that will lead you down the path of controlling and ultimately Winning In Your Mind. These assume you are box breathing.
Focus on One Thing
The breath is the easiest thing to focus on but you can also focus on the count. You can also open your eyes, soften your gaze, and bring your focus to an object that is close to you.
Try to keep your concentration on the one thing for long periods of time. You will get distracted by thoughts so be patient with yourself. You are trying to tame a lifetime of bad habits and this takes time.
Notice Shifts in Attention
When, not if, your mind wanders notice the shift and bring your attention back to the object of your concentration. Be gentle on yourself and withhold judgement. This is part of the process.
As you develop this practice the time between noticing your mind has shifted will improve. This is good! Keep it up.
Recognize the Witness
The part of your mind that notices your focus has shifted is your Witness. We talk about the Witness in our Big 4 Webinar and I’ve written about it many times. You are developing the Witness through this process!
Reseat Your Center of Attention
As you develop this practice you will begin to strengthen the Witness and it will be the center of your attention. It’s like your thoughts are playing out on a movie screen and your Witness is sitting back watching. You are developing Metacognition, the ability to think about your thinking.
Observe the Patterns of Thought
As you continue the practice relax your concentration and pay attention to the patterns of thought that come up in your mind. Simply observe the patterns and let them go. I like to visualize myself as a mountain during this part of my practice and I visualize the thoughts as clouds that are just passing by.
As you begin to notice patterns make a note of recurring patterns. We have somewhere between 50,000 and 80,000 thoughts a day and 90 to 95% of those are repeating patterns. Those may be the ones that are holding us back or preventing us from getting where we want to go. I’ll write about how we deal with these in another article.
Breathing practices and mediation aren’t about clearing our minds. They are ways to help us identify what we are thinking and what thought patterns may be holding us back.
As we begin to develop the Witness and see negative thought patterns come up, we can use the other tools in the W.I.R.M process to move back into a positive state of mind. We begin to control the mind and not let it control us. Developing the Witness is the first and most important step in controlling and winning in our mind.
It also helps us identify the recurring patterns on deeper levels that need to be dealt with so we can get to the next level of our development.
If you don’t have a breathing practice I’ve created a short breathing course to help you get started. Simply enter your name and email address in the form on the right and I’ll send you a link.
If you have questions or want to go deeper please contact me or setup a FREE coaching session!