At Win In Your Mind Coaching, the foundation of our mindset training is breath. Of all the tools we teach to our clients if there was only one they would take away from our program, we’d recommend it was the box breathing practice.
Controlling the breath allows us to control our minds and tame what Buddhists call the Monkey Mind. If you think about it, the mind can be like a monkey, jumping from thought to thought, easily distracted. As we intentionally focus on our breath, it allows us to begin to observe our thoughts. As we get better at observing our thoughts we can determine the quality of those thoughts. If the thoughts don’t serve us we have the power at that point to change them.
Observing our thoughts in this way is what we call developing our “Witness”. Our Witness watches our thoughts play out much like watching a movie on the big screen. The scientific term for thinking about our thinking is metacognition.
As our witness gets stronger, connecting with it allows us to observe our thoughts as events play out in our lives creating space between these events and our reaction. For example, if we get cut off in traffic, if we are connected to our witness, we can decide how we will react before we react on autopilot. Reacting on autopilot for most of us results in road rage.
This work is not easy to measure. How do we know it working? It’s easy to track progress training on the Physical Mountain. If I lifted more weight or ran further or faster, it’s easy to measure that. But how do we know if we are strengthening our Witness or creating longer intervals of space between thoughts and action? It’s hard to tell.
When I was going through the certification process, one of the Master coaches at Unbeatable, his name is Jim Brault, told us this great story that. It puts things into perspective.
The Hole In The Road
A guy is walking down the road and he falls into a hole in the middle of the road. The next day he goes back down the same road. He sees the hole, but he still falls in. The third day he’s going down the road, he sees the hole, but this time he goes around it. Finally, on the fourth day, he just takes a different road.
That’s how it is with training the mind. In the beginning, we don’t even realize what we’re doing and we have a reaction. We have a reaction to an event and fall into the hole. We don’t even know we’ve reacted until it’s over.
As we began to do the work, we see the event (the hole), but we still react. We see it, we want to react in a different way, but we don’t. We fall into the hole again. This is progress! We have created enough awareness in ourselves to see the event but not enough control to control our reaction!
Eventually we get to a point where we see the event, and our reaction is different. We have more control and we’re going around the hole.
Finally, we get to a point where we take a different road. When we are here we aren’t bothered by things that in the past would have triggered us.
Nobody is Perfect
If you do this work long enough you will get to a point where you are taking a different road. But nobody’s ever perfect. You may be taking a different road some days, and other days you may be seeing the hole and going around it. Other times you may fall in it, but those are good things too!
If we see a hole in the road or even fall into that hole, there may be something in there that we haven’t yet dealt with internally. Now that we’ve identified it, we can go forward with new awareness and work on it.
The point here is to have patience with the process and continue to work. If you continue to do the work, you will progress, and you will see results. And even perceived setbacks can be clues to new levels of internal work.
This article is really relevant for me today. I’ve been doing this work for a long time, but it’s been one of those days where I’ve seen A LOT of holes! I had my day planned but circumstances changed it, and every time I take a step forward it’s like taking at least one backward.
Seeing the holes and begin able to choose my reaction has been priceless today because my daughter has been with me and I certainly don’t want to react in unhealthy ways when I’m with her, which is a BIG reason why I am on this journey of self-mastery!
If you have any questions please comment below or reach out to me directly.
Also, if you want to start a box breathing practice and begin your own journey, you can get access to our box breathing course by entering your name and address to the form on the our website.