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The simple act of sitting and breathing can put you in a very powerful position.

Everybody’s minds will wander during the day. This is how the mind works and it is necessary. All of the sensations and feelings we experience need to be assembled and stored away for future use. These experiences are usually short bursts of fresh information that are overlaid against stored data. For instance, our eyes can only focus on a very small area at any given time; the rest of what we see is mostly remembered. When we walk into a room, we might look around and notice the chairs, windows and doors. If we sit on one of the chairs by the window and start reading a book, we will still know where the door is without having to check every moment. These memories of where things are are constantly replayed into our consciousness.

But when we sit and breath, we are effectively interrupting ourselves. We can stop and examine events around us and by paying close attention can look at how they make us feel. Once we start to consider these feelings, we can look at whether they stand up to scrutiny.

For instance, you may be in a meeting where a colleague appears to be deliberately ignoring you and passing over you as you try to interject with your ideas. It is very easy to allow frustration to build up. A little narrative can quickly form – you may tell yourself that they feel threatened by you, or that they feel that because the ideas are yours they are not worth hearing. Your brain may quickly throw in other instances of when this has happened before and so the story grows. You remember that time at university when your entire class seemed to be laughing at your controversial summary of the plays of Samuel Beckett, or when your physics teacher at school scoffed at your understanding of the flow of electrons through a wire. The brain loves to find patterns regardless of whether they have positive or negative implications for you. It will root through all of your memories until it has assembled a story. But it is your decision whether you listen to the story or not.

So, you’re back in the meeting. You clearly have something to say. The person running the meeting has their focus elsewhere. Breathe. Interrupt yourself. Don’t let the story build. Accept that your brain wants to tell you a story. Let the thoughts go. Bring yourself back into the moment. Concentrate on what is being said around you. Use that to refine the idea that you want to share. At any moment something could come up that may blow your idea out of the water. If you’re indulging in self-critical reveries, there’s a good chance you won’t notice. If it doesn’t, the time will come when you can impart your thoughts. And because you’ve been paying full attention it will be great.



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Comments ( 1 )

  • Listen - Plain Advice - Plain Advice says:

    […] On the other hand, if you’re merely filling time, you will notice jargon and buzzwords creeping out of your mouth. If you notice any “innovative”s, or, heaven help you, “paradigm”s and “omni-channel”s, then you can be certain that your mind is drifting. Use buzzwords as a trigger to interrupt yourself. […]

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