You’re sitting at your desk at work when you realize that you feel disconnected from yourself, you feel anxious and tense, and your mind is full of
half-formed thoughts. You seem to have lost your presence of mind, your inner equilibrium thrown off.
At such times, a simple exercise in awareness can totally shift the energy and change your perspective. The Mindful Reset can take as long as 10 seconds or one minute to do.
Firstly, when you notice that you’re feeling out of sorts, simply stop what you’re doing, close your eyes if you can, and notice your breathing.
Follow the breath as it comes in, and follow it as it goes out. Notice what the breath feels like. Is it relaxed and easy from the beginning to the end? Is your breathing tight or squeezed?
Noticing how the breath is also helps you notice if there are any sensations of tension or tightness in the body. Follow the breath as it travels through your body to become aware of any
sensations of discomfort or contraction that are making themselves known. Notice wherever the body feels tight or tense; acknowledge those sensations without needing to get rid of them. You can
invite those parts of the body to relax, but do it softly, not as a command but as a kind request. Simply bringing awareness to how your breathing and body are can begin to relax them.
Secondly, notice what your state of mind is like. What thoughts are present? Are they thoughts of the future or the past? Are they thoughts of worry, planning, remembering, judging, and figuring out? Is your mind clear, collected, unified? Or is it dull, muddy, scattered? Just notice what’s going on in your mind without any judgment or self-criticism. Again, simply bringing awareness to how your mind is and what thoughts might be present gives you important information about what is driving your behavior right now. When you are aware of what patterns are present in the mind, you are less likely to be controlled by them.
Thirdly, notice what the emotional tone is like in your experience. Underneath those physical sensations and thoughts, what emotions might be present? Is there worry, fear, sadness, anger, anxiety, doubt, frustration? Again, don’t feel like you need to get rid of the emotions. Just noticing the emotional tone of any experience gives you greater freedom in responding wisely.
When you give yourself the space to notice how you are, your mind starts making adjustments that will bring you back to equilibrium. This is called a closed feedback loop. The system of mind-body is working to bring you back into balance.
You can do the Mindful Reset at any time. While at your work space, before entering a meeting, while walking to lunch, or while driving your car (with your eyes opened, of course!).
The Mindful Reset doesn’t magically solve all your problems or remove all your pain. What it does do is put you in touch with yourself from the non-judgmental perspective of awareness. Without this perspective, we contract and tense up when faced with a challenge. We are under the control of the reactive mind. With the non-judgmental perspective of awareness, we release, let go, and see the big picture. We are being guided by the responsive mind. Mindfulness returns us to the clear-headed perspective from which it is easier to see how to meet our challenges and live our lives with more wisdom and balance.
Bill Scheinman is a Senior Consultant and Facilitator with the Potential Project, the leading global provider of corporate mindfulness training. He is a graduate of teacher trainings in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction from the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, and teaches MBSR classes in San Francisco and Berkeley. Bill is currently a member of the Community Dharma Leaders Program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Bill’s next class starts on May 3, 2016 in Oakland. Learn more or sign up.
Visit http://stressreductionatwork.com/mindfulness-blog/ for more blog posts from Bill.