How to Use Meditation to Become Smarter and More Efficient
Following these six simple steps to keep you mind sharp will allow you to be more effective and enhance your natural abilities to concentrate!
This is great a meditation to practice before you begin a project, start your work day, or retire before bed.
Step 1. Allow your body to completely relax
Scan your body slowly. Start with your toes and feet – allow your feet to relax. Feel them becoming heavy on the floor. Allow your awareness to rise up to the ankles, calves, and shins.Feel them melting into the earth; no effort is needed. Feel the space in the knee joints. Move slowly higher. Relax the thighs.Feel them become heavy, warm, soft. Notice your buttocks, hips, and groin relaxing; they too become soft and warm. If you have done a lot of hip work in your practice, linger here for a while feeling the openness, the flow of energy through the hips.Now allow your awareness to come to the tailbone, Feel your sacrum and lower back release into the floor.
Feel your lower back and stomach muscles relax. Allow this sensation to rise up the spine.
Feel each vertebra and the space between them and their alignment.
Allow the upper back muscles and the shoulder blades to sink into the floor. Relax your chest and all the muscles between the ribs. Come now to the shoulders, where we carry so much tension in our bodies. Let the shoulders release completely. Spend an extra moment here, and really soften. Feel the weight of the shoulders sink into the earth. Allow this sensation of softness to flow down the arms. Relax the upper arms, the elbow, and the forearms. Feel the space in the wrist joints. Feel the space around each finger and the energy in the palm of each hand.
Bring your awareness to your neck and throat, and release all tension there. Relax your jaw, lips, and tongue; relax your cheeks and eyes and all the muscles around the eyes and deep in the eye sockets; relax your forehead and your scalp. Allow your head to rest heavily on the floor.Now relax your inner organs. Bring your awareness to the reproductive organs, and either feel or imagine them relaxing. Relax your prostate (if you have one), intestines, and kidneys. Imagine your liver, stomach, and spleen being filled with healing energies. Soften your diaphragm and lungs. Relax your heart. Let your heart become open … vast … undefended, and … smiling.
Step 2. Close your eyes
Try and keep you eyes gently relaxed and closed. Some feel that keeping their eyes open allows you to be more present. Just lower your eyes and let your gaze be soft. It’s important to do what is comfortable for you. Some people find closing their eyes much more effective. It’s good to experiment and see what feels best for you.
Step 3. Simply focus on the flow of your breath occurring at the tip of their nose
Release the breath totally: let it be whatever it wants to be. Notice the breath – become aware of the short pauses between each breath. Relax your mind … notice that the moment between each breath is the moment between thoughts. Enjoy those moments of complete silence and peace; feel this sense of peace growing deeper. Let this feeling of peace fill you; let it fill the space around you; let peace fill the room and beyond, touching everyone and everything.
Step 4. Acknowledge your thoughts that pop in
If a random thought arise, notice and acknowledge the thought and simply let ‘it’ go by bringing the attention back to the sensations of the breath.
When you notice thoughts, gently let them go by returning yous focus to the breath. Don’t try to stop thoughts; this will just make you feel agitated.
Imagine that they are unwelcome visitors at your door: acknowledge their presence and politely ask them to leave. Then shine the soft light of your attention on your breath.
Step 5. Emotions
It’s difficult to settle into meditation if you are struggling with strong emotions. Emotions are energy in Motion. E + Motion. Notice where your body is tight or tense. If you focus on your body you can let go of some emotions that tend to breed stories in the mind.
When letting your mind rest, if a memory that causes the emotions such as anger, shame and fear come up, you can connect with and let it go.
Here you are accessing the part of you that create stories and repeats it over and over in the mind.
Anger and shame make us keep looking at past events of the past. Fear looks at the future with stories that start with, “What if…”
The way to deal with strong emotions in meditation is to focus on the body feelings that accompany the emotion.
For example, this could be the tight band of fear around the chest or the hot roiling of anger in the belly.
Let go of the stories by refocusing on your body.
In this way you are honoring your emotions but not becoming entangled in stories. Notice the cooler air coming in each breath and warmed air leaving! Breathe into that region of the body!
Step 6. Welcome the Silence and Enjoy
A. Silence is healing. Gaps in your thoughts occur so beautifully when you are improving your natural ability to concentrate.
I know that there are is a lot of ‘meditation music’ around, but nothing beats simple silence.
Otherwise the music or sounds on the tape just drown out the chatter in your mind. When we sit in silence we actually get to experience what our mind is doing. There is steadiness and calmness that comes from sitting in silence. In time outer and inner silence meet and you come to rest in the moment.
B. Most of all, it’s important to enjoy meditation. You might like to try sitting with a hint of a smile. Be kind to yourself. Open your eyes and allow the light around you in to refresh you!
Start sitting just a little each day.
For example, set a timer for 3 minutes then extend it to 5 minutes in a couple days. Every other day add a few minutes to the time you meditate until you reach 20 minutes a day!
I heard His Holiness the Dali Lama say, “I meditates twice as long on my busy days!”
He said this at a press conference when explaining how he gets so much done!
Research using neuro-imaging technology has shown that meditation techniques can promote significant changes in brain areas associated with concentration.
In the past, it was always assumed that extensive training was required to achieve this effect. It is not true! It is a myth that to boost your cognitive abilities, you need monk-like discipline, time commitment, and high personal cost. For those that are ready to transform their lives this information is so timely!!
Psychologists studying the effects of a meditation technique known as “mindfulness ” found that meditation-trained participants showed a significant improvement in their critical cognitive skills (and performed significantly higher in cognitive tests than a control group) after only four days of training for only 20 minutes each day. They got smarter and more efficient!!
“In the behavioral test results, what we are seeing is something that is somewhat comparable to results that have been documented after far more extensive training,” said Fadel Zeidan, a post-doctoral researcher at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, and a former doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where the research was conducted.
“Simply stated, the profound improvements that we found after just 4 days of meditation training– are really surprising,” Zeidan noted. “It goes to show that the mind is, in fact, easily changeable and highly influenced, especially by meditation.”
The meditation training involved in the study was an abbreviated “mindfulness” training regime modeled on basic “Shamatha skills” from a Buddhist meditation tradition, conducted by a trained facilitator.
“The simple process of focusing on the breath in a relaxed manner, in a way that teaches you to regulate your emotions by raising one’s awareness of mental processes as they’re happening is like working out a bicep, but you are doing it to your brain. Mindfulness meditation teaches you to release sensory events that would easily distract, whether it is your own thoughts or an external noise, in an emotion-regulating fashion. This can lead to better, more efficient performance on the intended task.”
“This kind of training seems to prepare the mind for activity, but it’s not necessarily permanent,” Zeidan cautions. “This doesn’t mean that you meditate for four days and you’re done – you need to keep practicing.”
One of the best known and most respected Zen masters, Thich Nhat Hanh, has been my teacher of Mindfulness!
I teach a process that allows you to get more done based on Mindfulness Teachings.
You can increase your productivity, happiness and unlock your fullest potential with meditation.
Contact me for a session to access tools within you to change your life! Drsarah@drsarahlarsen.com
*You can learn more and to read the study quoted in the article: It appears in the April 2 issue of Consciousness and Cognition. Authors are: Fadel Zeidan’s, Susan K. Johnson, Zhanna David and Paula Goolkasian from the Department of Psychology at UNC Charlotte, and Bruce J. Diamond from William Patterson University. The research was also part of Zeidan’s doctoral dissertation. The research was presented at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society’s annual meeting in Montreal.
“Findings like these suggest that meditation’s benefits may not require extensive training to be realized, and that meditation’s first benefits may be associated with increasing the ability to sustain attention,” Zeidan said.
“Further study is warranted,” he stressed, noting that brain imaging studies would be helpful in confirming the brain changes that the behavioral tests seem to indicate, “but this seems to be strong evidence for the idea that we may be able to modify our own minds to improve our cognitive processing – most importantly in the ability to sustain attention and vigilance – within a week’s time.”