Breathe to Focus Your Attention

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Hey friends!

This is a breath meditation practice, the first step for you to start focusing your attention. It will allow you to pause and switch from the usual mode of doing to a mode of non-doing. Of simply being. And it leave you in flow state , ready to show up as your best self.

Take good care of you!

Manuela

 

PS. – If you want to know more about how mindfulness meditation can help you to focus your attention and enhance concentration read here this article.

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How Mindfulness Helps You to Focus Your Attention (and enhance concentration)

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By practicing mindfulness you can improve mental focus and increase concentration.

This has been proved by many scientific studies that explain it by the neuroplasticity principle: through mindfulness meditation we create new neuronal pathways in the brain.

“Where your attention goes energy flows” James Redfield

“What you practice goes stronger” Shauna Shapiro

I’m sure you already heard these two powerful quotes.

Here how mindfulness meditation trains your brain to be better at concentrating: each time you notice that your mind wanders off from whatever you’re focusing on, you intentionally bring your attention back to the object of your attention.

Now, attention doesn’t mean that you need to put an enormous amount of effort into achieving focus.

The idea is to make a balanced effort.

The neuroscience of mindfulness suggests lasting change requires a gradual training through time.

Experiment by trying quite hard, not trying hard at all and then find the sweet spot in the middle. Sometimes, you can almost let go of effort altogether and your mind stays focused quite happily, although this may never happen to you.

As always with mindfulness, no rules exist, so experiment and see what works for you.

Here is a  five-minute meditation for improving your focus:

  1. Sit, every day, for five minutes.
  2. Practice just looking ahead and observing what is in front of you. If you are inside and alone observe the objects, the colours, the shape. If you are outside observe the people walking.
  3. Do this daily for a couple of weeks and see what effect it has on the rest of your life.

Here are some other tips for improving your focus:

  1. When at work, help yourself to be focused by turning off your email and, if possible, your phone, even for short periods of time. The lack of distraction boosts your productivity, focus and sense of satisfaction immensely.
  2. The next time you find yourself multi-tasking, stop. Take a deep breath. Multi-tasking reduces productivity and increases stress — avoid it when you can.
  3. Every day, look out for one thing that you find beautiful, such as your child or partner, a flower, a piece of architecture or the sky, and see whether you can watch and be with that beauty for a few minutes, without distraction. Your mind wanders off as usual of course, but just gently and kindly bring your attention back.

If you’re new to meditation, you may think that your attention seems to be getting worse as you practice. This isn’t true — you’re just discovering how easily your mind can get distracted! Persevere even if you feel you aren’t focusing well at all.

Trust in the process 😉

Take good care of you!

Manuela

 

PS – Listen here to a short guided meditation to focus your attention.

 

Simply Stopping

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Hi friends!

I’m inviting you to notice what it’s like to stop. To simply be still and present in this moment.

Tell me: What impact did stopping and doing nothing for this short period of time have on your body and mind?

Try this 📌When you start a new activity today, maybe when you arrive to work, maybe a meal, practice stopping and practicing one minute of silence to give yourself time to stop and become more present to this next activity.

Take good care of you!

Manuela

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How to Sit (comfortably) for Meditation

The first thing I ask in my guided meditation practices is for you to sit in a comfortable sitting posture.

Comfortable can mean all kinds of positions and in case you are wondering if you are doing it right you can learn about it here.

“A good meditation posture is very still, balance and comfortable”

The 3 main qualities on a meditation posture are:

  • Alignment of the back, neck, and head in a comfortable upright natural way, with your chin slightly lowered.
  • Relaxation of muscles, particularly the neck, shoulders, and face. The posture should be comfortable. The arms should hang effortlessly, with the hands resting in the lap or lightly on the knees. The legs should be comfortable and relaxed and if your knees do not touch the ground you can support them with extra cushions to ease any pain in the hips.
  • Stillness of body means stability, not easily moved, with a sense of balance. To find your centre of balance you can gently rock side to side and forward and backward until you find a sense of the middle of your posture. For the duration of the meditation it is important to sit still.

In Mindfulness meditation formal practice, the postures have some basic elements that are employed around the world in order to calm the mind and align the body (that’s why when you see a picture of someone meditating they all are in the same position).

These elements are sitting, elongate the spine, resting your hands, relaxing the shoulders, tucking in the chin, opening the jaw and resting your gaze.

I’ll explain each one briefly.

 

  1. Sitting: You can sit on a chair or on a firm pillow on the ground. If you sit on a chair be sure to sit away from the back of the chair and place your feet firmly on the floor, aligned with your hips and knees.

If you sit on the ground cross-legged it helps if you have a good firm cushion. Nowadays you can find meditation cushions everywhere at reasonable prices.

Depending on your flexibility and yoga practice you can sit Quarter Lotus (cross-legged with your legs loosely crossed and your feet resting bellow the opposite thigh or knee), the Full Lotus ( legs crossed with both feet resting on top of your opposite thighs), or if you cannot sit with your legs crossed, that is fine, you can sit with both feet laying on the Floor in a relaxed position (aka sukhasana or easy pose).

Instead of sitting with your legs crossed you can also kneel and place a cushion or a wood bench between your legs.

Note: You can also meditate lying down, try to bend your knees with your feet on the ground to maintain some sense of wakefulness.

 

  1. Elongate the spine: Sitting gives you a firm foundation and it is important to lift yourself up through your spine. You want to feel uplifted when you meditate. Your back should be straight and aligned with neck and head.
  2. Resting your hands: The simplest thing to do with your hands is to rest them on your lap. You can rest them with the palms down on your thighs. Or you can place your right hand on top of your left with the thumbs lightly touching, resting them on your lap.
  3. Relaxing the shoulders: Your shoulders should be relaxed and away from your neck. You can push them slightly back. This establishes a strong back while opening the front body.
  4. Tucking in the chin: Slightly tuck in your chin, this allows your head not to be upwards and gives you rest.
  5. Opening the jaw: To open the jaw gives a sense of relaxation to the face muscles.
  6. Resting the gaze: You can meditate either with your eyes closed or open. With open eyes you should relax your eyes two or three feet ahead on the ground.

 

If you take some time before practice to settle into a comfortable posture, following these simple elements you will find it much easier to rest your mind and concentrate and you will start your practice relaxed.

Personally, to achieve my posture, I use the mountain visualization. After I develop alignment and relaxation in my posture, I imagine I am like a mountain to help me be deeply rooted into the earth, grounded and stable. The key here is to remain unmoved and extremely still with the magnificence of a mountain.

As you can see there are many postures (or positions) you could try, most of them easy to achieve. You shouldn’t force your body to execute any posture. Fundamentally, although it does take time to get used to sitting still, mind and body should be at ease, dignified and alert.

It’s important to say that these are postures used on formal practice of meditation. But you don’t have to be dependent on the right position or the right pillow or space to meditate. You can meditate on your desk at work between appointments, on the train, on the bench in the park, home when the kids are busy with homework.

Choose and practice what works for you. There is no right or wrong when it comes to meditation practice. Meditation is not about the right posture, it is a state of mind, the state of awareness.

No matter what, you will struggle with focusing and staying present. We all do. Know that and be kind to yourself!

Take good care of you.

Manuela