So, what’s new to share this week? Well, I delivered the final Session in a 6 week Mindfulness and Meditation Programme in an organisation. As part of this Programme, we developed techniques and practices for living in the present moment, with acceptance, so as to strengthen our inner resources, mindset and responses. One of the habits we practised was one that I adopted from Rick Hanson, a Neuropsychologist and author of Hardwiring Happiness and Buddha’s Brain. It’s called Taking in the Good and it is a really simple technique to help you re-programme your brain and neurological circuits for increased positivity and well being. Done regularly, this exercise helps to build a reservoir of positivity from the inside out and I thought I’d share this with you today because it has been an outstandingly effective practice in my own life and in the lives of those with whom I work.
Here is my summary of how to do it. Enjoy.
Half a dozen times a day stay with an ordinary positive experience that you are having or cue one up in your brain that you have experienced previously. Here are some examples of some of the seemingly ordinary yet positive experiences that we tend to let pass us by … playing with your child and seeing them smile up at you, looking at a photo of a loved one, watching a sunset, seeing a rainbow, getting a compliment or a gift, having a really nice meal, someone letting you into the driving lane, someone making you a cuppa, enjoying that cuppa. Stay with the live experience or the memory and savour that positive experience for 10 or 20 seconds. Use your senses (sight, hearing, touch/feelings, taste, smell) and really allow that positive experience to sink in. What I personally do is try to link my breathing to the experience also, so when I am savouring the experience, I just breathe more deeply and slowly (and when I can, I close my eyes too).
One of my favourite daily routine tasks that I savour in this way is putting the kids to bed (five year old and one year old). What may seem like a relatively mundane task turns to magic when I allow myself to be fully there in the reading of a story or the singing of a song or the hugs and kisses and laughter that comes. I let it all soak in and in doing that I switch off the rest of the world. It is a little piece of heaven every day. And because I allow myself to be fully present and sink in to that moment, I can easily recall the positive feelings of it any time I want to. Bringing those memories up, at any time, changes my state to one of instant positivity. This is a very useful tool and inner resource to have to allow you to consciously choose your state at any moment, in any day, and especially needed when life seems to be throwing another challenge your way.
Here’s the Neuroscience bit
Doing this for 10 -20 seconds each time is all that it takes for the positive memory to be transferred from short term memory buffers to long term storage in your brain and as such then, bit by bit, you create positive neural pathways and strengthen the your mind’s neurostructure. Hanson has a great line, which is “the neurons that fire together, wire together” so fire up the positive ones, through this exercise, to help re-programme your own neural circuitry to be programmed in a deliberate and more positive way. By practising this 5 or 6 times a day you actually build your own reservoirs of positivity making it easier to notice and enjoy more and more positive experiences in your life, more and more often.
How to Make This Happen
To make it really practical and tangible for you, let’s turn it into an action that you can carve time out to practice. It means savouring ordinary and positive experiences 5 times a day by 10 or 20 seconds – that’s about a minute and a half only … a day! I think that’s really do-able.
Try it and see what one and a half minutes a day of taking in the good does for your mind, well being and inner strength.