We’ve all embraced the latest leadership tools and techniques. And we’ve become as awesome as we can be. Until now…
Making The Brain’s Best Parts Bigger
As humans, we have 100 billion neurons available. Yet only about 15% are activated, according to HeartMath Institute, in large part because we focus so heavily on the outer world. Let’s explore what’s beyond the brain. Let’s dive into mindfulness and what this means, plus share one exercise that will help you get started.
Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neurotheologist and director of research at Philadelphia’s Myrna Byrd Center of Integrative Medicine recently studied the brains of spiritual leaders while they meditated or prayed. He concluded that: “The more you do a practice like meditation or prayer, your brain physically gets thicker and it functionally works better.”
An eight week study conducted by Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital determined that meditation literally rebuilds the brain’s grey matter in just eight weeks. It’s the very first study to document that meditation produces physiological changes.
Sara Lazar’s team at Harvard found that eight weeks of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) increased cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which controls memory and increases our prefrontal cortex which affects vision, planning, emotional regulation and more. There were also decreases in brain cell volume in the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress
Yale University found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN), the brain network responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts – you may have heard this referred to as “monkey mind.” The DMN is “on” or active when we’re not thinking about anything in particular, when our minds are just wandering from thought to thought. The 60,000 thoughts per day Dr. Wayne Dyer talked about, that are 90% repetitive!
The Proven Results Are Profound
When we stop our thoughts, we stop the world. Our thoughts are the voice of our ego, and our ego is primarily driven by fear.
Just how much value can a repetitive thought add? Why do we have repetitive thoughts? Great questions. I believe we have repetitive thoughts because most of us haven’t trained our minds to be still. Our minds and thoughts can be trained, you’ll see results fairly quickly, and in stillness (or silence) you will find all of the answers you seek.
Pre-Practice Prep: turn off all phones/noise makers. Ensure your family/colleagues/etc. cannot disturb you. Sit up straight, whether in a chair or cross-legged. You may want to set a timer for 5 minutes. If you simply do silence practice daily for only five minutes you will see and feel a difference in 30 days or less.
Sit quietly with a straight spine (in either chair or on floor or out in nature which is preferred). Visualize sending a thick root from the base of your spine (bottom of tailbone) as well as from the bottom of your feet into the earth. See and feel the cords like roots growing downward through the dirt and into the bed rock… now see the roots expanding outward to form a strong and wide network. Draw the energy from the earth into your belly, extending it out. Now holding your breath pull the belly in and move the energy up through your pelvic center, navel center, then into your heart center (middle of chest, a few inches below the beginning of the sternum). Hold it there until you feel a slight burn. Now exhale the energy up through your throat, third eye (between eyebrows and slightly above), and crown center (top of head). Repeat several times.
When you are proficient do the following on alternating inhale/exhale: See and feel a column of white light coming down from the heavens into the top of your head (crown center). Inhale drawing the light into the crown, exhale moving it downward through all chakras/centers: third eye, throat, heart, navel, pelvic floor, base of spine. Repeat and alternate with upward earth energy technique. This combination of energy circuits increases emotional stability and energetic weight and personal power, as well as boosts insights, mental clarity, and the feeling of a connection with the divine. You can see this process demonstrated here.
Do both daily, ideally in a.m. before starting day and also in p.m. when ending it (or ending work). Notice the tremendous and enduring stillness it creates inside of you. This stillness is where the answers to many of our questions come from.
Every highly accomplished leader I know learns to stop the world and to stop their thoughts, on command. This is one of the best ways to make key decisions, to determine if a competitive action is truly a threat, to see future products, to assess the current state of a person who is struggling, to navigate conflict and challenges.
How do you stop the world?