As I mentioned in the last post, as part of a swim study, I got some “Mental Skills Training.” Essentially I learned yoga from a sports psychologist. The first skill we learned was to center ourselves and relax. Sound familiar? As regular readers know, the point of this blog is to bring these yoga lessons into daily life, and this mental skills training gave me a new path for doing that.
One tool rises above all the others in my mind for reducing stress, increasing productivity, and providing overall better health and wellbeing. It is also our greatest teacher. It is, of course, our breath.
A focus on the breath has graced the posts on this blog numerous times. But I never could find the words to express how to use the breath for all its benefits. Thus, the last post in this series, At the Desk, focused simply on stopping and noticing the breath and focusing on breathing into the lower abdomen. That is definitely the first step, but inevitably the mind starts to wander, and we forget the breath as quickly as we can.
There are numerous ways to try to calm the mind, and yoga provides many paths. One of those paths is focusing on a mantra, which is nothing more than repeating the same word or phrase over and over again. I have my favorite mantras, but until this Mental Skills Training, I had not found one that spoke to my “professional” side as opposed to my “yogic” side (as if they can really be distinguished).
But then I did this Mental Skills Training, and my decade-long yoga practice met my desk-bound, stressed out, fear-of-water self. They met in two simple words.
Calm and Clear.
Calm on the inhale. Clear on the exhale. With each inhale, repeat the word “calm” to yourself, and with each exhale, repeat the word “clear.” They signify a calm body and a clear mind. Calm and Clear. Inhale and exhale.
What a perfect mantra for our modern society, when we run through life, rarely taking time for our bodies, and bombarding our minds with RSS feeds, facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and gchat, not to mention work (or is that just me?). Remembering, in the midst of all of this, to remind ourselves to have a calm body and a clear mind by focusing on our breath is vital. Moreover, there is nothing easier at your desk than breathing, and adding a silent mantra focuses the attention and begins to slow the thoughts and heal the body.
Can you take 1 minute per day for a “Calm and Clear” mantra? Can you take 5 minutes per day?
Calm and Clear is part of the series At the Desk, which focuses on practical tips from the yoga world (and other interesting finds) to help those of us stuck at the desk all day long. If you are interested in other tips, click the label “At the Desk,” and if you have any specific questions you would like to see discussed, send them my way.
© 2011 Rebecca Stahl, all rights reserved