My nine year old son and I recently played a game called MindBall at an indoor amusement park. In this game, two opponents sit across a table from one another hooked up to an EEG to measure their brain wave activity.
The goal of the game is to move a ping pong ball from your side of the table to your opponent’s. The thing is, the calmest person (with the lowest brainwave activity) gets the ball to move away from him and TO the opponent’s side of the table.
To clarify: Nobody gets to touch the ball, you move it with your calm and focused mind!
The life lesson from this game is definitely one to write home about! (That’s why I’m writing…. “home”)
A calm and focused mind is the one that gets the most done with the least amount of effort!
Being a psychologist and neuroscience geek, I knew my son had the advantage over me for two reasons.
1). Kids tend to be neurologically calmer than adults because they don’t have the typical adult problems to solve. (How will I pay my bills?) And 2) He is a boy. And we know guys are really good at having a one track, I’m mean a very focused mind!
To my (and my son’s surprise) I won this little game. And my “victory” was a true testament to my training and practice as a yogi.
To win, I used 3 simple techniques that I use all the time to be productive as a mom without burning myself out.
Technique # 1 –Calm the Body
Productivity all starts with a calm body. It’s difficult to calm your mind and focus when your body is amped up. So the first thing I did in this game was take some deep breaths to signal my body to relax.
In Your Everyday Life: You can do the same thing before starting your day or a particular task. For example take 10-20 minutes at the beginning of your day to meditate on your breath. You can also do this 2 minute breathing practice before starting a task.
Technique #2 – Talk Yourself Up
Words are powerful things and you probably already know this. So during this little game I told myself what I wanted it to be. I repeated silently “I am focused. I am still”, and my body obeyed my command. Remember it’s your brain that commands your body.
In Your Everyday Life: You can do the same with any task to change your experience of it. For instance if you have to do the dishes and you hate it, tell yourself you are at ease and that you move through this task with grace.
Technique #3 – Visualize It
Neuroscience has shown us that our body has a physical response to the things we imagine. For example, athletes who envision themselves running a race, have the same changes in their physical bodies (releasing hormones, muscle flexion, brain wave activity) as they would if they were actually running that race! This Mindball game was just another scientific measure of that fact. During the game I envisioned the ball going over to my son’s side of the table. And it did.
In Your Everyday Life: Either in the morning or right before a particular task, visualize the thing(s) you want to accomplish. Be really specific and see only the end result.
The take away to this cool (albeit slightly geeked out) game is that the power to do all that we want to do (i.e be productive) is a mental power. The mama that wins the productivity game is the calmest and most focused!
Looking for a way to feel more calm and focused?
Join me for Free Online Yoga Every Wednesday and learn how to calm your body and focus your mind!