I talk a lot about cultivating your “tortoise mind”, in fact, one could say it is the raison d’être of this blog. However, really, talking just about the “tortoise mind” is somewhat of a red herring, as our mind and body are intrinsically linked and one affects the other. One of the fastest ways to change your mental state is to make changes with you body.
Below are, after a few years of trial and error, what I consider the four key steps to using your body to slow down your mind. I have learned these from a variety of sources from Tai Chi, Yoga, The Alexander Technique and The Feldenkrais Method, to name a few.
One of the most effective ways to control your thoughts and feelings is to control your breath.
Slowing your breathing will slow down your mind; it will stop it from racing around. We rarely pay attention to our breathing, but our breathing is a very powerful tool to control our emotional, mental and physical state.
By focusing on and controlling your breathing, you can calm yourself, focus yourself, and energise yourself. There are lots of different breathing exercises you can learn that can make massive changes to your current state.
The old “stop and take a deep breath” has become a bit of a cliché, but it works!
Finding your centre is essential to being able to breath properly, align your posture, relax and use your biomechanics and energy efficiently. Centring is used in most martial art systems, especially Tai Chi and Aikido (it is sometimes called your Tantien or One-point).
By breathing, moving, and being aware of your centre you will find you will relax more, have more energy and be more in control of your emotions and thoughts.
Your centre is two fingers width below your belly button and about the same inside. So, to find it, take 2 fingers from one hand place them horizontally below your belly button, and with one finger of the other hand, gently press the point directly below your belly button. That is your centre. You will need to be aware of it to breathe, move and stand effectively.
Not collapse, but sinking down into your centre. Sinking is like anchoring yourself, stopping yourself being swept away. The Buddha, when he was still Siddhartha, saw a Brahmin (Indian Holy Man) in a town square and was inspired by the way this person could be “centred in the present moment, without being swept away by it”. This is the power of sinking.
Relaxing, both mentally and physically, correcting your posture so you are utilising only the energy required to do what you need to do. Be gentle, in actions and thoughts.
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