By Ian Ramsey
Mindfulness is a tool to help you feel better, perform better and live better. It will make you happier, stronger and fitter. Here are some methods and tips to help you control your own state and have more agency in your life.
- Box Breathing: Taking a moment to breathe in an intentional way can down regulate the nervous system and help with calm and focus. One breath practice that is easy is box breathing, where you breathe in for a beat, hold for a beat, breathe out for a beat, pause for a beat, and repeat. As you get more comfortable with the practice, you can lengthen the breaths and the holds. You can do this while driving, while sitting in a meeting or waiting in line at a store. The App “Breathe to Perform” is a great way to support this practice.
- Mindfulness practice: Here’s a basic, useful mindfulness practice that I’ve been doing for years: Try closing your eyes and silently counting your breaths up to ten. On the first in-breath, count "one" and on the out-breath count "two" and then on the next in-breath, "three," and so on until you get to ten and then start over. If you lose count or focus (and you probably will), don't worry about it and just gently and persistently keep returning to the counting. The point is not to be perfect, but to make the effort.
- When you’re practicing mindfulness or box breathing, take deep belly breaths that use your full diaphragm. Sit with a good comfortable posture that helps you to fully breathe.
- Don't worry if you're doing it right. Don't let perfect be the enemy of good: doing anything is better than nothing. Don't worry if your legs are crossed, or if you're sitting in a chair. Don't worry if your mind if wandering too much or if you need to scratch your ear. By making the effort, you've already succeeded.
- Try to start and end the day with just a few minutes of mindfulness. Starting the day with this helps set patterns of focus for the day, and doing it before bed allows the nervous system to relax and lets the unconscious mind start to integrate with the conscious mind. All of these things help with sleep.
Breathe to Perform (Breathwork)
Insight Timer (Mindfulness)
Physiology First-Anti-Anxiety Nonprofit that Ian is involved in. Physiology First provides cutting edge anxiety mitigation tools to students around the world. www.Physiologyfirst.org
Ian’s Website: ianramsey.net
Ian’s Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Reach out if you have questions)
An article by Physiology First founder David Bidler about using breathwork to enhance running performance: https://trailrunnermag.com/training/breathe-to-perform.html
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind-Shunryu Suzuki
Power Speed Endurance-Brian Mackenzie
The Oxygen Advantage-Patrick McKeown