The Power of Focus
As you begin your Holiday Season, think about how you want to Feel in the New Year. The days are getting longer, and the New Year represents a powerful time to Reset. Body, Mind, Psyche.
How to Strengthen Focus
Focus is cultivated. By repeatedly focusing on something, you refine your ability to see, hear, feel, sense, that focus. As you continue to focus, a mastery develops. When we feel mastery, we feel a sense of success.
What do you want to create in 2019?
What lifestyle will support the mastery you wish to feel?
By lifestyle, I means the habits of your day to day life. How you sleep. How you eat. Who you are close to and spend time with, including at work. How you work. How you relax. How you study. How you enjoy. How you balance in time with others and time alone. How you further your health and wellness. How you help create a better world.
What tools will get you into living the kind of lifestyle you desire?
One tool for creating a lifestyle in which you feel Deeply Successful, is to have a daily practice. Even for one minute. Ideally for 10 to 20 minutes. Can you commit to this Challenge? For thirty days.
Why A Daily Practice Works
Why does a daily practice work?
A daily practice reminds your mind, your brain, your body about who you are becoming each day. What matters most. Your priorities. Your values. Without this focus you become more easily swayed by the wants and needs of those around you, or by the dictates of your culture. Or, swayed by the programs in your mind that cause you to behave or act or choose in ways that move you further away from your goals.
Science had continually shown us that human beings will behave according to certain beliefs that are often subconscious or unconscious, and may be non-verbal. By understanding these beliefs better, you can begin to shift them to new beliefs. When you have new beliefs at the foundation of your consciousness, then you live a life more effortlessly aligned with your values.
How do you shift these beliefs?
There are many ways. The way I am focusing on for today, for you, moving into the New Year of 2019, is daily repetition of a word, an image, a sentence that matters deeply to you. What you want to focus on. In yoga, we use a mantra, “man” meaning that which concentrates or holds focus, ie The Mind, and “tra” meaning a tool or instrument. Together, man-tra means an instrument for the mind, traditionally used to allow for freedom from unwanted thoughts, liberation from feeling trapped, release from whatever is holding you back from feeling your true free peaceful happy self.
Mantra and Meditation
Together, “mantra” also means in Sanskrit a sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a poetic hymn. A mantra is thus used as a kind of ritual, or sacred peaceful space and offering, to the mind, to free the mind. To help the mind align with your true nature of the limitless and unbound self. A mantra is also likened to a spell, an enchantment for the mind, a self hypnosis, a vibration through sound to tune the mind to a different state.
The science behind mantra is several fold. We do know that repetition of behaviours and thoughts actually creates new connections between neurons (1, 2). The new connections grow with repetition, like a tree root that bind to another tree root and gets thicker and thicker. As this new connection strengthens, old unused connections wither and can even completely disappear. In this way, repetition re-designs the mind. So mantra does this as well.
Studies have shown that ultrasound waves and music can rewire the brain (3). When practicing music together, brains oscillate together and create same structure networks, explaining why group mantra can deepen a sense of connection (4).
So, you have several approaches available to you. Before you start, choose, buy, or make a mala that has 108 beads for you to keep your mind on the task at hand. Pick one of the following for your focus:
Pick an image of something that makes you feel a way you wish to feel. For your New Year’s goal, this would be a way you wish to feel more often in the New Year. Bring your mind over and over to this image, counting a repetition of this image 108 times.
Pick a feeling state that you have enjoyed. Like floating on water, laughing long and loud with friends, reaching a mountain peak, the way you feel after a good workout, or on a crisp spring walk through the woods. Focus on this feeling 108 times.
Choose a sentence that makes you feel a belief that you would like to embody. I am strong. I am confident. I persevere. I am intelligent. I love greatly. I have deep compassion. Something like this. Repeating it in your mind silently, or out loud, 108 times.
Choose a mantra. You may vary this day to day, or for a more intensive experience, choose the same mantra every day. Sing it in your mind or out loud 108 times. Some suggestions are:
Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha
Aim Hrim Shrim Savasvatye Namaha
Om Paramahalakshmi Namaha
Om Shivaya Shivaya Shivaya
Om Shanti Shanti Shanit
The Gayatri Mantra
The Tryambakam Mantra
The Daily Practice x 30 Days
As soon as you wake up in the morning, go to a seat where you will not fall asleep, and not be disturbed. Then, ensure that you will be comfortable enough, but not too comfortable to fall back asleep. Focus your mind lightly and with kindness on the focus of your choice - an image, a sentence, a mantra. Repeat this using your right thumb and middle finger on a bead for each time you repeat one repetition, moving the fingers after you finish the repetition.
With each repetition, be curious how the repetition affects how you feel in your heart. To balance the heart’s electromagnetic field, consider a mantra or focus that creates feelings of Kindness, Compassion, Love, Gratitude, Gentleness, Safety, Peace, Thankfulness. The heart’s electromagnetic field is much larger than that of the mind, and potentially can shift the waves of mental thought.
After you have repeated 108 times, then take a moment, with eyes closed or only slightly open if eyes closed make you feel too nervous. Time yourself to ensure you sit in this Reflection Phase for at least five minutes, ideally ten to twenty minutes.
Notice. Notice what you feel. Notice the state your body, your mind, your psyche is in. Be curious. Allow this to be like looking, sensing, feeling into an unknown space. An Adventure. A Mystery that you can not know beforehand. A feeling that will change for you every day. A Felt Experience. An Altered State. An Self Enchantment. A Vibrational Reset.
If you would like to join the 30 Day Challenge on Facebook, see the link above. To join on instagram, simply take a photo of your mala after you have completed the 108 repetitions and the Reflection Phase, and post it with the hashtag #malamystery. Post any inspiring or beautiful reflections you have on this experience as you like. You can also not post, and simply gain inspiration for your personal practice through the daily inspirations. All of the content will be curated for a beautiful, sacred, respectful, and refined experience for all.
The 30 Day Challenge will last from December 24, 2018 to January 23, 2019. You may join at any time.
Wishing you the best, always,
And a Happy Holidays, and a Brilliant New Year 2019,
Dr. M. ~
Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Circuit and Synaptic Mechanisms Underlying Experience-Dependent Cortical Plasticity. Watch the video
Pascal-Leone A 2001. The brain that plays music and is changed by it. In: Ann N Y Acad Sci 2001 Jun;930:315-29.
Fomenko et al 2018. Low-intensity ultrasound neuromodulation: An overview of mechanisms and emerging human applications. In: Brain Stimulation Nov-Dec Volume 11, Issue 6, Pages 1209–1217
Sanger J et al. 2012. Intra- and interbrain synchronization and network properties when playing guitar in duets. In: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience November