What if I were to tell you that I have a practice which is guaranteed to change your life?* It will cost you nothing but a few moments of your time every day.
Carve out five minutes of your day for yourself. Just 5. If five seems like too many, then try three minutes. Just 3. It’s probably best if you do it first thing in the morning, but it can be done any time, day or night.
Sit comfortably somewhere. Anywhere. On the floor, a bench, a chair, a couch. You can even sit on your bed. But probably don’t. That might be just a little bit too comfortable.
Set a timer, on your phone or some other device. For 5 minutes, or 3. Once you start the timer, close your eyes. Or take your gaze down to the floor and let it be soft.
Try to gently focus your awareness on the air just outside of your nostrils. Don’t try to concentrate too hard. Feel the air as it enters your nose. Feel it moving through your nose on the inhale and the exhale. Softly focus on the feeling of the breath. Allow your gentle awareness to rest on the sensation of the breath.
A thought will come into your head. Notice the thought. Don’t entertain it. Don’t get caught up in it. Simply notice the thought, then address it by gently and kindly allowing it to move aside. Thinking to yourself ‘Not right now’.
Being your awareness back to the breath. Another thought will come into your mind. Notice it. Address the thought again. Softly and kindly say, ‘Not right now.’
As each new thought arises, notice. And repeat to yourself, ‘Not right now.’
At first you may find that it is just thought after thought after thought with no space in between. You may be repeating ‘Not right now’ one hundred times in 5 minutes… That is the practice.
Your mind can be like a puppy with ADHD. But like a puppy, it can be trained. ‘Not right now puppy, with your puppy energy. Right now I’m breathing.’ You can gently train the puppy mind with your breath leash.
You can gently train your mind until it is rewired. When something triggers anxiety about the future, instead of letting that anxious thought run wild you can ask yourself, ‘Is this a thought I need to entertain right now?’ No? Then say ‘Not right now.’
Not right now, unproductive thought. Not right now unhelpful thought. Not right now, anxious thought.
The more you practice, the easier it will get. The more you practice the calmer and quieter your mind will become. The longer and more often you practice the more time and space you will find between thoughts.
Try to do this every day for one week, and see what happens. Once a day is good. But more than once a day is even better. The more you practice, the more you will notice a sense of space in your mind. Space for the important thoughts. The helpful thoughts. The productive thoughts. The creative thoughts. The healthy thoughts. And space for quiet. Quiet and rest.
Maybe it will translate into other parts of you life as well. You may start asking yourself questions, and answering ‘Not right now.’
Do I have to spend this time worrying about what might possibly happen next week? Not right now. Must I respond to this annoying email now, while I am aggravated? Not right now. Should I eat this cookie? Not right now. Hmmm yeah, I will eat this cookie. But should I eat the second cookie? Not right now.
Try it for 5 minutes a day. Or 3. Or even one minute a day. If you practice consistently over a period of time, please feel free to share your experience with me. I would love to hear about it.
*guaranteed to work if you sustain a consistent daily practice over an extended period of time.