By Francis Newman
The purpose of this article is to help you increase your mental clarity and free yourself from the tyranny of incessant thinking. This requires the practice of observing your thoughts (cognitive looking) to regain the joy of ‘being,’ which is naturally yours.
It’s easy to characterise all mental activity as thinking, but there are important distinctions.
Thinking moves in circular waves like a nagging memory or worry, churning thoughts over and over until action is taken to resolve it. Thinking, powered by the emotions will often result in restlessness, tension between people and even poor health.
I’m sure you can recall experiences of being manipulated by negative emotions and how they clouded your ability to see straight. But you might not be aware that excitement and anxious anticipation of something will also create an emotional thought loop blocking your ability to act clearly. Just reflect on any excited decisions you made re moneymaking schemes, timeshares and personal relationships.
Getting rid of excitement doesn’t mean you lose your sense of joy.
Joy is a natural state and to be joyful is very beautiful. Like the joy of being alive or the joy of being with someone you love.
A still mind is able to see straight and take the right course of action
The key is self-observation. This doesn’t mean blaming or accusing yourself, but to observe consciously how your emotions manipulate you. This is what meditation is about: observing your thoughts without judgement until they dissolve into stillness. A still mind is able to see straight and take the right course of action.
When you look internally at a situation, you’re putting the spotlight of your attention on it and seeing with your innate intelligence. Many people have experienced this without realising it.
The purpose of practising ‘cognitive looking’ is to help you increase your mental clarity and free yourself from the tyranny of incessant thinking. This allows you to regain the joy of ‘being,’ which is naturally yours.
‘Cognitive looking’ does not involve stimulating the mind through the imagination. It’s about seeing a situation with crystal clarity and taking the right action. Mental images might appear after a period of stillness.
But this is very different from the turmoil of self-inflicted imaginings generated by thinking and worry.
Why ‘cognitive looking’ is important for you and your team
‘Cognitive looking’ helps you see clearly without confusion and uncertainty.
It improves your sense of wellbeing and relationship with colleagues.
‘Cognitive looking’ helps you see other people’s point of view, appreciate their value and create a harmonious working environment.
‘Cognitive looking’ helps you cope better with bereavement, separation and financial pressure – enabling you to move forward.
When you are true to the innate intelligence within you, you’ll receive the energy and strength to overcome the most difficult situation.
Through the practice of stilling your mind and seeing straight, the periods of unease will become shorter and less frequent.
‘Cognitive looking’ helps you identify your hidden knowledge, which will help formulate your marketing proposition.
You’ll ‘respond’ to situations instead of ‘reacting’ to them like an automaton. Responding is taking responsibility for your actions. Reactions are emotional knee-jerk actions, which generate more emotion and flak.
Practical exercises to help you see straight
Here are some simple techniques and guidelines you can practise daily for 15-20 minutes and increase later as you progress:
1. Breathing deeply or diaphragmatic breathing will still a busy mind. Stillness is a natural state of being, but because of our busy minds and distraction technologies we have almost lost this ability. But the tranquility and clarity is always available to you as soon as you pause and take some deep breaths
2. Start by closing the eyes to avoid distractions. Then exhale as much air as possible from your lungs. This removes stale air. Then inhale gradually until the chest rises. Hold for a few seconds and exhale gradually. Repeat the cycle five to six times.
3. Using your attention, focus on the sensation between your eyes, then the forehead and around your ears. Then move slowly to the base of the head and feel the sensation or accumulated tension. Travel down the neck with your attention to the shoulders. You can dissolve tension by keeping your attention on it until it dissolves. Spend whatever time necessary.
4. Then move slowly down the right arm and elbow to the hand and fingers. Pay attention all the time to the sensation in your body. Do the same with your left arm. Then travel down the spine to your buttocks. Feel your weight on the chair and any sensation. Travel down the right thigh to the knee, lower leg and toes. Feel the base of the foot and your contact with your shoe and floor. Now move to the left leg and do the same.
4. If you feel thoughts wanting to push into your awareness, don’t fight them. Just take some more deep breaths and keep observing what’s happening.
5. Whenever you’re faced with a difficult or important decision. Resist the knee-jerk reaction. Pause for several seconds, take some deep breaths and look at what is needed. Then take your action. If you’re in shock or distressed by bad news. Then sit quietly somewhere, take some deep breaths and see what action is necessary. Sleep on it and decide the next day. It maybe that no action is required and you just need to remain calm.
6. Acting without emotion does not mean you lack love, compassion and empathy for others – quite the opposite. With a clear and alert mind you’ll be better at helping others with an offer of money, food or whatever is needed.