My students often look at me incredulously when I share mindfulness tools and practices for the first time. The look on their face is as if they are saying to themselves, “Right, if it were that simple, why isn’t everybody doing this stuff?!”
In all honesty, the trite reminders to “just breathe” as an antidote to help the hard things happening in your life somehow magically shift invites the dreaded eye roll and snickers in the back of the room.
“This is so stupid!” are commonplace remarks I hear from students of all ages.
And, the truth is, on the surface, it really does seem ridiculously silly and stupid. However, when you put these tools into consistent practice, they actually work and the magic you were hoping for in that first not-so-sure-about-this-mindful-breath begins to make its positive mark.
Things really do begin to shift – in your mind, body, and heart.
They shift for you. Our kids. And, the world.
Now that we’ve established that some of the hacks can initially feel silly, stupid, and ackward on the surface, let’s dive in a little deeper so we can actually start making the internal shift we need to feel more calm, focused, and energized to accomplish the things we set out to do.
Anything I suggest here is workable for any age. Internalize and make it your own. Then share with your kids at home and at school. You know the best way to connect with them, but before you do, they actually have to believe what you’re sharing makes a difference.
They will know because they’ll see and feel the way you share it.
Mind Hack No. 1 – Talk To Yourself Like You’re a Winner
The good thing is that we’re already really good at this one. We just need a few little tweaks to make sure that we’re saying the right things. The biggest obstacle to getting this one right is becoming aware of the harsh mind babble we spit out on repeat throughout the day, especially during moments of challenge. We become aware of this harsh mind babble when we train our mind to pay attention to it and then work to actively transform the narrative to one that wins despite the struggle or challenge.
Here’s the script that happens in my head: “You will fail at this. You’ve never done this before. Don’t even try. Other people are already doing this. Oh wait! I hear you negative mind, not being kind! Not today, mind. I’m winning because I said so. This is hard AND I will make it happen!”
Remember, you’re a winner and you CAN do it. Now go and create that script in your head on repeat.
Mind Hack No. 2 – Move, Move, and Move
Move your body. It helps your mind feel stronger and helps clear out stress. Discover the right mix of movement that works for you. While cardio is important, it’s equally important to add in strength and conditioning exercises into your movement regimen. One reason I love yoga so much (I have a lot of them), is that I can get a lot of bang for my buck while practicing it. I get the strength and conditioning for my body, sometimes I also get the cardio benefits (if you ever experienced power yoga you know what I mean), and I get the mind/body benefits while moving intentionally with my breath.
As far as kids, they love almost all movement-based practices. Introducing yoga to your PE classes, camps, and brain breaks is a fun way to help kids connect to their body and mind, and to help them experience the amazing benefits of feeling more calm and grounded, more focus, and increased empathy and compassion.
Mind Hack No. 3 – Breathe to Relieve
We breathe every day without having to think about it. Thank goodness for the autonomic nervous system. But, when we pay special attention to our breath, so much shifts for us. We can regulate our inner system to experience more calm and focus, and increase our own curiosity for life-long learning, growth, and fulfillment. Our breath is the pathway to understand who we are at our core. It’s the key to building a winning mindset. It’s the access point in which we increase our awareness about the inner workings of the mind and heart, and can fuel our greatest awakening and potential.
Breathe to relieve the hard stuff, so you can focus on the good stuff.
Mind Hack No. 4 – Rest is the Best
Good sleep is the secret magic potion for all the things we really want from mental and emotional health – calm, focused energy, and great relationships (personally and professionally).
In today’s world where you get buzzed with hundreds of notifications, thousands of reminder dings, and a plethora of pop up windows with way more information to consume than our already overloaded and overstimulated mind can handle, rest is more than just good, quality sleep.
Rest is about unplugging from the technology, the busy norm, and the constant running and doing. It’s choosing to simply sit, rest, and be.
This can look like sitting and meditating. Coloring a mindful coloring sheet. Reading an enjoyable book. Sitting or walking outside and enjoying the healing power of nature. We’re our best when we rest.
Mind Hack No. 5 – Routine is Your Mental Health Backbone
When you are moving and grooving in your life and doing all the things in a great way it’s likely because you have established some routine that supports all the energy output. Routines are great, but we don’t often think about the power of having a mind routine to really excel and reach our greatest potential.
Mix the four mind hacks above to create a strong mind routine so you can be your best self during the good times, bad times, and middle of the road times. Get curious. Explore. There are so many great tools we can use now from meditation apps, to in-studio yoga classes, audio books and podcasts, to family yoga nights.
Keep mixing it up to keep it interesting and novel. 15-30 minutes a day will help you and yours go miles away from stress and towards calm, focused energetic success on your own terms.
What seems silly, stupid, and ackward at first, ultimately, with consistent practice, becomes the magic sauce you’ve been after for years. Breathe deep, repeat. Don’t believe me. Try it for yourself and you will believe.