Time. Responsibilities. Busyness. These are a just a few of the reasons that prevent men from slowing down enough to really live a mindful life.
Mindfulness: being in the present moment, cultivating acceptance and non-judgment. Learning to be more mindful is practiced primarily through meditation. A daily practice of being still and quieting your mind holds great benefits for health and happiness but it takes focus and discipline. As you practice mindfulness, you produce “mindful mojo” which is a combination of calm and empowering energy.
Culturally, men have a resistance to being present, in the now. There is unrest in the body which can be attributed in part to testosterone. While this vital hormone regulates sexual development, muscle mass, and red blood cell production, testosterone can also breed impatience.
From an evolutionary standpoint, males tend to be continually planning, preparing, and protecting. While these are positive behaviors, the point of focus is inclined to be in the future. But mindfulness reminds you that the point of power is always found in the present moment!
As a coach who has worked with individuals, executives and couples, I have often heard the phrase “he doesn’t listen.” Not listening is form of non-presence and a frequent block to intimacy in relationships. But the good news is that not listening is just a poor communication habit that can be overcome with determination and practice.
In terms of health, the masculine energy of constantly doing, striving and achieving frequently has negative implications on health. Those implications may mean high blood pressure, insomnia, indigestion/heartburn and other serious, disruptive issues. Living a mindful life can limit or even alleviate such symptoms.
Mindful mojo arises from a steady meditation practice and intentionally being present in everyday activities (driving, walking, etc.). You have a greater sense of calm, clarity and focused energy. Your performance improves and your productivity increases.
Here are three strategies for men develop mindful mojo:
If you’re a man, you must be willing to stop. Although it may feel counter-intuitive, taking time daily to stop is a primary strategy for ultimately being more successful. Stopping allows you to connect with your wise, rational self as opposed to the part of you that may be impulsive or even stubborn. When you stop you gather your wits and give yourself a good chance to regroup. Take time to lean back. Meditation exemplifies this strategy. I coach executives and other men on the how to’s of meditation and how to weave this powerful ancient practice into everyday modern life. But essentially meditation means being still and quiet for a brief time, focusing on your breathing, and working with thoughts, emotions and physical symptoms that arise. Imagine how this strategy could transform your health and relationship dynamics!
You are not a machine. Men tend to keep their engines revved-up, so to speak. When you get focused or stressed, you may have the tendency to hold your breath or breathe shallowly into the chest. Either tendency triggers the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight). While that trunk of the autonomic nervous system is valuable, you don’t want to live there because chronic stress is damaging to your health. Instead, take a few moments to breathe in through your nose, into your belly filling it up like a balloon. On the exhale release it very slowly and deflate your stomach toward your spine. Just several slow, attentive breaths stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, calming the body and clearing the mind. When the body is relaxed and the mind is more clear, you tend to make better decisions and feel better overall.
Even the best of intentions can be waylaid by unexpected demands and everyday life. Stress occurs when the demands of life outweigh your resources. Rather than being at the mercy of ever-changing forces, set aside time daily for true self-care: meditation, exercise, and connection with family and friends. These approaches to stress reduction don’t have to consume exorbitant amounts of time. Schedule what you can and then follow-through. If you plan self-care, it is much more likely to happen. Remember the advice of Winston Churchill: “Fail to plan, plan to fail.”
Contact me email@example.com to access my coaching, training and consulting services. Visit my website for my full range of services including keynote speaking, corporate training and various retreats. Check out my TEDx Talk Defusing Stress with Mindful Mojo.