The Challenges of Staying Mindful

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Doctor Neha: How many people do you know in your life who would be willing to ask their question and not only learn themselves, but allow other people to learn on the journey with them? I hope [Tah] inspires you with her bravery and courage because she inspires me. Welcome Tah.

Tah: Thank you. I’m happy to be here.

Doctor Neha: It’s so good to have you. Tell me what communication question have you been pondering?

Tah: Well, I’m a yoga teacher, so I foster stillness through the yoga process and meditation. What are some tools that would help encourage my students to take time to do their practice, knowing that it is essential for their well being? How do I instill that or connect the dots for them so that they really get excited about it?

Doctor Neha: Tell me what’s important about it to you? What’s important about mindfulness, about slowing down, about stillness?

Tah:The Asana practice of breath work—once you find that piece by doing some physical Asana, you become addicted to it because it makes you feel so good. You think, what is happening in my body? Why am I feeling so peaceful? Then what comes is the energy starts soothing and relaxing them, or us, that’s why I practice.

Doctor Neha: For you?

Tah: Yes, I’m type A. If there’s not some tool that I can have personally, you would just see me spinning off into la-la land.

Doctor Neha: So it’s really helped you ground yourself.

Tah: Yes.

Doctor Neha: First of all, you acknowledge you are a type A doer, and there’s this way that you get this little hit of accomplishment and satisfaction when you cross something off your list. What you’re advocating for is a sense of what happens internally if you’ll actually do what seems counter intuitive, which is to slow down.

Tah: Right, exactly.

Doctor Neha: That’s the place of intuition. It’s the place of inner wisdom. It’s advocating that maybe what’s out there is not half as exciting as what’s in here [inside me]. I have to tell you about my watch. [Instead of a clock face, all it says is “Now.” Any time I look down, I remember that it is now. Now is the most important moment, right? So you speak from a place of honesty and authenticity about the times when you don’t show up and do your practice now.

Tah: Yes, this [yoga practice] will work if we do it quietly and softly and smoothly—then everything flows.

Doctor Neha: Your question was how do I instill this in my students?

Tah: How do I get them excited about it so that they’ll intuitively or consciously make time for it for themselves?

Doctor Neha: Tell me how you went from being type A to making this [yoga] world so important to you. What got you excited?

Tah: It takes time so you can’t expect it to happen overnight. It takes time.

Doctor Neha: Okay, now say the same thing you just said but shift to saying “I.”

Tah: I know that it takes time.

Doctor Neha: And I can’t get really excited about making it happen immediately.

Tah: Right, and I cannot get excited about making it happen immediately. I need to accept the fact that it’s progress, step by step.

Doctor Neha: Do you notice what you were doing? It’s like you’re saying, “Can we all get to mindfulness quickly, please?”

Tah: Exactly. Over the years of teaching, that has been the most challenging thing to see the potential and want this growth to happen soon, but it never happens that way. It takes time in the body for the client to experience it, so it’s a gradual process, and I need to trust in that. There you go.

Doctor Neha: It’s that moment of self-trust. Do you feel that shift right now?

Tah: Yes, absolutely. For me, personally, yes.

Doctor Neha: I used to say it took me 33 years to think mindfulness was important, then I started learning guided imagery and breathing and chanting. I started exploring a variety of options until I found the ones that worked for me. I like chanting when I can’t sleep at night. I have this particular Krishna Das chanting that will get me in a rhythm and soothe me. Meditation, yoga, mindfulness practices allow me to enjoy the moment more.

What I’ve found as I’ve worked in corporations and large companies is that the way to inspire and engage people is start them with mindfulness to help them get insight.Then I take them into considering how that insight can create action in their life? For example, if I’m running fast and going through my day, do I snap at the people I love? I relate mindfulness to real experiences—now they have lots more work to do because they have to then go clean up that time that they snapped at someone.

So what I’ve done is link mindfulness, meditation and those moments in the present moment to how it’s going to change the outcomes.

Tah: How does that look?

Doctor Neha: I wrote a whole book on it: Talk Rx.Basically, I say start with paying attention to your body and picking up information from your outside world, but being really in tune with your inside world. When those two things aren’t matching, that’s your first clue, because if I say yes to you, but inside my stomach starts turning and my heart starts racing, that means mixed messages.

That’s why mindfulness is amazing—and it’s a practice. Then we have to link it to our thoughts, our emotions, what we want, and then how we end up taking action in the world. If we can do that, mindfulness takes insight and translates it into action. For type A’s, I’ve found that the way to get from their head to their heart is by entering intellectually and then slowly dropping into their emotions.

Tah: Because how we think is how we feel, too, so we start with that.

Doctvor Neha: We always start with the body, because you and I know that, but then the head.

Tah: Emotionally tied to thinking, right?

Doctor Neha: Yes, all of a sudden you’re going to take this data and create a thought. Depending on which thought you decide to believe drops you into an emotion.For example, if I observe that you roll your eyes and look away, and I decide that means you don’t like me, I’m going to feel rejected, disappointed, and upset. Let’s say you roll your eyes and look over there, and I think, Oh, she must have something in her eye or there must be someone over there that she’s interested. Who is that? If I make up that thought, I actually will end up curious.

Tah: It changes the whole frequency and energy.

Doctor Neha: Of everything and how I feel. They’re intricately connected. The way that I’ve been able to help doctors, nurses, companies, this whole type A world, is by linking mindfulness to communication and our ability to change outcomes, especially the way that we communicate with ourselves and with others. Is that helpful?

Tah: Oh, extremely helpful. Thank you so much. I enjoyed this.I loved the ah-ha moment of realizing that I am not mindful of my own question when I want everybody to be mindful.It’s okay just the way it is—and I need to remember that all aspects and not just isolate it to the yoga mat.

Doctor Neha: Yes, because type A’s want to know if I’m going to spend this time, how’s it going to change and make my world better? Even though you love that peaceful moment, [type A’s] don’t see that as the end goal. They say, “How is this going to save me time, make me more effective and efficient?” You connect to them here (in their head), and then slowly drop them here (into their heart).

Tah: Exactly.

Doctor Neha: Thank you. For all of you listening in, if you know that you start to lose your mindfulness, whether it’s being mindful of how you’re eating, how well you’re sleeping at night, I would argue that if we don’t pay attention to the emotional experiences in our life, if the stress overwhelms us, it will actually surface and show up in your physical body. Then you end up in my office asking for help with your anxiety or your headache or blood pressure or something else. So pay attention.

What I love about what Tah does in the world is she’s one of those gifted leaders who teaches and reminds us that the time is now.So take a moment to take a few deep breaths. One of the practices that one of my friends [Soren Gordhamer] mentioned on Facebook the other day was, “I’ve noticed I’ve been going for my phone lately a lot. I’ve almost had that reflexive checking of the phone, even though nothing has happened since I checked it 6 seconds ago,” and so what he said was just take 4 deep breaths each time you realize you’re reaching for your phone, and do it mindfully. I’m not saying don’t [go for your phone]; I’m just saying make sure you do it mindfully.

So what’s one thing you could do mindfully? Pay attention to what you’re eating and slow it down. If it’s checking your phone and just doing it a little more mindfully. That’s my challenge for you until next week. What will you choose?

Awareness Prescription

  1. Pay attention to what activities you do automatically—without much thought.
  2. Choose one of those activities to do mindfully this week.
  3. Before you engage in the activity, take three deep breaths, tune into all of your senses and become aware of intentionally taking action (e.g., eating a piece of chocolate, checking your phone, taking a walk, greeting your loved ones).

Tuning into mindfulness,

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