Mental Energy Boost

No, I am not going to talk about some exotic root or mystery drink sold through gimmick scheme… This post will outline a very simple (although not always easy) way to “flip the switch” on your mental energy booster. I will explain by beginning – as so many things dealing with the mind do – with the body…

Unable to concentrate? Continually drifting off during an important segment of a meeting? Feeling mental fatigue at the end of the day? Waking up suddenly at the end of a “meditation session”? A quick trick of the mind can give a surprising jolt of mental energy that can serve as a pick-me-up for those times. The trick is easy like cooking a meal in the crock pot is easy… only after a prolonged preparation and delicate measurements do we get to enjoy the ease of simply letting it cook on its own…

The length of preparation stage will vary from person to person, of course, but the basic skill that needs to be practiced (I did not say mastered…) is the Bodily Awareness Skill (follow the hyperlink to find the practice spelled out on my web site highest-heights.com). In my experience, developing the presence-of-mind necessary to observe bodily sensations unfold without interfering with them takes quite a while. As this skill becomes more and more familiar, however, you will notice at the end there are instructions “to fully feel ’embodied’: filling the body with your presence in it.” This is the trick; a simple decision to experience an embodied sense of presence in your own physical being. Maybe starting with the skin; then absorbing through to the muscles, bones, and organs; then radiating out, out, out… as far as you can imagine. A short excerpt from the Bodily Awareness text that you can find on my site:

Embodiment:

As you finish the detailed body scan, spend some time becoming absorbed in the view of the entire inner and outer body. The purpose of this is to fully feel “embodied”: filling the body with your presence in it. You may want to turn back to the breath for support and imagine that as you breathe in, your body is more and more filled with your attention (imagining breathing in something like light, color, or steam might help the visualization). Imagine your entire body is filled with your attentive awareness of it. You may notice either a “blipping” in-and-out or a sustained feeling of a fully embodied awareness. You may place one hand over your heart and the other over your abdomen again as you sit with that fully embodied experience. Do not try to hold onto that feeling too much (even if it brings great peace and comfort). Allow it to arise when it does, remain as long as it does, and slip away whenever it does.

The effects can be fairly startling. In my experience: sort of an electric buzz mixed with a levity and fullness all monitored by an acute awareness of the subtleties of the body and sensation.

One more little – and vital – part of this “trick”…

Several years ago, our former pastor, Dr. Kirk Neely, told my wife as she was struggling through an anxious time, “Kim, right now you’re living like this: [he showed his two white-knuckled, balled up fists]. You should try living more like this: [he released his fists and turned his open palms upward].” This was quite a powerful image to both Kim and myself – we still reference it to each other in conversation often.

This image of a receptive “open-palmed grasp” is one that nicely matches the type of release found in some of the best mental practices. Using this “open-palmed” attitude to attempt to access different states of mind seems to fit just right and can lead to very significant results.

The value and paradoxical freedom of releasing instead of grasping at that which you want the most can be essential. What this means in more practical terms is this: while making efforts to feel a certain way (e.g. energized, regenerated, etc.), do your best to let go of the desire to feel that way. This does not mean that you push the desire down, attempt to ignore it, or stop trying altogether: it simply means to notice that desire to feel differently and allow it to come into awareness and pass out of awareness all on its own.

If that is difficult, try treating the “desire for change in mental state” as you would treat a sound you hear. Close your eyes right now and notice all the sounds you hear. Don’t try to  hear any one over the others or control them in any way – simply notice and label them as they arise and pass out of “view”: “chirping of a bird… humming of the air conditioning… sound of breathing…”. Turn that type of stance (which is a stance of noticing and “letting go”) toward the desire to have a different mental state (essentially, the desire to become something else) and experiment with that for a while as you sink deeper and deeper into the embodied feeling you have worked toward through the Bodily Awareness Skill.

 

I hope you can get something out of this practice. Starting with the Attention Regulation Skill may be a great place to begin if this is a strange practice for you. Either way, the goal is to experience a presence of mind and a fullness of being-in-the-body that can rejuvenate, reenergize, and renew. Once you become familiar with the feeling, try it often! Use it not only when you feel mentally/physically fatigued – sink into a sense of embodiment when you feel upset, slighted, disappointed, melancholy, confused, unfocused, tense, or irritated…

Try it when you feel elated, happy, joyous, contented, inspired, or excited…

Try it when nothing (or everything) seems to be working for you and you need a “jump start”… Try it when you’re bored… Try it for 2 whole minutes…

However you utilize it, work toward knowledge of the sensations of your own body, and explore the deep possibilities of fully being-in-the-body; of embodiment. And when you “get there”, notice that your mind and your relationships are embodied too: sensations, thoughts, feelings, and mental images are all “mapped” onto the body in meaningful ways that make the mind (and interactions with other minds) and the body inseparable.

 

 

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