The Resilient Mind Series 02

Being stuck indoors because of the Corona virus gives us the opportunity to look inwards.

 


Photo by Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz

If 20 years ago leaders had spoken of their meditation practice, they would either have been looked at oddly or quickly labelled as eccentric. Nowadays, things are different: there is a myriad of meditation courses on offer, with detailed guides available in all forms, including a number of apps. And, what’s more, the benefits of regular mediation are well researched and documented. For example, it has been demonstrated that regular meditation can have a beneficial effect on your blood pressure, emotions, sleep and general well-being. Although what is often overlooked is that meditation can also enhance your ability to face the challenges and adversity that life throws at you with equanimity. Unless we consciously reflect on how we live and experience the world, we will remain enveloped in a subconscious state, continuously performing a series of habits and actions that are, in fact, determined by our own conditioning and socialization.

 

At the same time, our quality of life is linked to how we deal with our mental processes. No matter how extreme these emotions seem to us, joy and suffering are, in the first instance, strongly subjective mental processes. Our thinking may depend on our physical state and the world around us, but whatever we experience in life as being good or bad must appear in our consciousness in order for us to perceive it as significant. We can try to control our immediate environment and protect everything around us, but in the medium term our success will be limited, because there are a multitude of things we cannot control – such as the current global COVID-19 pandemic, technology revolutions or disruptive events that affect us and our social network. For this reason, we would like to propose some inward-focused approaches which can help you achieve greater personal clarity and understanding. 

 

Being more aware of our own internal processes: when we are lost in our thoughts, there is a whole raft of insights and perceptions that simply pass us by. Consider that every thought and every feeling that has ever come to us, in our thoughts or senses, has, after a time, disappeared again just as suddenly as it came. For example, the anger you feel when you quarrel with a family member simply fades away – unless you make a conscious effort to hang on to it, to internalize it. Because anger does not persist for a long time, unless we do something to maintain it. To experience this at a deep level, to witness how a thought appears and then fades away again if we don’t invest our emotions in it, can be incredibly liberating. And it’s exactly the same with our feelings and physical sensations when we are able to perceive how these come to be, instead of simply believing that we have an absolute right to be sad or afraid because of an external event. The point of this isn’t to ward off emotions as they arise, but to resolve them in a way that makes us more aware of the mental, emotional and somatic processes behind them, to affirm the feelings that go with them, but without being dominated by them – in other words, to take responsibility for the actions we choose, within the space that is available to us.

 

This ability is known as “mindfulness”, because meditation can help us to gain a deeper insight into the nature of these internal processes. At first glance, you might get the impression that meditation is very passive, a state of simply observing what you are experiencing. But that would be a long way off the mark, because meditation actually helps us to better distinguish what is actually real in the given moment and to experience this with greater depth and clarity, enhancing the quality of our experience from moment to moment. In the end, this helps us to deal with the world, and whatever we encounter in the rich tapestry of life, in a more relaxed and grounded manner.

 

Ask better questions: every question is based on a series of subconscious assumptions that determine the framework of the possible answers. For example, if you ask “Why did the pandemic have to happen right now, just when we were planning to expand the company?”, this focuses the question on a field of explanation which may perhaps offer some kind of answer, but will not help you to cushion your emotions by seeing the situation from another person's perspective. On the other hand, questions such as: “How can I make the best of my home office situation? How can I organize things so that my family benefits from the situation?” can stimulate curiosity and open up new perspectives and opportunities, which is much more inspiring and emotionally uplifting. It’s a true axiom: “The quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask.”

 

Studies have shown that there is one question that has the power to vastly improve your mental state: “What am I grateful for?” If you come up with at least ten answers to this question every day over a period of three weeks, this is guaranteed to open up a world of more positive emotions.      

 

Reframing our view of the future: from a psychological point of view, by reinterpreting, or ‘reframing’ a particular event, we can consciously give a different meaning to the situation by placing it in a different context. The metaphor behind this expression is based on the fact that a frame can define the shape and perspective of the picture as a whole. To “frame” something means to consciously define and set limits to our view. If we step outside our mental frame, we open ourselves up to new ideas and possible interpretations. A more helpful way to view the future and the difficulties that loom ahead, for example, would be to see ourselves as champions rising to the occasion in the face of adversity, or as fairytale heroes who first truly earn this title after accepting and overcoming the challenges set in our way. 

 

While none of these approaches offer us a quick fix, persistence will pay off. People are not computers – we can’t just upload an update to our operating systems. It takes time to reprogram or better recondition our neural networks, to finally arrive at a new, more constructive way of being.

 


The aergon team is happy to share two apps that have a very positive support effect on the personal transformation process:

  • “Waking up”, a meditation app (currently used by 60% of the team members at aergon)
  • “5 Minute Journal”, a gratitude app (currently 40% of the team members at aergon)

 

If you would like more advice about this, get in touch with the aergon team. We’ll be happy to talk to you (online)!
This article is part of the Resilient Mind Series from www.aergon.com