I am a big fan of Bruce Lee and grew up watching his movies. It was fascinating to see his power packed punches and near perfect round-house kicks. While learning martial arts, I used to imitate him, dreaming to become like him – “some day”. That day never came. But, there is a profound learning from what he did and showed to the world about the power of Relaxation and Focus.
Your ability to generate power is directly proportional to your ability to relax
The more focused and relaxed we are, the better is our experience of life. An ideal state of focused and relaxed mind much resembles still water – often referred as “mind like water” in GTD system.
What happens when you throw a pebble in a pond of still water? It responds in the exact proportion to the force and mass of the object thrown in it. Neither more, nor less.
In a “mind like water” state, you respond appropriately to the situation in front of you, neither overreact, nor under-react.
You can also learn to be focused and relaxed like a martial artist by following these three practices:
1. Take everything out of your mind
Your mind is a focusing tool, not a storage device to hold the large number of agreements you have made to yourself and others. Such commitments (often referred as “open loops”), take up unnecessary mental energy and attention – no matter how small they are. Unless these “open loops” are handled appropriately, your mind isn’t going to give up bothering you about them .
Here are the steps to handle your “open loops” – 1) Take them out of your head on a piece of paper 2) Determine what it is and the next action to be taken 3) Store them physically in an external system where you can come back to refer. Once you start doing this regularly, your mind will stop bothering you about those open loops. You will immediately experience a relaxed state of mind. More on this here.
Life is full of uncertainties and staying disorganized adds one more layer to it. To me, being organized means keeping everything going around you in perspective and being fully aware of all the moving parts in your world. An organizing system comprises of – 1. Your projects and associated to-do’s 2. Reference material and inventory of ideas 3. Time specific commitments (calendar) 4. Action items to be done by you 5. Tasks you have delegated to others. Having a clear picture of all these five aspects will allow you to experience relaxation and a sense of control in your life.
Meditating is like slowing down and cleaning up your mind so that it works optimally. In today’s demanding world, meditation is not optional, it is an important need. Here is a simple method to meditate (There are hundreds of ways to meditate and the one described below is probably the simplest method you can start with):
- Choose a quite place where there is minimum noise and zero distraction
- Sit down in a relaxed position either on a chair or on the floor
- Keep your posture straight and relaxed
- Close your eyes
- Focus on your breath
As soon as you close your eyes, your mind will start wandering aimlessly . Don’t try to force yourself to focus on breathing. Gradually your internal noise will start settling down and you will become calmer and calmer. Once you make a habit of meditating daily, you will begin to experience a greater sense of relaxation and focus. Start with 5 minutes and gradually increase to 10-15 or 30 minutes. You can learn more on mediation in this excellent book.
These three practices are simple, yet very profound in their impact. It takes only a few minutes everyday to practice them. Once you do, it will open up a new world of productivity – the one where you are relaxed and focused, every moment.
What are your ideas to develop a relaxed and focused state of mind?