Mindfulness Exercises Boston
There’s no doubt about it: Americans are stressed. Between developing and running businesses, managing families, dealing with finances, and living in big cities or chaotic environments, many people struggle to combat the onslaught of negative emotions on a daily basis. As a business owner in Boston, I’ve seen a dramatic escalation in anxiety and agitation, especially amongst executives and full-time employees.
According to a Gallup poll conducted recently, Americans are among the most stressed people on the planet. Emotions like worry, anxiety, stress, and anger are very common in our country, and that has led to a big change in how businesses are managed, as well as how individuals cope.
What’s unfortunate is that those negative feelings are actually holding many Americans back from achieving their full potential. We’re consistently inhibited by hesitation, doubt, and a lack of confidence. Stress clouds our emotions, leading us to make decisions that we might not have made if we had a clear, relaxed mind.
That’s why I want to introduce the concept of mindfulness for de-stressing and meditation for business success.
How Most of Us Handle Stress in Business
In my personal experience, Boston’s fast-paced entrepreneurial culture has created an ever-present atmosphere of stress and intensity. Whether you’re a senior executive, a manager, or a regular employee, you’ve likely felt this pressure make an impact in your day-to-day life.
How many of you check emails on the weekend or after 9 PM?
Who lies in bed at night, thinking of tomorrow’s to-do list or problems that arose during the day?
Is anyone really able to check out from the hustle and bustle of their business?
People think that because technology is all around us, we are the first of societies to struggle with distancing ourselves from work stress. That’s just not true - throughout history, and in every culture, humans have dealt with negative emotions. Stress is as much a part of human culture as happiness or worry, and as a result, every society has been forced to find ways to manage it.
Fortunately, human intellect and ingenuity have allowed us to develop certain exercises that help relieve painful thoughts and feelings.
I want to talk about “mindfulness” and how it has been designed and perfected over thousands of years. Different cultures around the world have used creative mindfulness exercises, and there’s much we can learn from the age-old practice of de-stressing and refocusing.
Concentration Exercises to Help You Focus and Think Critically
One of the predominant focuses of most mindfulness exercises is clearing your scattered inset. To do this, one must dissociate from the body and enter a calm, focused center with a unified body and mind. You’ll find that mindfulness and critical thinking actually work well together when practiced properly.
There are different methods that can help one achieve this, but some of my top recommendations for meditation best practices include:
Focus on breathing: Count your exhalations and follow your breath as it enters through the nose, then exits through the nose. Create power by deepening your breaths.
Body scanning: Take a moment to truly evaluate the state of your body, from your poor posture to any physical pain you may be experiencing. Use this time to drop into a deep state of physical relaxation and really check in with your body.
Observation of an object: Pick a specific object to stare at. It could be a flickering candle, a single spot on the wall, or a piece of art. Then, focus on that one object and let your mind totally relax.
As you can see, these mindfulness practices are not overly complicated. You could practice them while seated in a formal posture in your room, while taking a walk around the neighborhood, or even while lying in bed before you go to sleep. You don’t have to attend a meditation class and chant “ohm” to enjoy mindfulness in its purest form, especially as a beginner.
Although you may have heard of things like Zen meditation, Buddhist meditation, and om meditation, understand that there are many different ways to practice. Meditation is certainly not a one-size-fits-all way of life.
I have practiced martial arts since I was ten years old, and with that practice came a deep appreciation for meditation activities and concentration-based Boston mindfulness exercises. These three specific practices can be applied alone or combined to create a dynamic, flowing experience.
Yoga and Mindfulness
As soon as you hear the word yoga, you likely envision a class full of people doing a backbend or Downward Dog. You’ve likely heard of practices such as Vinyasa Yoga, Bikram Yoga, and Power Yoga, especially in Boston. They’ve become an incredibly popular form of mental and physical exercise.
Although you could practice yoga in the comfort of your own home, my personal recommendation is to pair your initial experience with a trained professional. Beginners are often more confident when they practice under someone who can trace their knowledge of the exercise back to its origins, and you’ll learn more about how to practice successfully under a trained eye.
The Yoga Fitness-Fad
Everywhere you turn, there’s a new yoga studio popping up. Take a walk down the streets of Boston and you’ll encounter one new place after another, paired with people in fashionable yoga outfits and expensive water bottles.
One thing you need to understand about yoga is that it doesn’t require expensive clothing, tools, or fancy studios to be effective. Many studios have strayed from the true origin of yoga, which pursued mindfulness and relaxation above achieving the perfect body. Keep that in mind as you choose a studio and decide how and where you will begin practicing.
The Origins of Authentic Yoga
“Yoga is the complete settling of the activity of the mind,” said Maharishi Patanjali, one of the great pioneers of yoga and the author of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
This settling of the mind is achieved through many kinds of Sadhana (exercises or disciplines) that work together as a whole throughout yoga. The classic postures you may think of, or “asanas,” are only one aspect of mindfulness yoga exercises.
There are four main paths of yoga:
Bhakti - enlightenment through the practice of devotion to a spiritual being through prayer and/or chanting
Raja - enlightenment through the practice of silent meditation through the lotus posture, along with 84 other classic asanas
Karma - enlightenment through the selflessness of charitable acts, like caring for the sick or dying
Jnana - enlightenment through the practice of meditation and the intellectual study to find wisdom and knowledge
Throughout my lifetime, I have practiced elements from all four kinds of mindfulness yoga in Boston. This is where I draw most of my teachings in my one-on-one coaching sessions, not from newer forms like Bikram or Ashtanga. I then pair the physical movements of martial arts with the body-mind practice through something called “The Yanagi Method.”
In Summary: Meditation Practices Can Help With Stress
For many, the term “meditation” has lost its true meaning. It’s been too generalized to mean much of anything to most people. That’s why, to truly understand mindfulness meditation, we must look at the practices found in cultures throughout the world.
Here in Boston, there are many conventional forms of meditation training, including Zen, Vipassana, Tantra, Yoga, and more. Each of these mindfulness practices comes with its own sets of values and instructions, which may be difficult to suddenly incorporate in your life.
Within my own Boston-based mindfulness training program, I draw from a lifetime of experience with mindfulness meditation and martial arts. I do not follow one specific spiritual doctrine or belief system. Instead, I aim to teach people about mindfulness tools that they can truly use on a day-to-day basis. My goal is to help them achieve:
Relief from anxiety and stress
Improved concentration and focus
Better executive function
Greater mental strength and will power
Guidance for continued personal practice
To learn more about my personal journey in mindfulness exercises for anxiety, click here.