Attention Training

How to think fast, find your focus, and sharpen your concentration.

Reboot and Feel Good: A Winter Meditation

Slow down, cultivate … then think.

Silent witnessing is key to freedom.

~ Deepak Chopra

 

Getting more in touch with nature can help us find our deeper stillness, especially during the winter season. Within this quietude, we can fulfill our need for a deeper sense of calm. In my former post, we looked at the idea of winter creativity. It is this kind of cooling and calming energy as exemplified by the winter season that facilitates the generation of new, creative directions in our lives – big or small. For this reason, it is good to take some time each day to get out and be still with nature.

Slow Down

Use winter’s coolness to shut off your thoughts and send your attention into the present. Then, keep it there. Fill your focus with wintery images that have a positive effect on you. Tell yourself that your job is to fill up with good, positivity to replace where other elements of your day may have left you feeling drained. Use images/places you already know have this restorative effect on you or look for new ones.

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Cultivate

As soon as you begin to feel your mind clearing and “re-charging,” slow and measure your breathing – counting 1 – 4 on your in-breaths and the same when you exhale. Take a slow look around at the wintery landscape. It is okay to substitute pictures and/or recorded sounds and the power of your imagination if you wish.

Focus on the natural stillness of things – e.g. the pocket of white light filling what appear to be random spaces carved out of snow, there one minute, gone the next; the stripes of blue-gray light that dip across an open field; perhaps the low gurgle of moving water. Let your images float across your mind. Observe them. Do not disturb them. Just objectively watch them. Look closely and with patience at any one object. As various “things” such as thoughts, a feeling, etc., interrupt your observation, turn them off one by one like a light switch. In fact, use the light switch technique to keep turning off distractions if necessary. This will help you train your mind to stay focused, so repeat whenever necessary. This component can help you get better and better at keeping certain personal distraction patterns away.

As you view your chosen object, try to see subtle changes that occur with it from one moment to the next. This takes patience, but you will see – though don’t become obsessed as you will notice naturally. Perhaps the one brown leaf that moments ago was still as a brush stroke on a painting suddenly stirs – then others, then all seems still again – but not really. All is in constant flux, just slowly, slowly evolving, flowing into the next moment. Observe this characteristic of acceptance and flow in nature. Feel the peace of the movement. Let it guide you toward the same characteristics in you.

Observe the intelligence in winter: the new tree in its first winter season or the oldest tree; the bird or chipmunk; the snow slowly piling atop the mailbox. Even big change is sometimes subtle until you freeze it and look closely – and examine.

Ask yourself: How does the sky look different this time of year? What about a pond or a lake? How do they appear different?

What about the creatures? Visualize all those that are hibernating – ants, ladybugs, snakes, and butterflies burrowing under the tree bark, and bears. Visualize the fish alive below a ton of ice, see the eggs and microorganisms. Visualize the birds who have migrated and those that have not.

Sometimes when we have too much we are attending to in our minds and lives, even big change is hard to detect. The busyness of life hypnotizes, controls, and impedes.

Use the feeling (and message) of winter’s big chill to slow down drains on your mind and body and to turn up the positivity – naturally. Be there to witness the changes that are brewing so that you can successfully navigate them.

Think

Now, think of all the new and good elements that have entered your life in the past year. Perhaps, they are playing underneath the more obvious or the louder programs in your mind. Cooling down and restoring your mental and physical energy can help bring positivity into better focus. Have patience. Sometimes all it takes is a quarter of a turn. But once you see it, let yourself feel it, you can loop it over and over again and start to flow with it.

Now think: If I could create my innermost dream, what would it look like? Be creative. Be free to think outside the box. Try to see this. Slow your breathing. Take a deep breath. Exhale slowly. Take a close look. Start growing your dream.

 

Note:

For a more thorough exploration of the theme of seasonal mindfulness, you may wish to check out my newest book, The Five Seasons: Tap Into Nature’s Secrets For Health, Happiness, and Harmony.

 

Joseph Cardillo, Ph.D., is the author of Can I Have Your Attention? How to Think Fast, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Concentration.

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