Wednesday, October 3, 2012

5 Minutes to Conscious Control of Your Thinking, with Alexander Technique

Does it sometimes seem like your thinking goes around and around in circles and gets in the way of everything, keeping you from getting anything done? 

It’s really helpful in life to be able to think about WHAT you WANT to think about, WHEN you want to think about it. That can be very challenging sometimes, especially when you're feeling overwhelmed by many different things and are under stress.  So it's important to realize that this is a skill which requires PRACTICE! 

What if for 5 minutes every day, you actually CHOOSE what you’re going to think about? 

Here's one way to practice:

  • Set aside just 5 minutes, and make this "conscious-choice-in-thinking" time, or whatever you want to call it! Set a timer. This is a practice session. Very important:  DO NOT let yourself go longer than five minutes. When the five minutes are over, you can then CHOOSE AGAIN to do 5 more minutes, or to stop and go do something else, or to think about something else for another 5 minutes.  Or, you might choose a different length of time for your next session. 
  • Lie down on your back on the floor with your knees bent up to the ceiling, feet on the floor, head on a book or two (see link for more information on Constructive Rest Position, or Semi-Supine)

  • Then, take a moment to inhibit and think your Alexander Technique directions, if you know how to do this (if not, just rest without doing anything for a few moments; or, consider finding an Alexander Teacher to show you how to practice constructive rest - you will NOT regret this, as an expert's help with this is wonderfully insightful!).  
  • Now, CHOOSE what you want to think about as your activity for the next five minutes while you're lying down.  Are you going to think about work? food? relationships? travel? depressing thoughts? positive thoughts?  Anything is fair game for the next five minutes, but choose just ONE topic. 

You are training your brain to be selective in its thinking, to concentrate, to focus, to be under your conscious control...and that’s something we all need in life.  This is a SKILL that you absolutely must have to be successful at anything. You have to be able to focus your mind to get what you want! And you will never even know what you really want if you don’t have the skill of focusing your mind! 

A hidden bonus to this exercise is to gain the skill of STOPPING yourself from thinking about a certain topic.  This skill is at least as important as being able to stick to one topic.  You must be able to choose to stop thinking when it's time to move onto something else.  That's why setting the timer for 5 minutes and training yourself to stop is an integral part of this exercise!

Make a commitment to doing this every day for just 5 minutes. Try it every day for a week, or longer, and see what happens.  It really will work, if you make the commitment and PRACTICE. Even if you can’t do it for more than 30 seconds at first, PRACTICE this every day and it WILL get easier over time. 

*spiraling Image courtesy of Rawich /
* semi-supine photo courtesy of Imogen Ragone,

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