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Do you use your mind or does it use you?

Twenty Breath Challenge
The nature of the “ego mind” is such that it likes to be busy: busy with judgements, criticisms and comparisons. It likes to label people and situations; it loves to have an opinion. This part of our mind also enjoys re-running old memories, and rehearsing possible futures – sadly usually in the negative.

So take a moment and step back just for 5 minutes. Observe your mind at play. You will very likely notice that you’re thinking about the future – what you’re planning to do later on, what you might eat or drink, the friends you’re going to meet up with. Mentally, you are in the future, not the present.

And if you’re mentally in the future, that is where your energy is flowing.

Or maybe you’re trawling your past. Those times when you’re thinking about the comment your colleague made to you earlier – or when you re-run the conversation you had with your partner last night, last week or even 10 years ago – you are effectively leaking energy by being in the past.

But this incessant moving of the mind, from future to past, takes us away from the “now”. It fragments our energy.

In your 5 minute observation of the mind you might recognise some of these thoughts…

  • When the kids are at nursery, at school, at college then I will…
  • When I get that job, that car, that house, that boyfriend…
  • When I’m better, thinner, living there…

And maybe some of these demand thoughts are familiar…

  • I should be doing/having, by now be…
  • It’s not enough, it’s not right yet.

When we’re thinking in this way, what we’re really saying is, “right here, right now, this thing is not enough. Or I am not enough”.


Read that again and repeat “I AM ENOUGH”!

The crazy reality is, this is it!

This is what you’ve got right now and this is who you are at this moment in time. Constantly wanting something else or to be better or different can only bring unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

Acceptance of what is, is the key to feeling more peace and joy with yourself and your life. So how do we do that? How do we accept “what is”?

The answer is practise: practise being happy with what you have.

You’ve probably heard about developing an attitude of gratitude. You can do it right now. Stop and look around and just mentally label all the things you have in life to be grateful for. Your health, your home, your friends, a blue sky. Even the rain…


Abraham Lincoln said ‘You’re about as happy as you choose to be’. If you’re never in the moment, embracing who you are right now, what you have and where you are in your life at this particular time, then don’t kid yourself that it will all be okay when you arrive.

I’ve spent years working on my own personal development and coaching others to set goals in order to achieve their desired outcomes and I think it’s important to go for things that you want in life. So I would say, know what you want and set your goals. Then practise being here now. In order to cope with the harsh blows that life can deal us, we need strategies to ground ourselves in the moment.

I constantly coach students and clients to be present by staying connected to, and aware of, their breathing. Our breath is the most amazing guide and teacher to how we are. On average, based on 12 breaths per minute, we take approximately 17,280 breaths a day! We don’t even have to think about it. Breath breathes itself through us.

And how many of those breaths are we consciously aware of? 9,000, 2,000, 500? Nope! Probably not as many as 10!

So here’s my challenge to you:

For one week aim to be fully conscious of taking 20 complete breaths a day.

Breath in, pause, breath out, pause, that’s one breath. 20 a day.

Do it on the train, in the car, at the shops, walking down the road. Train yourself to be here now. Stop leaking energy into the past or future. Stop being a slave to where it wants to take you and make good use of your mind!

Main Image: Steve Harris

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