Plus, there’s science behind the success of each one…
As a child, did you ever do that science project designed to test the effects of music on plants? In the experiment, each student is assigned two little sprouts to care for. The experiment consists of playing music for one plant but not the other. Typically, the plant that enjoyed Mozart’s greatest hits (or, say, Brittany Spears’ breakout album, on repeat) always grew more than the plant that just received sunlight and water.
Both plants probably grew, but only one flourished.
Why is that?
Let’s dive in by returning to our favorite formula: Intention + Attention = Manifestation. When it came to the plants, the intention was for them to grow and flourish. But things changed when testing the plants’ growth under differing conditions. While both plants received a regular dose of attention to maintenance, the plant for which music was played likely received extra attention that carried a higher energy level. (Whether you knew it as a kid or not, as the music-playing experimenter, you were also holding an intention of loving-kindness for the plant, whereas, with the other plant, you likely just performed basic, routine care.
It wasn’t the musical notes alone that manifested the change. The energy of additional loving-kindness YOU brought to the space with intention and attention had an influence too. (Yes, you are so powerful you can make plants grow with your mind.)
Japanese businessman and author Dr. Masaru Emoto performed a similar study of his own, titled Water, Consciousness, and Intent, which basically expands upon the ideas of that childhood experiment, using water molecules. His research demonstrated that human thought has the power to change the molecular structure of water.
We know that thoughts are mental units of energy. Some studies have shown that emotions can radiate up to five feet from the body. Dr. Emoto took this information and applied it to crystalized water. While in liquid form, he assigned different words to water taken from the same pond specimen. Once frozen, the water that was given positive words crystalized into beautiful designs. The water that received negative words either didn’t crystalize or crystalized into an amorphous mess.
Let’s assume, though controversial, that Dr. Emoto’s research was on to something. Now consider the fact that the human body is made up of 60 percent water. If positive and negative energy can transform plain pond water, imagine what they can do to all the cells and tissues in our body. Consider the power our thoughts and feelings have over our general health and well-being!
Everything we encounter in the world carries energy, and all that energy emits different vibrational frequencies. When we have a thought or set an intention, it physically radiates out into the world around us, impacting people, things, future possibilities, and us—all through the power of thought.
So, how can we all become the flourishing plant or the beautifully crystallized water? Through present-moment mindfulness, of course. Try one of these daily awareness practices the next time you’re feeling a little wilted—you’ll be amazed by the power they hold.
- Mentally scan your body, starting with the crown of your head and moving down towards the soles of your feet, noting the sensations in different parts of your body without judgment.
- Focus your attention on your breathing, zeroing in on how your body experiences the function of breathing in your nostrils, lungs, or abdomen. How does breath arrive differently in each of these areas?
- Tune into bodily sensations or sounds as they arise. What does a hungry body feel and sound like, compared to a sleepy body, compared to a satiated one? Try to be present with each sound and sensation for as long as it occurs.
- Imagine yourself as an outside observer of yourself as you consider your thoughts and emotions. Can you watch them arise and then recede? Can you offer yourself compassion for what you’re experiencing?
- Tune into the external soundscape around you. Try to identify individual sounds within the noise of your setting. Let one sound come to the forefront of your hearing, then allow it to fade into the background as you invite something different into your consciousness.
- Focus your thoughts, noticing any time you think an “I am” thought. Don’t like the inner monologue you have with yourself? Replace it. Try “I am” statements like: I am loving; I am kind; I am strong. Notice how your external experience changes as your inner one does.
- Try a compassion mindset. Bring yourself into a sense of kindness for yourself or anyone else who might enter your consciousness in the present moment.
- Try a kindness mindset. Set an intention of kindness that you first offer to yourself, then others. Begin sending a kind intention to your loved ones, then consider neutral people to you, and finally, offer kindness to those who are difficult. Engaging with this practice in a meditation setting will support your ability to offer kindness in real-time, off the meditation cushion.
- Try forgiveness. Forgive yourself for being human, experiencing things beyond your control, and struggling with factors like genetic makeup, the neurological wiring of your brain, cultural differences, and social norms.
- Don’t just think kind thoughts; say them aloud—whether you’re in the presence of others or not. Your words and language have power.
- Take a purposeful pause. Try setting an alarm several times a day as a reminder to take a fifteen or thirty-second pause. In those pauses, notice what thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations are present. In your mind, say “yes” to each—letting you know you’re enough as you are, in every present moment.
- Have an email strategy. (This might sound silly, but I promise it will change your daily life!) Develop a personal protocol for responding versus reacting to emails or any other media through which others can get in touch with you. For example, a simple post-it stuck to your computer that says: “Give yourself 24 hours to respond.”
- Use driving as a time to tune in. The next time you’re in your car, turn off the radio and steady your wandering mind. Pay attention to any physical sensations of being in the car and driving. Notice the particular details of your route—especially if it’s one you travel frequently. What can you pay attention to that usually goes unnoticed by your conscious mind?
- Tie mindfulness to mundane daily tasks. Pick one daily task, like washing dishes or brushing your teeth, and stay fully present in the direct experience of the task. Note when your mind wanders and gently bring yourself back to your direct experience.
- Pay close attention the next time someone is speaking to you. Whether personal or professional, behave as though paying attention is the most fundamental expression of love or respect in your relationships. Stay fully present in the direct flow of energy and information, pulling yourself back to the other person’s words and expressions whenever your mind might begin to wander.
As you dig deeper into each of these practices, discover how you connect (or don’t) to each one. Don’t just focus on the narrative you tell yourself about the practice, but rather tune into the ways your body, mind, and soul connect to the practice and one another. I believe the space you create on your mat (or wherever you sit in silence with yourself) is the most sacred, holy space that anyone could ever be present and in communion with their most authentic self and others.
In other words, it’s worth the effort.
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