Mind over Matter

brainHow much does it matter to you for your mind to be as fit and well as possible? My friend Keiron runs a cognitive testing and development business (MyCognition) where, for a few pounds, you can get your cognitive strengths tested. I came out with an overall strength of 68%, which I was appalled with, until Keiron told me the average is 60%! Since then I’ve been undertaking ways to increase the wellness of my mind.

My quest has taken me into the depths of meditation; into full-on mindfulness; self-hypnosis; into activities that stretch both sides of the brain like juggling and I’ve also taken up exercise on a relaxed basis e.g. jogging, walking, hill walking, golf and the like. My cognitive skills have improved but not as much as has my hearing, my short-term memory and my aching bones.

Now to the real crux of the matter. How has my mind changed? I’ve become more focussed, less distractible, more relaxed around stressful situations, more level headed and less impulsive. My decision-making has improved greatly which is borne out by better results and my team are enjoying more autonomy and a greater sense or teamwork. Can I blame it all on improving my mind? I don’t know. However, whatever I am doing is having some wonderful unintended consequences.

Here’s an example from this morning. I set out for a 5 kilometre run around our community streets. I wanted to be mindful of the event and so I concentrated on bringing my mind back to my breathing every time it wandered off. I noticed how all the front gardens are 90% green with little colour. I surmise this is because they stay green all year and so the garden looks tidy all year. I’d never considered this before. I noticed that 80% of owners drive into their front drives in a forward direction and then reverse out. I noticed how this could be a safety issue as the high hedges obscure the view from of the main road for the driver. I noticed street details I’d never seen before and we’ve lived here 25 years. There were many more observations.

The absolute key to the experience was that it took me no longer than normal to complete my run and at the end I felt I had a lot more energy left than normal. I also realised that a couple of difficult work situations have potentially simple solutions.

Was this all due to a mindful run? I don’t know. What I do know is that looking after my mind as much, if not more than, my body has given me an increased energy, better focus and a much more rewarding quality of life.

As with all things it won’t suit everyone but I do urge you to at least try it for yourself before you dismiss it. We need strong leaders. A strong body and a well and strong mind are, in my opinion, integral parts of great leadership.

It would be wonderful to receive some of your experiences. Thanks. Steve