“Your life is always moving in the direction of your strongest thought…If you can’t control what you think, you can’t control what you do”. Craig Groeschel
Our thoughts are powerful but we can control them with practice and dedication. It is important to learn to control at least some thoughts as a creative person because it encourages “Flow” and improves cognitive performance. The mind is like a battlefield of negative vs. positive thoughts (truth and lie) battling for attention. Every thought has the power to change your thinking through the creation of new positive or negative neural-pathways.
According to Steven Kotler, Executive Director of the Flow Research Collective and New York Times bestselling author, perseverance alone is not enough to enter into Flow or succeed in life. He offers practical mindful practices to control your thinking through ‘Meditation’ and ‘Respiration’.
We take every thought captive to obedience in Christ. 2 Corinthians 19:5
- Get into the Gap: There is a gap between thoughts & emotions. “Emotions are nothing more than behavioral signals”. The brain takes in tons of information and tries to simplify and filter it down. The thought comes as a piece of information or an idea and then your mind might get either excited or anxious with the same piece of information.
You can learn to control your thoughts by learning to “Get into the Gap” to manage your emotions. Between the thinking and initial feeling. It is a quick process because the brain tends to depend on autopilot.
- Respiration 101 (7×7): Learning to practice mindfulness meditation through breathing exercises is another effective way of controlling your thoughts. One of the simplest ways is exhaling twice as long as you inhale.
When you do this, your brain thinks “She’s calm, everything must be normal, and I can stay calm.” This happens because norepinephrine and Cortisol are costly to produce and the brain can save the energy necessary if it thinks you are no longer in danger. It will try to maintain calm instead.
Remember that your exhales can be twice as long as your inhales but not over 7 or 8 seconds unless you have been practicing, as it can actually cause panic by tricking your brain into thinking you are being deprived of oxygen. Yogic Breathing is a technique for deep breathing by breathing through your nose. The focus is to control your thoughts a little bit and calm yourself down.
- Box Breathing: This Navy Seal technique has four components.
- Inhale for 5 seconds
- Hold for 5 seconds
- Exhale for 5 seconds
- Hold your exhale with all the air out for 5 seconds. (Don’t exhale for too long and hold your breath over 7 seconds. Without experience you may induce panic).
Key Benefits Box Breathing
- Increases Focus
- It helps to Regulate Your Nervous System
- Improves Your Cognitive Performance: In as little as 4-7 days you will begin to notice cognitive improvement with 20 minutes of meditation per day
- It Reduces Panic Responses Significantly over time
Controlling our thoughts and creating positive mindsets requires time and effort. You cannot wish it into existence. The Bible tells us that we have the power to control and change our thoughts through the grace of God ‘By taking captive every single thought into submission to Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:5. Look for the most dominant underlying beliefs (Core Beliefs) and tackle them one or two thoughts at a time.
Please note, these are just tips and not professional advice. I watched Steven Kotler for one of my classes and I found it very helpful which is why I decided to write about it. Thank you for reading and I hope you find the tips helpful too.
Stay Blessed Always!
CreativeLive (Producer), & . (2017). Get into your creative flow. [Video/DVD] CreativeLive. Retrieved from https://video-alexanderstreet-com.proxy.library.nyu.edu/watch/get-into-your-creative-flow