Modern mindfulness is often positioned as a tool to relieve symptoms of stress, and while this is a useful side effect, the primary intention of traditional yogic meditation goes much further than this.
The purpose is to substantially increase the capacity of a person to flourish as a leader in society.
In a similar way, modern yoga is often focused on relieving back pain or assisting with sleep, and it can do these things very well. But when the full range of potent yogic techniques are more completely applied, the effect is to draw out the faculty of genius in regular people.
Yogic practices of concentration and breathwork facilitate an increase in the working memory and attention span of practitioners, young and old. The ability to control the functioning of the nervous system is enhanced, allowing you to adjust your energy levels with far more control. For example, you could engage these techniques to energise yourself moments before a board meeting, and to then calm yourself afterwards.
What these practices essentially do is enhance our ability to hold several facets of ourselves in the mind simultaneously.
This might seem like a tall order, but the techniques make it quite easy and natural with consistent practice of even 10 or 20 minutes per day.
The great thing is that these methods make you feel good in the moment as well. There is no frustration in authentic yogic practices, instead you experience a gentle uplifting which tends to make you smile and require less coffee each day.
The long-term effects of engaging with these practices are many – they result in a wider, more expansive field of vision and greater capacity to plan for the future. This is where we find the greatest benefit personally and in business and the community. A true leader can clearly visualise their direction while simultaneously genuinely hearing the needs of stakeholders.
A visionary leader has a well-developed relationship with their intuition and makes positive decisions which demonstrate compassion and strength of will. These are the people who are remembered for years to come, and these are the qualities that traditional yogic techniques nurture and develop.
Many of us have the fortunate experience of working with inspiring bosses and mentors who demonstrate what we can achieve in our fields, with the clarity and patience to hold space for intense moments. These are the calm and clear-headed people that we turn to in the midst of a storm – they can process challenges that crop up within themselves and within the people around them.
Here is a beginner technique you can practice for a few minutes each day:
- Sit comfortably with your chest up nice and high and start breathing through your nose.
- Keep your eyes closed and begin to breathe more deeply while keeping the length of the inhale and then exhale the same, count to 5 on each inhale and each exhale.
- Keep breathing deeply and slowly and see how many seconds long you can extend the breath while remaining comfortable with your chest up and shoulders relaxed.
- After 10 or 20 breaths go back to normal calm breathing through your nose.
- Create a scene in your imagination by a river with trees and blue sky and birds.
- Hold this scene in your mind and allow it to become colourful and detailed
- Imagine yourself there, allow yourself to feel what it feels like in the fresh mountain air.
- Be curious and exploring the area, notice more birds and sounds, and take a high definition photography of the scene so that you can come back to it tomorrow.
- Stay there for as long as you like and then open your eyes, and go about your day
With practice, you will find that your ability to visualise the scene, and other scenes, improves a great deal.