We are on a journey of inquiry, looking at the overall energy that we experience and bring to the world when we interact with it. Earlier in Part 1 “Energy is your winning differentiator” we looked at Physical Energy, and in Part 2 at the Emotional Energy.
It is highly recommended that you read these to familiarise yourself with the paradigm of the Batteries. We are weaving our discussion around it.
We have looked at 2 basic aspects of these batteries: Body and Breath for Physical; and, Emotions and Relationships for Emotional.
This time we will look at recharging the Mental Battery through two simple aspects of it: the Mind and the Matter.
It is quite evident that these batteries do not work in isolation. There is a huge amount of overlap, symbiosis and synergy. You charge one and you reap rewards on practically all of them, though not always evident and seldom immediate. Furthermore, charging one leads to an automatic shift in the way you stop misusing or taking better care of the other. So its always a good idea to run with one’s favorites first.
That said, there is also merit in addressing each of these energies by tuning into practices and mechanisms impacting them directly. You can get away, in some cases, with never charging a specific battery directly. But in the worst case, the suppression and denial will result in an ill-placed, ill-timed explosion/implosion. That, in turn, will make the other batteries also dysfunctional and collapse the entire system.
If that happens, nothing wrong in that too. Instead of beating yourself too hard, take the feedback. Make the necessary changes and start again.
But even in a case where nothing so drastic happens, ignoring one battery and always charging it through another, is not energy-efficient.
Charging the specific energy through its own battery mechanisms is super energy efficient and gives maximum overall EMPS in the long term.
We are living in an interesting time when the word Mental is itself undergoing expansion, transition, and acceptance at unprecedented levels. Awareness of Mental health issues has been gaining momentum. During the present Covid-19 crisis we have been sharing relevant posts on it.
In this article, we focus on the other related domain, namely the mental toughness. There too, the news has been heartening. Over the last few decades, Theories of Mind are getting renewed and the new ones are getting much-delayed respect. Psychologists, Neurologists and Cognitive Scientists are leading a transformation and getting the Nobel Prize for their body of work.
Hard Economics is bowing down to Soft Behavioral Economics, yielding to the fact that each one of us is irrational beyond measure, and especially beyond our own assessment of our irrationality. Even more especially the ones who speeded over the last sentence before letting it stink in. Yes, stink in!
Wisdom has always been the other name for holistic intelligence which combines the yin and the yang, the long-term and the short-term, and all such paradoxes. It has been telling us forever what overwhelming scientific proof from rigorous research of the last century establishes now all over again…
…that mental toughness is not the rigid, hard and quick responsiveness, the way it seems at the first look and through the windows of a fast-paced life.
…that Mental Toughness is another name for Resilience and Adaptability.
…that it is a function of working deliberately on thinking slow, on being mindful, on expanding one’s awareness AND then blending it with the thinking fast defaults.
…that there is only one way to exponentially enhance your cognitive abilities.
Metacognition at the simplest level is the ability to see oneself, one’s perceptions, and one’s mental processing. It is the ability to take feedback and to learn. Remember when we had this ability at its peak? In the early years of our life…When we used to play a lot. And play we did with playfulness. In essence, it is all about reclaiming that playfulness and the cognitive rewards that come with it.
Let’s look at the two aspects of Mental Energy and Recharging through them.
When you are in your 7th virtual meeting, or the 4th webinar of the day, wonder what karmic debts you are trying to repay by being there! One of my friends does an extreme job of the ‘5 whys technique’ by eventually ending up questioning why did his parents bring him into this world! You don’t necessarily have to go that far. Unless you love the technique a lot, of course!!
OR Set the Mindfulness Alarm. For twice a day, say for 11:33 and 3:33 with some lucid instructions to yourself for anchoring mindfulness in your day. As the alarm goes on, stop and watch what you are doing. Wonder. Why are you doing it? And how?
Having even this simple mindfulness practiced a few minutes a day can make it expand in your life. It gets better if you have a buddy or a coach to share it with. Gradually, the priorities start becoming clearer. You start aligning with being meaningful and purposeful. And you apply your mental energies with more acuity.
OR take on one or two activities every day to do mindfully. Meaning, doing them with complete attention and being totally one with the experience. Say the lunch or the evening tea. In the beginning, you may need to consciously and deliberately call it out: what hue or shade does this tea have? how is this sip different from the last one? how is the aroma shifting from the first sip to the last?
OR be mindful of how many mindfulness practices you have taken on! This one included. It is worth its weight in gold for some of us!!
Maintain a journal. Write down what matters occupy your mental space, and drain or charge your mental energy? Is that happening all by default, like an automatic thinking mechanism?
A version of journaling is to write 3 pages free-flow first thing in the morning. My favorite author Julia Cameron has written at least three books, eulogizing this version that she calls, ‘The Morning Pages’. (I never finished some of those books, ending up writing myself after a few pages of her inspiration. You can do the same by stopping right now to start writing instead! Do come back to read ahead later.)
Journal writing can be done as the last thing in the night, or at 7 o’clock. or 8. or 9… You get the drift. Do it anytime during the day instead of not writing at all!!
It can give you surprising results within days as the inner chatter gets vented out and eventually subsides. Conflicts and confusions give way to clarity and conviction. Plus a truckload of positive surprises which you will discover only gradually!
The only instructions to take journaling to the level of alchemy:
1. Write without any filters or censors.
2. Write in hand. Handwrite.
Put the pen to paper!
Or think of six impossible things before breakfast. Six (im)possible scenarios in the face of an uncertain situation like some aspect of the present pandemic.
When your neurons fire up and get connected in new ways with you exercising imagination, they eventually learn to do new things faster and faster. This can translate eventually into a strategic mindset when you most need it, innovative ideas even when you don’t want them, and a refined outlook to life, especially when you are resisting it.
OR you can do more rigorous and structured work around those matters occupying your mental space. Like doing a deliberate and detailed analysis of something using tools from your profession. (Decision Tree or FNTStick Decisioning Technique instead of mentally or verbally doing these analyses). Be honest – when was the last time you spent a significant time actually using such tools or techniques in spite of knowing them.
The big value of this and the earlier practice is in doing it with the ancient art of, “putting the pen to paper”. And much against the common belief, Surgeon General has not yet declared putting pen to paper injurious to health!!
The “Thinking slow” that writing in hand or doodling generates would make another Nobel Prize winner happy (2012). (Though expecting him to jump with joy would be quite irrational!)
Thinking slow, literally triggers a completely new set of neurons in your brain and can unleash new cognitive abilities.
Conversely, doing everything mentally is one of the worst thinking habit one can have.
Or Yawn and eat something sweet. and repeat. Whatever you think matters to you, what matters to your brain are two foods that it works on. Oxygen and Sugar.
When you yawn, it is not always an indicator of boredom. It indicates that your brain is getting overworked and needs more oxygen for that. I would go even a step further to recommend inducing yawns every once in a while.
And before the Fructose Fanatics in my connection list drown me in corn syrup for talking so irresponsibly about sugar, let me quickly recommend that it would be best for your brain to avoid processed sugar. Instead, try getting it in the form of sucrose and fructose, from unprocessed sources like fruits, dry fruits and jaggery. The rougher, the better. And of course, honey, honey, honey….
The biggest paradox of mental battery is that it charges when you give it sufficient rest and then rigorous, deliberate playful practice. Like the cricketers do on the nets. Or the musicians in their attic every day. Come to think of it, that is true for all the batteries.
Try these practices. Instead of that, just thinking about them or processing them mentally is energy inefficient and a big disservice to the Mental Battery.
We will be looking at the Spiritual Battery next. From the overwhelming responses on these posts, we will have one on the meta-issues also, like the interconnections and general principles applicable to EMPS altogether.