We all know Mindfulness works
Mindfulness. It’s really become quite the buzzword in recent times even though mindfulness practices have been used for millennia. Most of us agree that mindfulness practices are a positive thing and would benefit our life. There’s abundant research illustrating the positive effect that mindfulness practices have on quality of life, improved focus, and decreased stress. From Fortune 500 companies to elementary schools, mindfulness practices are being used every day in practical application and controlled studies with wonderful outcomes.
But we think we don’t have time
Unfortunately, most of us tend to pump the brakes when we think about sequestering even a small amount of time or a quiet space to practice mindfulness. You might think to yourself, “A quiet space? Ten minutes? What? Forget it. I don’t have time.” Out of survival in the moment, we allow screaming children, occupational pressures, general life stress, and technological distractions to consume our precious minutes. The result of brushing mindfulness practices aside is more stress and a decreased quality of life.
Mindfulness in 30 seconds?
What if I told you that the benefits of mindfulness could be obtained in as little as 30 seconds in almost any setting? You might think that I’m selling snake oil or, at a minimum, it’s too good to be true. The reality is it is true and is being done regularly by people that I’ve trained in the method that I’m about to share with you, ranging from elite athletes to doctors to parents. I first developed the technique I call “the 3×3 Method” when my daughter was about one year old.
For those of you with children, you know that parenting brings great joy but also an incredible amount of stress. I found myself experiencing increased muscle tension, headaches, and anxiety as I rushed from home to work to home to the playground, to home to bed to work to home to the playground, and on and on the carousel went. I became extremely uncomfortable, and so I set out to do something about it.
Now, as a psychotherapist working in the high-pressured environment of the Silicon Valley, I am inherently passionate about mindfulness techniques. Thought I had it in the bag. I set out to give it a try. Unfortunately, I fell right into the “hurry, hurry, hurry, I don’t have time” trap. What’d that get me? More stress, more headaches, more anxiety – the whole thing. I kept plugging along and still had very little positive result. So I thought, well, maybe I’ll try and get some feedback. I wore a heart rate monitor to gauge my physical response to different techniques that I was trying.
The game changer – the 3×3 method
Kept plugging along and still was not having the type of result that I had hoped for until I paired one of the most basic breathing techniques alongside one of the most basic mindfulness techniques. That’s when it clicked. That was the game changer. My heart rate began to drop consistently. My psychological responses to stressors in the environment were significantly altered. Thus, “The 3×3 Method” was born. The 3×3 Method is extremely simple. All you’re going to do is identify one physical object in the environment, name it, and take one deep breath, and repeat it three times. Now, keep in mind, most everyone that I’ve trained in this model looked at me like I was spouting nonsense until they tried it.
First – pick your objects
So you’re not alone if you feel the same way, and don’t worry, we’re going to do it together in just a minute, okay? All right. So I want you to find – think of and find three physical objects in your environment. It can be anything: it can be your desk, someone sitting next to you, your computer screen, a lamp. Literally anything. It’s important not to fall into a particular trap that I’ve seen many people fall in, and that is to add subjective descriptors to the object, like that’s my favorite stool or I really like Johnny. When we add these subjective descriptors, adjectives, etcetera, it brings about subtle emotional reactions that muddle the process. So you’re simply going to say, “That’s a stool.” Nothing else.
When you name the object, you’re going to do so in your mind, not out loud. If you do this at work or on the bus or train, people might start to think, you know, you’re having a little trouble that day. Okay? And when you take your breath, you’re going to do so through your nose or mouth, whatever is comfortable for you. Ultimately, it is best if you choose the objects yourself, but for the sake of this talk and for us to do it together and things to be expeditious, I’ve picked out three objects for us: a mouse pointer, a stool, and a screen.
Ready to give it a try together? All right, here we go. That’s a mouse pointer. Take a deep breath. (Inhales) (Exhales) That’s a stool. Deep breath. (Inhales) (Exhales) That’s a screen. Another deep breath. (Inhales) (Exhales) So, how do you feel? A little less stressed? A little more relaxed? It’s good, right? And it’s insanely simple. I even use it at night if I wake up, worried about the children or work or whatever, and I can’t get back to sleep. You can even do what I call a “9×9,” which is doing the process three times in a row, and you can do that too if you’re ever in a tight spot.
When to “3 x 3”
So when are you going to use the 3×3 Method in your life? We all experience repeated stressors in our daily lives that tax our ability to stay present in the current moment, focus, and manage our stress. I want you to take a moment to think about one of these repeated stressors that you experience. It shouldn’t be too hard. Do you have something? Okay. So let’s make a promise to each other: the next time that we experience one of these stressors, we’ll use the 3×3 Method to try and manage it.
The future of the 3×3 Method
The people who are using the 3×3 Method continue to inspire me in the myriad of situations and occupations and life settings in which they’re using it. I have an elite runner using it during long races to keep stamina; a spine surgeon using it during complex procedures to stay calm; even a CEO using it right before making big decisions. Really, anyone can use it in almost any setting – from parents to business people to doctors to athletes.
Back to Now
Finally, the 3×3 Method can be used to help us avoid the ever-growing, addictive nature of the impulse to check our digital devices. The next time that you’re in line at the store and you have that urge to take your phone out and check social media, send a text, read an email – don’t. Use the 3×3 Method instead to bring yourself back to the current moment. Every moment has meaning. Time is precious. Don’t miss out.