The Rooting Technique

When I was a little kid, I loved crazy weather. If there was a thunderstorm in the forecast, I would go outside and look around the horizon. And when I saw a thick wall of black clouds approach, I’d get really excited. Because I knew that very soon, there would be torrential downpour full of thunder, lightning, and the howling wind.

As the wind picked up in speed, I would watch this tree in the front yard begin to shake. Eventually, it would begin to bend back and forth. I was always amazed that this tree never broke, no matter what. It would just bend a little bit more as the wind increased. Yet, it would always come back to standing up straight after the storm blew away.

I learned that this tree never blew over because it had roots that went deep into the ground.

As the tree roots went deeper, it would then be able to reach higher. And because of its deep roots, it was able to withstand more wind.

In reality, we’re not that much different than that tree. Our ability to focus depends on how deep our roots grow. If our internal roots of awareness are shallow, we’ll get blown over by any distracting wind. Our minds will get distracted just like a dog who hears a bell. Yet, if we have deep roots that go far into the ground, we’re able to calmly be present and choose consciously where to place our focus when the wind starts blowing.

In Take Back Your Mind, a 3-day meditation journey I created to help one increase focus amidst a sea of digital distraction, we take a look at how the notification sounds we hear every day have an impulsive control over our brains and bodies. And the reality is, we’ve had many bells ringing for so long, that it’s hard to keep track of where they all began. But we do know now that our bodies are reacting in ways very similar to Pavlov’s dog. The great news is that we can take back control because unlike Pavlov’s dog, we’re able to choose our reaction to the stimulus.

To do this, I introduce a meditation tool called The Rooting Technique: taking a deep inhale while pressing your feet into the ground. When we do that in response to a chosen stimulus and from a state of relaxation, we retrain the body and the mind to see the stimulus — the buzzing notification — as a reminder to be present.

Imagine that just for a second. If every time the phone rang, or a new notification came across your way, it was a reminder to be more present. To take a deep belly breath. To deepen into the moment and focus on what matters most in your life…like deep work.

We know that deep work is often mentally and emotionally difficult. At first, it’s a lot of fun learning something new like an instrument or starting a new work project. But after the initial joy, there’s a necessary grit and resilience that’s required to wade through the difficult moments. To be able to swim through the stress.

Deep work requires consistent effort over time.

Deep work requires us to focus the mind, the body, and our emotions.

Deep work requires roots to withstand the winds of stress.

Yet, when we face stress in our lives, it’s a lot easier for the mind and the body to get distracted. In fact, billions of dollars have been spent by companies intentionally trying to win your attention, to avert stress for a tasty treat just beyond a notification.

Yet, by consciously choosing to press into the ground and deepen the breath in response to a chosen stimulus, we’re returning to deep presence. We’re strengthening our ability to withstand the increasing winds that try to blow us over.

Billions of dollars have been spent by companies intentionally trying to win your attention. Yet, we know now that no matter the level of distraction in our lives, we still have the power to choose where to place our attention if we work to build this muscle.

As my son grows up, I can only imagine what the world will look like when he becomes an adult; likely one with even more digital distractions. Yet, we know now that no matter the level of distraction in our lives, we still have the power to choose. By consciously choosing how we react to a notification, we’re able to withstand more wind. We’re able to wade through the rivers of stress. We’re able to be present for what matters most in our lives.

Because in this world of incredible distraction, our attention is our most prized possession. And it’s up to us to strengthen this muscle.

Now, we have the power to take back our minds.

Now, we can react in a way that empowers us.

Now we can choose where we direct our attention.

But it comes down to a choice: Do we take control of our mind or do we let technology take control of us? It’s a scary question, but know that with dedicated practice, it is possible to better focus your attention and take back your mind.

The Rooting Technique is simple yet extremely effective over time. It’s a bit like taking the mind to the gym. With consistent effort, the ability to focus the mind increases, and the digital distractions that once took over begin to feel like nothing more than a gentle breeze.

To fully bring The Rooting Technique into your practice, head to takebackyourmind.com.

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Mark is a soul-centric executive coach based in San Diego and a featured meditation teacher on Insight Timer where you can listen to his meditations for free.

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Mark W. Guay

Mark W. Guay

Mark is a soul-centric executive coach based in San Diego and a featured meditation teacher on Insight Timer where you can listen to his meditations for free.

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