I have a confession about Thursday. Sometimes this happens when I venture our after a busy week. By the end of the night I was lying on the floor in a warm room surrounded by other people who had all clearly had a very busy week.
It was dark and in the background I could hear this guy speaking slowly and quietly as we lay there. None of us could move quickly, we were all in a kind of stupor, tongues tied, physically slow to respond, slumped and quite close to being unconscious. What was happening?
No, we weren’t drunk, we hadn’t been drugged or joined a cult. What we had done was something that happens frequently. We had altered our state. This was a Yin yoga class, probably one of the more immersive I’ve been in, but a great experience. As a group, under the guidance of our instructor, things had changed compared to day-to-day life. Our state had altered. But, what does that mean?
What is a state?
Your state is a description of how you are internally. During the night your state is one of relaxation. Every day that changes when you wake up and become conscious. During the day your state could be introspective/thinking (downtime) or you could be outwardly focussed on a group of people, like during a presentation (uptime).
There lots more examples – you can probably think of times when your state changes. You could be driving and forget how you did the last 20 miles, that’s a change of state, going on autopilot, but your still conscious, but partly switched off.
How to change your state?
During the day you need uptime to be alert and deal with things and downtime to plan, recharge or review and consolidate learning.
Here are some ways to change your state overtly:
- Change your location. Your environment has a big effect on your state. Go outside on a cold day and you’ll notice a difference. Have the sun on your face and a few lungfulls of air can be enough to shift your perspective.
- Change your position. If I asked you to sit down and curl up in a reflective pose, that change would prompt your brain to do ‘relaxing’. Stand in the centre of a room with arms open and your head up, how does that feel? Posture drives your state.
- Change your focus. What you say to yourself is an environmental factor that directly controls your state. Having some positive words for yourself (rather than running yourself down) encourages a more ‘can do’ approach. There are some great techniques for achieving this. The media you spend your time consuming also feeds your inner thoughts and what you obsess on.
There are many other ways to change your state. Like most changes this starts with some self awareness.
Have a think about your state in the last few days and what’s been driving it. What were you like last Thursday at 20.45?
Has your state served you well or hindered you this week? What else could you try to make it work to you advantage?
Maybe try a Yoga class or start with a physical change to take it somewhere new. Remember who is in control (stating the obvious).