A reader recently sent me a fascinating piece of research. Psychologists had two groups of people perform cognitive tests; one group wearing normal clothes and the other wearing a white lab coat. You win no prize for guessing that the group wearing the lab coat performed better than the other group. In other words, they were 'smarter'.
his experiment was repeated but this time both groups wore identical white coats. One group was told that it was a painter's smock, while the other group understood it to be a lab coat. Again, the lab coat wearers performed better.
The researchers concluded that clothes not only affect how others see us, but also how we perceive ourselves. What is the relevance between this study and mindfulness?
It got me thinking about how clothes are really part of our environment. Granted, they're very symbolic and say a lot about who we are, but ultimately they're external to the self. If our clothes influence our behaviour to an extent that's both measurable and significant, surely the rooms that we occupy have a similar effect on our psychology.
As we find ourselves in the middle of spring, the time has come to start cleaning. De-clutter your environment. Meditating in a tidier, cleaner space will improve your ability to concentrate for longer periods of time. Practicing mindfulness outdoors will contribute to a sense of "oneness with nature". Your environment matters.
It's important to make a distinction. Ritualising your meditation practice - creating a clean space, using incense, sitting up straight, etc. - in all likelihood will not make your mind quieter or less apt to jump around from topic to topic. As President Trump says of Kim Jong-un, humans are pretty smart cookies. Our minds like to think. It's what they do.
So tidying up will not stop the monkey-mind jumping from branch to branch. However, it may provide a clean space in which to develop an Observer-Self. The Observer-Self doesn't have to be bothered by the internal dialogue that surrounds it. This is the goal of mindfulness.
Joseph Pond is a clinical hypnotherapist, an acupuncturist and a mindfulness instructor. He is co-founder of Hypnosis Explorers NI and conducts workshops in hypnosis with PowerTrance. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at https://www.facebook.com/Belfast Hypnosis/ ?ref=hl/?ref=hl