Focus Like a Ninja: How to Reduce Stress and Sharpen Your Mind

Our desire to be more focused, to produce more, to think better, and to find clarity in our lives is often attacked from the angle of looking at our mind and how our brains can be adjusted or medicated or sharpened in some way.

But, the truth of the matter is, that as a culture, we are under a huge amount of stress that degrades the quality of our thinking and our lives and it simply can’t be completely effectively addressed by focusing on the ways in which we think, organize our days, or express gratitude for what we have every day.

When you’re under stress, it’s easy for you to lose energy because your survival mechanisms are engaged. Your energy goes to the surface of the body to make you more alert for danger. You breathe more shallowly and become unanchored from your core.

According to Qi Gong theory, your energy is more prone to be scattered or drained when it’s poorly consolidated in your core. In order to better contain your energy, you need to bring your energetic focal point back down to your energetic center. Learning to focus on and strengthen your lower dan tian will counteract stress, make you more resilient, and build energy.

Try getting in touch with your lower dan tian now:

— Let your abdomen relax completely, and allow each breath to descend the whole way
down into your pelvis. For a minute or so, imagine that you’re opening this bowl, including your hips, with every breath.

— Next, focus on a point about two inches below your navel and deep at the center of your body. By scanning around in this area, you can find a point that feels most powerful and solid. This is your lower dan tian.

— As you breathe in, imagine that you’re drawing in pure golden light from every direction, funneling it into the lower belly.

— With each exhale, imagine that you’re condensing the light into the center of the lower dan tian to a ball of light the size of a pearl. The idea is that the more dense and solid you make this storehouse of energy, the more powerfully anchored your mind and energy will be, and the harder it will be for your energy to unconsciously “leak out.”

— Repeat drawing light in on your inhale and condensing the light into your lower dan tian on your exhale. Remember to breathe deeply and fully, filling your whole abdomen down to your pelvis.

— Continue for five minutes or more.

— With your finishing exhale imaging that your pearl sized ball of light is condensing even further and envision your solid anchor of energy in your lower dan tian.

Practice shifting the center of your consciousness (which usually resides in your head, since that’s where most of your sense organs are) down to your lower dan tian as often as you think of it.

See if you can tune in to the uniquely sweet experience of feeling solid in this region.

How does it feel to stir a pot of soup or beat eggs with the movement coming from the lower dan tian?

How does it feel to initiate the movement of walking from the lower dan tian?

How about painting, or writing, or dancing, or speaking, all from the lower dan tian?

What about doing your work from your lower dan tian?

If you make this a daily practice—breathing into your belly and focusing on your lower dan tian—you’ll begin to notice that stressful events don’t throw you off the way they used to.
You’ll bounce back quicker, too.

And all that crazy overwhelming mind energy will start to be grounded into your core, so that you can think clearly, produce more, and be focused.

Using this body centered technique for reducing stress and sharpening the mind has been used by martial artists for centuries. They knew that their power didn’t come from their muscles or their mind, but from their ability to ground themselves in their center and to move from that place in all their actions.

We strongly encourage you to give it a try.

© Briana Borten and Dr. Peter Borten, authors of The Well Life

Author Bios:
Briana Borten and Dr. Peter Borten are the authors of The Well Life: How to Use Structure, Sweetness, and Space to Create Balance, Happiness, and Peace (Adams Media). Briana and Dr. Peter Borten have made it their mission to create a more peaceful world by helping individuals reestablish a sense of inner peace and balance. They are the founders of The Dragontree, a wellness organization with holistic spas in Portland and Boulder, online courses, natural body care products, and resources for vibrant living.

Peter, a Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and certified Qi Gong instructor, has taught extensively and has authored hundreds of articles on psychological and physical health. Briana is a Certified Ayurvedic Specialist, peace engineer, and CEO of The Dragontree. She writes frequently on personal development and helps people achieve their dreams and live extraordinary, healthy lives.  For more information, please visit and follow the authors on Facebook and Instagram.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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