5 Practices to Quiet Your Mind
Have you ever had one of those moments, days, weeks, months, years when you feel like the constant looping of thoughts in your mind have successfully completed a hostile takeover of the rest of your being? Of course you have, and so have I! What did you do to overcome or “buy back” your divine spirit? Even the most dedicated, enlightened and spiritual people struggle with a vast majority of what presents itself on a daily basis. It can sometimes seem as if all of the self-work we do, no matter how dedicated or well intentioned we are, can sometimes be no match for the constant jabber of your mind telling you things you simply don’t want to hear and deep in your core you know aren’t the reality of your natural design.
I have very recently been struggling with some of this phenomenon in my own life as I ponder my dharma. At the risk of boring you with my personal details, let’s just say that I’m transitioning from something I’ve always done and am very good at, but am not inspired to continue, to something I love and am clearly called to do. This process almost always creates both wonderful but also fearful emotions that toy with your divine spirit. As the hamster wheel in your head begins to spin out of control and attempts to convince your soul that “you can’t do it” or “stay with what’s comfortable,” you need some methods to cope and clear your mind’s natural instinct to overwork. Methods that in some cases have been proven over centuries.
So, the question for me was, “How do I go about living my dharma while still being able to pay my bills, surf the waves of life with all of the joy and purpose that I long for and remain a sane, productive member of the universe in the process?” Add to that all of the daily actions we take, the relationships we have, the tasks we must do, traffic, to work out or not, to choose healthy foods (or not), random strangers that don’t hold doors for you… AHHHHHHHH! Point being is that it’s in our nature from the time we begin labeling our world with language as children to interpret or (mis)interpret the world around us. In this process, many of us spend 23 ½ hours of our day over analyzing unnecessary garbage over and over, awake or asleep. As a very good friend of mine explains, “It’s like bagging up your garbage, taking it out to the trash bin and then going through it again piece by slimy piece to see what’s in it.” Crazy, right? This is the same thing we do when we over think our lives and let it smother our real reason for being.
Now, even though I’m fully aware that the mind loves to over think and analyze life as it presents itself and loves to speculate about the future and concern itself with the past, I also am aware that most of this activity is to be noted, allowed to flow and then subsequently forgotten. Life is so much easier if we take it as it comes and understand that these thoughts are irrelevant in the present moment and serve no real function in helping you lead a wonderful and full life. It should also be said that setting the intention to live more from your heart or your charm almost always yields a much better result.
Life is full of wonder, happiness, love, stress, fear, worry and on and on… How YOU choose to assimilate and filter these feelings into your life will create your experience and, in turn, shape the experience of the people who you interact with each day. These simple and seemingly insignificant choices create your reality and not the other way around. The journey through your life to this moment has chiseled you into the person you are today. No amount of unnecessary thought regurgitation will have a serious impact on this wonderful process, but it can cloud you from seeing the real reason you are here. Everything we do and experience in life is all part of our evolution. The universe continues to evolve with us in every potential way. How we approach this evolution through our ability and willingness to be open to and balance the mind and spirit is what truly defines us and is ultimately how we leave our impact on the world.
There are definitely a myriad of ways to quiet the mind and bring it into balance with the rest of our divine being. Feel free to experiment and find the ones that serve you, one or all. Here are five lifestyle activities that you can add to your life “toolbox” that work well for me. They will help your divine spirit remain free and living in a healthy relationship with your chattering cranium:
1. Meditation – Practiced consistently, meditation creates a space in your life that allows for inner reflection and a break from the external busy world we experience through our senses. This modality is critical to your self work and helps to release stress and create a healthy, more awake, world view. The bliss that you bring out of meditation and into your day is the magic that helps enliven the real you and creates the awareness and space for you to share it with the rest of the world.
2. Yoga – Physical Asana is an integral part of my day. In addition to the physical benefits that strengthen your body, create balance and promote flexibility, this practice allows you to open and de-stress the body by moving into postures that create space for expansion in your life. Connect these postures to your conscious breath and your drishti (gaze), and you have a formula for physical and emotional transformation. As we know, the mind and body are attached at the hip. The wonderful expansion and growth we get from physical asana, in turn, creates the wonderful expansion and growth in our mind.
3. Journal – Write your thoughts down. One of the most amazing and creative ways to release yourself from your chattering mind is to get it out on paper or find a cool journaling app for your pad or phone, jot it down and then let it go.
4. Share Your Life – When you begin to create the life you want for yourself, you begin to open yourself up to like-minded friends and companions. This opens the door for sharing your world, the good and the not so good. Don’t overwhelm your loved ones with all of your issues, but do share with them what’s most important to you, and allow them to share with you as well. This interaction creates a deep bond that will give you comfort and also help you sort through the thoughts that don’t serve you.
5. Breathe – Breathing shallow and from the chest can create anxiety that your mind translates as a stressful experience. Breathe slowly and less shallow from the abdomen, and you’ll likely create a more relaxed and peaceful experience… the mind will follow suit. We don’t think a lot about our breathing as it’s one of the activities that the body seems to manage without much help, but it can (and will) have an impact on how you feel physically and emotionally as well as how you go about your day.