Our mind is a magnificent machine, but as I’ve said before, it’s akin to the computer that thinks it’s human. Many believe they are their mind.
Yet there is a deeper knowing within each of us that we can tend to ignore. Instead of quieting the chaos in our head, we dwell on things, amplify them, and they grow like a snowball. When we fixate on the thoughts in our mind, we can never be present, we are stuck in the past or in the future, but we are not really here, now, this moment.
There’s a term that has been coined for a new movement, mindfulness, which is interesting as it describes the root cause it’s designed to tackle rather than the practice itself, the illness rather than the cure so to speak; an oxymoron. Mindfulness’ practices have of course been around as long as humans, but lost respectability among the masses. In its more modern naming the masses are taking note; the masses of stressed out, frazzled people who would otherwise have rejected meditation as a bit hippy or new age. Anything that brings us to our senses has to be a good thing.
It’s amazing how many phrases we commonly use, like ‘bring us to our senses’ that contradict what people often express as their more cynical viewpoint about life and it’s deeper meaning, and the way others might go about connecting with that. Our senses are many, yet we rely on our 'rational' mind to try and interpret them. In truth, there’s a part of you that interprets the world around you and it’s congruence to the path in life you truly want to take far quicker.
If you wake up in the morning and take some time for contemplation before you leap out of bed and into the frenetic flow of the day, you will connect far more easily with the things that are really important to you and those you want to achieve. This is the time in the day to set your intentions, start with the big picture in mind, rather than the inevitable endless stream of emails that will surely be waiting.
It’s easy to make excuses about why it’s not possible to do that. I know, I’ve spent the last few years of my life being woken through the night by my daughters and feeling like I’m experiencing some sort of sleep deprivation torture. But I’ve been taking time lately to make sure I hit the reset button.
I have a choice when I'm awoken - resistance or acceptance. Often I get woken and think “no, no, no, it can’t be time to get up already”. Then I catch myself, I stop the thought before it starts to grow like a snowball. In the past I’d have been thinking “If she starts whining for milk I’ll scream” or “Why can’t he get his lazy butt out of bed for once instead of pretending to still be asleep” or worse.
Caught unaware and called from our sleep most of us are less than congenial. Lately I’ve started to be more ‘mindful’ and hear Kim Eng’s voice (I regularly do her yoga class on DVD) “accept the is-ness of this moment”. Then I quickly follow that with my intention for the day of “unconditional love”. I’ve been amazed at how these quick flashes of thought in the morning have reset the tone for the day. The unthought-of ruminations that had started to appear like shadows in my mind suddenly recede and the sun comes out. Well, maybe not the sun, but certainly not the raincloud and lightening thunderstorms of yesteryear.
When we get trapped in our head, and negative thought patterns start to kick in, it’s important for your wellbeing to catch them quickly and move on. My daughter tripped and hurt her arm this week, taking the top layer of skin off, resulting in some antiseptic being applied at bedtime. As it started to sting, she felt pain and began to cry. She was so tired that I kept thinking she’d fall asleep, but instead she was fighting it, fixated on the pain. After much crying and attempts to sooth her I said “you’re stuck in your head, thinking about it is making it a lot worse”. She said miserably “I am?”
I started to distract her by retelling the stories about when she was a baby, a topic I know she loves, and then a thought crossed my mind. She wasn’t going to sleep anytime soon, so I asked her whether she’d like to get up and look at her baby book. We had a wonderful time looking through it together. At last she was ready for bed, distracted enough that she no longer felt the pain.
When you start to get trapped in your head, anywhere, anytime, make a point of breaking the hold the thought has. Until you do you’ve lost your perspective. And that perspective is the one of the bigger picture for your life. Most of you can’t articulate what that is, but you know it deep inside. You feel good when you’re in tune with it, and bad when you’re not. So if you’re stuck in some vortex of self destruction, deliberately break out.
The best thing you can do for your wellbeing and your success in life is to regularly and proactively go out of your mind. I mean this in a healthy way of course. Whether it's ‘Mindfulness’, meditation, or simply an activity you really enjoy that lets you relax, it’s important for you to tune in, turn on and get the best of you each day.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
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