Mental clutter, hyper-mind, head on overdriveŚwe’ve all been there. Here is some soothing relief.
Try these simple suggestions for slowing things down. Your concentration and memory will improve, you will gain greater perspective on your life, and you’ll be able to think more clearly and with less effort.
Learn to relax your mind as you relax your body, to reap the benefits of less stress, and gain a more calm and mindful awareness of the present moment. You will be surprised how easy it can be.
1. Witness your thoughts. No one can stop thinking entirely; it is impossible. If you start trying not to think, you only end up thinking about how to stop thinking! What you can do, however, is to withdraw from your thoughts and become more of an objective spectator.
2. Picture your mind as a blank canvas or a dark sky. Allow your thoughts to come and go, but resist the urge to follow each one. Your brain will eventually slow down and you will feel less pressured.
3. Count. If you find it difficult to let go of your thoughts, try counting slowly as you breathe. Watch your thoughts and try to resist following them. Turn your attention to the count as you breathe out.
4. Pay active attention. As you work and think, try to keep your attention on the task at hand. Be strict with yourself and each time your mind wanders, return it to the task. As you keep refocusing your attention, your “mind stillness” will improve.
5. Still your body. One sign of fragmented attention is fragmented movement. For example, when you are at the theatre, it is easy to tell if others around you are fully attentive to the performance. People who sniff and sigh, move their heads this away and that, and wiggle in their seats are having some difficulty concentrating. Rapt attention is usually accompanied by still body posture.
6. Find a comfortable position and don’t allow yourself to move. Concentrate on what you are doing or watching, drawing your attention away from physical distractions, and focus your thoughts on your task. After a while, you will notice that you fidget less and feel less physical discomfort. You are now channeled into mental exertion.
7. Interest your mind. Try to find interest in projects to help you concentrate. Taking up a new hobby can be a tremendous help. You should also try to find something interesting even in the dullest chore. If you are at a gathering, find someone and start a conversation. Be inquisitive and you might discover you have similar interests.
8. Open the mind. Just as strength, stamina and flexibility must be incorporated in your physical routine, the mind needs new and absorbing challenges to give it a change from its everyday journey. Notice something new on the same way home that you might not have noticed before. Buy a magazine on a subject you normally wouldn’t look at, read it, and open yourself to new possibilities.
Adapted from The Healing Aromatherapy Bath, by Margo Valentine Lazzara (Storey Books, 1999). Copyright (c) 1999 by Margo Valentine Lazzara. Reprinted by permission of Storey Books.
Adapted from The Healing Aromatherapy Bath, by Margo Valentine Lazzara (Storey Books, 1999).