“To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.” Lao Tzu
I like to find one thing I can focus on that will make the most difference to everything, it seems pointless to me to keep trying to correct lots of different areas of my life when mastering one will improve them all. And the one thing I found that makes the most difference is learning how to slow your thinking down. When it’s fast not only does that signal your body to feel stress, it is difficult for you to be aware of what you are thinking. And as your thinking creates feelings, if you are thinking lots of negative thoughts and add that to the stress, you will feel bad. Thinking positive thoughts fast also causes stress but in a manic way. Once you have slowed down your thinking then you will naturally feel calmer, have more choice over how you think and therefore how you feel and act. I’m sure most of us have been in situations where our busy minds have led us to act in ways we wouldn’t have if we were calmer.
Thoughts are very powerful. I do an exercise to illustrate this called muscle testing – if you think negative thoughts your muscles are weaker than for positive thoughts. This is why athletes think positive, but also why positive thinking improves health. The problem is your thoughts are mainly a habit – you think the same ones over and over. And your mind resists changing habits easily (a good feature most of the time), so making yourself think a positive thought whilst a 100 negative ones whizz in the background doesn’t work so well. If you slow your thoughts down though, that one positive thought has more impact.
What you surround yourself with also has an impact – imagine the difference between doing something new whilst someone is criticizing you or encouraging you. Everything around you has an impact – which is why listening to calming things helps. Most people just distract their busy mind (with TV?) rather than calm it though, which is a bit like trying to ignore it and hoping it goes away!! The busy thoughts are still whizzing in the background.
Of course it isn’t easy to retrain your mind, it’s a bit like a puppy that just wants to run around and play, lol. Or actually your mind is a muscle, brain scans on people who were learning to meditate show that it is actually changing shape as they become more peaceful. That is why constant repetition and chipping away at it works. (and beating yourself up for not achieving peace straight away doesn’t!) If you started training for a marathon you wouldn’t expect to be able to run all day after one session – it takes time to build up. But it’s easier to stay fit once you are fit than get fit, if you see what I mean.
Doing things you need to concentrate on keeps the mind focused on one thing only. This is like building muscle, keep practising.
Learning and practising something like meditating, or yoga, or chi gung etc
Relaxing. A busy mind is a stressed mind.
Breathing slowly – it is very difficult to think fast whilst breathing slowly!
Do what you love, or absorbs your mind (rather than distracts it – they feel very different. Absorbing is joyful, no stress whilst doing)
Go out in nature, and especially find silence. Noise and stimulation speed the mind up.
Observe what is going on in your head. Meditation helps you learn how to let the thoughts slow down, rather than feed them.
Just pausing helps. Your mind is like a spinning top and if you stop spinning it it will slow down.
Do nothing. Just sit and observe the world.
There are many techniques you can use – EFT, CBT, NLP, energy work etc. and I am currently writing a book that includes them but you can find out more in books, websites etc
The key is calming your mind little and often, just like repetitions in the gym work better than one big push.
When I first started sorting myself out I learnt NLP – which is very ‘get inside your head and remove what keeps your thoughts stuck’. Techniques like that can help but you still have to learn how to keep a calm mind. It’s a bit like getting someone to train your puppy then not doing anything with it afterwards – soon gets misbehaving again, lol. It is by practising and looking after your mind that will help it stay calm. And having experienced both I would much rather keep a calm mind, the days I let things slip I soon end up suffering and remembering how avoidable all that stress is.
And the beauty of all this is that by focusing on this one skill everything else will improve too. You be healthier and happier, which means you will act differently towards others so they react differently to you. You will make better choices, and less choices about instant relief from your mind (food, alcohol, snapping at people etc.) You will be more likely to do new things, so achieve more, and actually find you have more time. The list goes on…there is no down side to slowing down your mind…(although I should warn you 1. your mind will seem more manic when you first become aware of it, especially as it tantrums at changing, and 2. your life will change…)
Enjoy – and as I mentioned I am right now collating info on this topic for a book proposal so please give me your thoughts. Is it a common problem? What works, or when is it hardest to calm etc.