This is a guest post by By Shawn Haywood
Let’s face it, we all share one very annoying thing in common. What is that one thing? It is the “crazy brain,” “monkey mind,” and “inner yammerings” that, let’s be honest, too often makes us resemble a complete mad man!
It’s that absurd, silly, irritable, resentful, fearful or irrational voice inside that seems to be dead set on driving us bananas! Some days, the chatter seems endless; other days, there are only brief periods of monkey madness. My guess is that if we could record a week’s worth of thinking, and then play it back to an audience, we’d not only be mortified, we’d realize how much time we had wasted and just how unproductive we can be. Honestly, few people need more time in life; they just need a quieter brain and additional focus on that which we DESIRE to spend our thoughts!
I used to live in a transitional area of downtown Atlanta where homeless people are regular (and to me, welcomed) fixtures. Common consensus concludes that the majority of homeless people who are walking around ranting and raving, seemingly speaking to the air, are “crazy.” But…I’m not so sure the gap between “us” normal people and “those” crazy people is so vast. “Us” normal peeps just aren’t spouting our madness aloud!
We live in a non-stop, do more, buy more, achieve more society that makes a quiet mind and peaceful existence “the road less traveled.” Yet, learning to become increasingly quiet minded is pure, unadulterated liberation and peace.
One of my clients’ most common goals is to “quiet my mind.” But how can you do this on your own? Is a quiet mind really possible? As I, and many, many of my clients, can certainly attest, it is more than possible. Of course, as you become increasingly dedicated to this piece of WELL-being, your mind becomes increasingly softer, gentler, more compassionate, loving and, yes, quiet.
There are many ways to achieve this goal. Here are three of my favorites: Don’t be put off by how simple these actions are, simply embrace and practice each one.
Take Liberated Action! To move out of your head, you need to move into your body space. The following tools will teach the door to your mind to close and an inner door to physical and spiritual connection to open. Transcending the mind is the goal of the following tools.
Many people believe meditation to be either too difficult or too time consuming. Neither could be further from the truth.
Most likely, you’re just not practiced at meditating. You are, however, highly practiced at frantic, non-stop thinking, which creates massive amounts of fearful, anxious and depressed states. Meditation is easier than you think.
First you must find yourself worthy of the gift of a silent mind.
Then, you need only take five minutes twice a day for 30 days to start, and no more.
Consider the 90 minutes each day (or more) you find yourself zoning out on Facebook or Pinterest! We engage in escapes like social media, shopping, alcohol, etc. for the purpose of escaping our thoughts and feelings. So why not use the gift of true silence to do the same, but in very healthy and life-promoting ways.
Of course at first, you’ll feel like your mind is even busier as you try to shut it down during your five-minute practice periods. You’ll seem busier only because you are drawing your full attention to just how frantic life is.
The trick is consistency, patience and self-compassion --- Let go of judgment as you sit quietly. Imagine your thoughts as leaves falling from a tree in autumn. No leaf is particularly interesting or worth attaching to, as it is with your thoughts. Simply notice each thought, and let it fall away.
Over the coming weeks, you will feel an increased sense of lightness as you commit to this new, self-adoring habit. Once you complete your first 30 days, begin adding an additional five minutes per day, per month until you get to two 30-60 minute meditation periods per day. (Then send me an email to tell me how amazing your experience is!)
In addition to meditation, journaling is the second most “resisted” task in mental, emotional liberation.
Journaling causes you to get very real with yourself. And let’s face it, shopping and partying seem a whole lot more fun than digging deep.
But, if you want calm in your brain and peace in your life, meditating and journaling are key practices. As with meditating, you only need to dedicate 10 minutes per day to begin. There is no right or wrong way to journal, just show up with a pen and paper—or a laptop. Some people are more comfortable hand writing in an actual notebook, but if it’s more convenient, don’t hesitate to type out your feelings. What matters is that you express them and get them out of your head.
Again, you must find yourself worthy of this gift of quiet...
Journaling is an offering to your spirit. As you get your mental stories out of your head and onto paper, a magical calm rests in their place. The best times to journal are morning or just before bed, but any time is better than no time! Write anything that comes to mind. Bullet points, stream of consciousness, sentence fragments: it doesn’t matter. Just get the frantic banter out!
3) MINDFUL FEET
Mindfulness practice is a form of meditation but with the added benefit of movement focus. It is a lovely portal to spirit and self-connection.
The simplest way to begin is by focusing on how it feels for your feet to make contact with any surface they connect with. Literally, feel the sensation of touch and the micro amount of space that exists between any surface and your feet.
Your feet experience may feel tingly, soft, light or airy. If your brain begins to attempt to make some kind of sense of the experience, let those thoughts fall away as leaves, and tune back into the experience of your feet!
As you practice, you can use mindfulness focus with any part of your body. This is also a fantastic way to obtain a sense of flow in long-distance sports.
Have fun slowing down your mind and becoming amazingly calm!
If you’d like to make a stronger commitment to a calm mind and a peaceful experience of life, reach out anytime; I’d love to help you!