It's 2018 and our "monkey minds" seem to be even more active than ever to the point where we have accepted that this is normal. But the truth is that this is not the way we are meant to operate. Our "normal" state of being is calm, grounded, aware and in the moment.
We have lost touch with this natural way of operating through the learned behavior of doing, doing, doing! From to-do lists, to working more, worrying more, buying more, planning the future, stressing over the past, holding on to expectations, this mindless chatter has become a mental habit!
I've been there and I can 99.9% guarantee that I'm not alone. In this very active, fast paced world, I sometimes feel like I'm literally on a roller coaster. Up, down, this way, that way....it's a whirlwind of a ride and feels like it will go on forever. Now, we have no control of the external world, but our internal world, that's something we DO have a say in...
So if you are with me and feel that you struggle to calm your "monkey-mind", try these 5 simple ways to get you started back on your path of a more calm and balanced life.
1. Awareness- A KEY that will unlock anything that you want to change.
Once you are aware of something, it stays in the forefront of the mind. Like if someone said, "Wow, you look great in that green top, it really brings out your eyes." - you will, more likely, be aware of that next time you wear it or maybe even wear it more often.
There is a popular story about a businessman who visits a teacher for guidance to help calm his mind. The teacher offers a cup of tea and then begins to pour it. As the tea flows over the top of the cup the surprised businessmen asks the teacher:
“Why are you still pouring the tea?”
The teacher replies: “Your mind is like this overflowing cup. It's so full there's no more space for anything else.”
So the first thing necessary is to become aware, be a witness to how overactive & "full" your mind is. Then you can start to make the shifts and change.
The easiest way to quiet the mind is through your breathe. Breathing slowly and mindfully activates the hypothalamus, connected to the pituitary gland in the brain, to send out neurohormones that inhibit stress-producing hormones and trigger a relaxation response in the body.
So start with a slow, deep breathe in for 3 counts, hold your breath at the top for 5 counts and exhale out for 7 counts, repeat this several times.
The overactive mind might feel good, attractive, smart...
In many ways it is like an adrenaline-like drug. We get “hooked” on it.
Ask yourself, what would happen if you slowed down? Would your life and work fall apart? What would become of you? With insight mixed with awareness and willingness, we can set an intention grounded in a deep knowing that there is more to life. That firm intention will lead to actions that can progressively reverse the overactive mind.
There are a few things needed in conquering our overactive mind, one is creating an environment that will support this intention. Take a good look at the countless distractions & stimulation in everyday life. The multitude of social media outlets, surface relationships & a compulsive relationship to our electronic devices. How can you start to minimize these? Creating a favorable surrounding for this shift is essential.
Another is working on the inside. We must learn how to calm our mind and develop inner stillness. This requires energy and effort through meditation. A learning of how to practice inner stillness in both a regular daily sitting practice and while you are out and about in your daily life.
This is a skill. Like any other skill it must be learned and cultivated over extended periods of time with precise instructions and proper techniques. Meditation is more than closing your eyes and calming down. As this is a start, it's only a temporary relaxation, not a sustained change in your mind set. We are looking to go deeper than relaxing our mind, we are looking to transform it.
Meditation is a process of gaining an understanding of the workings of the mind and re-establishing its stillness. We know what it feels like to be "hectic" both inside and outside. When meditating correctly, you will learn how to maintain an inner calm while working effectively in a complex world. It's a calm collective inside co-existing with the ever complex outside.
4. Integrating the meditative mind with your daily life.
What's the point of putting effort into sitting still and calming the mind if as soon as you get up, you are back to the hyperactive "monkey mind". That's just a waste of time and totally defeats the point.
If you want a temporary relaxation, you would get a massage. The purpose is to remain calm inside while being fully active outside. So start your daily meditation practice in the space your created and then take that same state of calm and weave it into your daily life. See if you can start to feel this in many layers, even as you think, listen, speak and act. We call mediation a "practice" because that's what it is. It's a way of life; it's you practicing, being conscious & aware; it's practicing being the best version of you each day.
5. LASTLY, Have Compassion: When You Fall Down, Get Up
We are all human. When infants learn to walk, they fall down. When they fall, they do not over analyze or tell themselves they have failed. They just get up and start again. This is the same, when we fall off of practice, get up and start again.
It's always great to have Teachers, Mentors, and Support.
Find the best teacher that you can. And, if possible, practice and learn in community.
Your life can flourish if you choose... but only YOU can make that decision. You are the decider, decide wisely.
❤ I know I'm working on it ❤