One of the most important things you can do to bring yourself peace of mind is to learn how to take care of your mind.
As Jill Bolte Taylor says in her book, My Stroke of Insight, “Peace is only a thought away and all we have to do to access it is silence the voice of our dominating mind.”
How can you do this? Working with your mind does take perseverance, patience, courage and focus. It’s important to approach your mind gently and compassionately.
The left hemisphere of your brain is made to think – that’s it job. It is designed to describe, define, categorize and communicate about everything. Your mind is speaking to you all of the time – there is a constant “brain chatter” going on. Sometimes your thoughts are uplifting; however, a lot of the time you get caught in endless loops of negative thoughts.
In addition to the left hemisphere there is a right hemisphere, where you experience deep inner peace, joy, unity consciousness, compassion and present moment awareness.
However, most of us have a tendency to be lopsided, living mostly in our left hemisphere.
So how can you balance things out and bring forth more of your right hemisphere?
The more conscious attention you pay to those qualities of your mind you want to bring forth the more they will manifest. It’s helpful to know that your thoughts are nothing more than electrical impulses that rise up out of silence and dissolve into silence. What you must do is learn to observe your thoughts with nonjudgmental awareness.
Here are some ways to take care of your mind:
· Talk to your mind when it’s caught in endless negative loops of thinking – you can say: “Please stop! I am no longer interested in hearing this.” or “Enough already give me a break!” (Or you can come up with your own phrase.)
· Give the mind “whine time” – set aside 15-30 minutes where you let your mind go and whine, and when the time is over inform your mind that it’s whining time is over.
· Practice inquiry into your troublesome thoughts so that they can let go of you. You can ask yourself: “Do I know this thought is absolutely true?”, “What triggered my thoughts?”, “Are these thoughts part of a pattern?”
· Practice coming into the present moment (see blog on The Power of the Present Moment) – It’s in the present that you let go of the past and future and experience peace in the now.
· Create a mantra for yourself and come back to it again and again throughout the day. Examples: “In this moment I reclaim my joy.”, “I am loved and loveable.”, “Peace.”, “Love.”
· Breathe deeply – the breath connects the body, mind and spirit and helps the mind slow down and gives you an opening to reflect and bring forth your best self.
· Meditate and practice stepping back, watching your thoughts come and go like clouds in the sky with nonjudgmental awareness.
· Practice Gratitude (Read blog on The Practice of Gratitude)
Rather than letting your mind run rampant leaving you feeling victimized, try one of these practices to cultivate peace of mind. The more you practice the more peace you will have.
Your mind can be your friend or your adversary; it’s up to you to nurture it so that it becomes your friend and uplifts you and those around you.
What are your favorite practices to bring peace to your mind and uplift your day?
Living consciously is a lifestyle, a skill, an art. It is not something you do just once. Rather, it’s a habit that you can form for the rest of your life; however, it is not something you can change overnight.
Learning to live from the inside out as Carl Rogers spoke about has been an aim of mine for the last 30+ years. I find as I am more able to live consciously I feel happier, more in the moment, filled with gratitude, in tune with myself, connecting more fully with others and in harmony with nature.
Some key guidelines that I work with in Living Consciously Now are:
1. I am the only one who I can change
2. I attract what I focus on
3. I find doorways out of obstacles
4. Remember: Pause, Breathe, Listen, and then Act
5. The present moment is all that I have
6. I spend time in solitude
7. I spend time in self-reflection and contemplation
- Identify self-limiting beliefs and replace them by affirmations to live by
- Take responsibility—blame does not have a place in my life
- Identify and drop my stories
8. I am conscious of where I put my energy
9. I accept what is
10. I am open to learning from everything that comes my way
Conscious means Aware—being mentally awake or alert, known or felt by one’s inner self, done with awareness or purpose. This capacity for self awareness is what differentiates us from all other living beings and things.
We are able to tap into the state of awareness through solitude, pausing and deep breathing, self-reflection and meditation, to name a few.
It is so easy to get caught up in the drama of our lives or that of others and live on autopilot. When we are on autopilot we are buffeted along and often feel like a victim experiencing a lot of pain and sometimes hopelessness.
When we are out of alignment, suffering and in pain, we need to be in tune with the inner message that something needs to shift. What helps me in these times is asking the suffering and pain: What do you have to teach me? I also ask myself: What are the stories I am running in my head?
My experience has been that as I step out of the drama, and the stories I’ve created about my life and that of others, I am able to see more clearly, listen better, work through my feelings, let go, shift my attitude and experience the Now, where there is freedom, choice and awareness.
It is not easy to change our lives; break out of our routines. It takes willful effort, energy and constant vigilance.
Learning from everything and everyone in your life and being fully present in each moment is part of Living Consciously Now.
In what ways do you live consciously?
Do you want to live more consciously and experience being in alignment with your higher purpose?
Sign up for a free coaching session by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be happy to set up an appointment with you.
Our lives are made up of stories. It is natural for our minds to want to make sense of things by creating stories. Stories help us remember, understand, explain, and project into the future. The problem comes when we start believing and identifying with our stories. We believe the thoughts and feelings we create, and by repeating them over and over again we become stuck. Our past stories bring up our anger and depression. Our future stories trigger our fears and anxieties.
One way out of this predicament is to learn not to believe everything we think and feel. To realize that our stories are not real and that we can let them go. We’ve made up these stories through our thoughts and emotions. Remembering that thoughts and emotions are like clouds in the sky—they come and go and are not what is real, thus our stories aren’t real either.
An example of a constructed thought and accompanying emotion which has become a story is of a woman who recently lost her job. Even though she has a cushion of six months financial security and is being interviewed for several positions, she’s convinced herself that she is going to go broke, lose her home and have nowhere to live. This “story” is accompanied by fear and anxiety. These emotions affect her daily mood, ability to sleep and relationships with others.
As we come to learn and experience that we are not our believed thoughts and feelings, a greater space opens up within us. When this happens, we have the experience of being in the present moment, which is all we actually have. This space is not ruled by our stories. One way to experience that we are not our thoughts and feelings is through meditation and mindfulness, where we learn to step back and witness our thoughts arising and dissolving—seeing them as our mental constructs.
“Our stories of the past shape our experiences of the present. The primary value of a story is how it helps us create the world we live in.” (Tantra Illuminated)
My older son, Christopher, who wrote Tantra Illuminated, is the one who brought home to me how my stories about the future in relation to a family member were bringing me fear and anxiety. With his gentle feedback I saw how I was creating a story about a possible future that did not exist. As I dropped the story my fear and anxiety disappeared. I was left in the present moment with my breath and a feeling of peace. When I find the stories wanting to come back into my awareness, I remember Chris’s reminder, “Mum, there you go with your story—remember it is not real,” and I drop it and return to my breath and a state of calm.
Self inquiry is a very helpful process when we want to learn from our stories and let go of them.
Byron Katie’s “The Work” (http://www.thework.com) is an excellent way to do this.
I love her 4 Questions to ask about a story:
1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know it’s true?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?
It’s worth taking the time to examine your stories, especially the one’s that come up over and over again and keep you stuck whether they are about the past or the future. The more we let go of our stories the more we learn and grow and come into the present moment. In the present moment we feel our heart, experience the richness of silence, and enjoy the clarity of knowing what our next best step is.
What are your stories that are not serving you?
If you’d like to explore how to examine and let go of your story or stories please sign up for a free coaching session here on my website or email me at email@example.com .
“Nothing can drain our life-force energy faster and more effectively than a well-spun story that is not in alignment with reality.” Tantra Illuminated
When we least think that we can take a time out, a pause, these are the times that we need it the most.
Why Pause? What are the benefits?
· Allows us to reflect and ask ourselves am I going in the direction I want to be going? Am I being the person I want to be? Am I focusing on what is important to me?
· Gives us the opportunity to take a deep breath smell the roses, shift our state, bring our blood pressure down, be still and in the moment
· Gives us a moment to consider the blessings in our lives and what we are grateful for increasing our sense of well being.
· Allows us to really listen to ourselves and others
· Reconnects us with the inner silence and stillness, our true nature, and from here we can be who we truly are.
Maria Shriver when speaking to a college graduating class said: “Pause and check in with yourself and spend a moment there. Feel your strength and you vulnerability. Acknowledge your goodness, and don’t be afraid of it. Look at your darkness and work to understand it, so you’ll have the power to choose who you’ll be in the world.”
Pausing ensures that our next move is the one we want to make.
It improves our ability to make the best decisions and to be the best that we can be.
Pausing keeps us in touch with ourselves so we know better how to take care of ourselves and others.
It allows us to enjoy each moment savoring it fully.
By pausing life won’t pass us by in a blur and we are left wondering where did time go; instead, we appreciate each moment, we can hear our inner guidance, and live the life we want to live.
Lately it seems that I’ve been hearing so much sad and tragic news: Friends being diagnosed with cancer, other friends having cancer metastasize, an elder friend reaching the end of his life, and a family member having a difficult time withdrawing and refusing help. And of course there is all the devastation from the storm Sandy. With all of this swirling around, I could feel myself getting a heavy feeling as I felt the grief of it all. I did allow the tears to come and I sent my specific prayers to each person. I then knew I needed to get outside and go for a walk.
I felt comforted by their return, knowing they’ve followed their inner promptings to once again make their winter home here.
As I continued walking I remembered to deep breathe. As I inhaled I imagined bringing inside the peaceful energy of nature, and then I exhaled letting go of the sadness I was holding. My spirit began to lift, and I could feel the steady support of nature. I then connected through my breath with a steady place inside me. As I came close to the end of my walk, I came across a beautiful heart made up of flowers displayed on a tree trunk. I could feel the love someone put into its creation and how they were sharing this love with all of us who passed by.
On contemplating this beautiful heart, I remembered how one of the best things I can do when I feel overcome by sadness is to find ways to give to others. I began to look for ways to share acts of kindness: smiling as I greet people, helping with the door, visiting someone who can’t get out easily, inviting people to Thanksgiving who have no place else to go. All of this lifts my spirit.
I also remembered my favorite practice of coming into the present moment where I accept what is in the present. (See earlier blog on What is the power of the present moment) Yes, I feel the sadness and I see the cycles of life and its impermanence. I breathe into this and let go of my resistance to being present. The tears flow and so does the love. I feel deeply connected to myself and a feeling of ease and acceptance comes over me as I am fully present right now, not caught by the past or the future.
The external circumstances haven’t changed. My friends still have cancer and my family member is still struggling. What I now have to give is my love, remembering that offering my good state is one of the best things I can offer to others.
I am so grateful for all of these tools I’ve learned through the years to shift my state and bring more love into the world.
When it comes to self care there is no one who is going to do it for you.
You are the one in charge of your physical, emotional and spiritual well being.
Caring for ourselves doesn’t come naturally. We are not taught to focus on ourselves and learn and understand what our needs are so we can function optimally and feel happy. It usually takes a health crisis to bring it home that we need to slow down, stop, reassess and reset our priorities which includes self care.
The basics of self care are
- eating healthily,
- getting at least 7 hours of sleep and
At its basis our body is energy. We take in energy, use energy, and expend energy. The body is always working to maintain homeostasis, a sense of balance. We need to be cognizant of how much energy is coming in and going out.
When we get involved in our all consuming working day we have a tendency to override the signals our body sends us to slow down and take a pause and replenish our energy. A friend recently said she realized at work that her mantra had become “hurry, hurry, hurry, worry, hurry, worry”. It was at that point that she remembered to stop and take a deep breath. This shifted her out of her worry and hurry state.
What are the signals your body is sending you that you override and ignore? What is your self talk like?
The demands of work our exceeding our capacity and doing more, faster is not the answer. What research is finding is that we need periods of focused work with pauses in our day. Working and pausing actually increases our efficiency and feeling of self satisfaction.
How can I do this? I am already running and don’t have a moment to stop!
STOP for 1 minute to do nothing but BREATHE! This is one of the simplest and easiest things you can do to take care of yourself and restore your energy and focus.
Push away from your desk and computer
Sit upright rolling your shoulders back and down creating space in your chest
Put your hand on your stomach (below your ribs)
Inhale through your nose to the count of 3
Exhale through your mouth to the count of 6
Notice your hand rising on the inhale and going down on the exhale
Repeat this for one minute – if you feel like you are getting dizzy slow the breathing down and go back to your normal way of breathing.
As you breathe in and out keep focused on your breath.
If you notice that your mind is caught up with thinking adapt an “Oh well” attitude and let the thoughts go. Bring yourself back to your breath.
It is your breath that connects your body, mind and spirit.
Start small with 1 minute a day and increase it slowly up to one minute every hour.
This one minute mini breathing exercise is the simplest way to start on the road to self care.
How can I remember to stop and breathe?
- · Put a bright colored post-it note on your computer that reads BREATHE
- · Create a screen saver that say BREATHE
- · Carry a smooth pretty stone or marble with you or have it on your desk. Associate it with Breathing- every time you see it or touch it BREATHE
- · Make a commitment to a buddy that you will stop for 1 minute to breathe during your work day. Check-in with each other to see how you’re doing.
What else can I do that’s easy?
1. Take a hot bath- light candles and relax
2. Get a massage
3. Sit quietly listening to your favorite music
4. Go for a 5 minute walk outside in nature
5. Write down 3-5 things you feel grateful for
6. Do 5 minutes of hatha yoga or stretching
7. Breath in lavender oil
Promise yourself that you will start today to begin the practice of self care. If you are already doing some self care look at how you can increase it.
I know you can do it and you will be all the better for it! You will become more efficient, feel more of a sense of satisfaction and your feeling of well being will increase.
Let me know how this works for you.
I wish for you a greater connection with you relaxed self as you breathe in the energy of the universe and as you breathe out the energy of the universe.