“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the whole earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life. Don’t be attached to the future. Don’t worry about things you have to do. Don’t think about getting up or taking off to do anything. Don’t think about ‘departing.’” – Thich Nhat Hanh, ‘The Miracle of Mindfulness’
Our minds can be very noisy places. Even if you consider yourself to have quite a clear mind in general, I have no doubt that you will have experienced moments of clutter-mindedness! Have you ever struggled to focus on a single task because there are so many other things lingering in the back of your brain? Do you ever struggle with your confidence because your inner voice is pumping doubt into your present? Have you ever laid in bed at night, trying to sleep, but failing to do so with ease because your brain just wont switch off? Yes. I am sure you will recognise at least one of these experiences.
At the centre of meditation and the leading of a mindful life, is the ability to silence the excess noise clouding your ability to focus on the moment. Once you master the art of turning the volume right down on those superfluous thoughts, a deeper and more mindful connection to the self will you find!
Here are a few simple ways to exercise your ability to quieten your noisy mind.
Observe, notice, watch. If your head is feeling a little cluttered, take a moment to focus on the world around you. Detach yourself from your mind clutter and just focus on the reality in front of you. Notice the people, the environment, the sounds and the smells moving around you. Observe them without judgement, notice that you have observed them, and then let the thoughts leave you, sidestepping any desire to linger upon them. Return to your life after just 5 minutes of gentle observation and notice the enhanced clarity now present in your head.
2. Slow Down and Putting Your Mind to One Thing at A Time
But I don’t have time to slow down! Well, believe it or not, slowing down and focusing on taking care over everyday tasks has actually been proven to increase pace and productivity. Racing through tasks increases stress and the likelihood of sloppy work and making mistakes. By slowing down and focussing on one task at a time you eliminate worry about the other tasks on your mind and increase the quality and enjoyment of your work.
3. Evening Unplugging
These days it is very common to struggle with sleep, and we all know why that is, don’t we? Screens! Our interactions with our devices keep our brains functioning at an elevated rate. Be honest with yourself, are you fiddling with your phone right up until you try to sleep? Are you watching T.V just before bed time? Try this. I’m not saying ‘no’ to devices in the evening. But I do advise a little meditation between device use and bed. This could be candles and calming music. It could be a mindfulness meditation (why not try this one from Neil Seligman). Or you could be sitting and really enjoying a cup of herbal tea. Maybe a hot bath? I guarantee that one of these will go a long way to quieting your mind before bed.
Anytime. Anywhere. It is simple, portable and inconspicuous. So, if you are having a stressful or noisy moment during a busy day then just a minute or two of focussed breathing can make all the difference. It might be the very thing that separates you from keeping your head or you having a terrible day! Just stop for a moment. Close your eyes if you can, and focus only on your breath. Don’t tamper with your breathing or try to force it in any direction. Just notice the breath and let it take its own path. Before you know it, your breathing with have calmed and your heart rate stabilised.
Exercise not only releases those endorphins that are all the rage but it also removes all other distractions. When we exercise we tend to automatically focus on the task in hand. I can also personally vouch for the amazing effect working out can have on the removal of worry from any troubling situation you might have hanging over your head. Exercise is great head-space time. Try it when the noise next comes creeping back into your head.
By Chris Thomson
A good night’s sleep isn’t just about eliminating brain noise, there are many other things you can do to ensure quality slumber! Wellbeing: How to Sleep Well
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