It’s Possible to Quiet the Mind:  Here’s How to Do It

It’s Possible to Quiet the Mind: Here’s How to Do It

“A quiet mind is focused on the task at hand.  It is calm and helps us to appreciate our lives from peaceful moment to peaceful moment.  With a quiet mind, we are happier people overall.” -Diane Webb

 

It was an early morning and I was a fatigued, busy, working mom.  The sun was not up yet, but my six-month-old son and I were.  He was wide awake, and I was trailing behind in a sleepy stupor.  All I could think about was coffee.  The smell, the creamy taste, and the heavenly shot of energy that would come from that dreamy cup.  I looked down, at to my dismay I was scooping my infant’s formula in the coffee filter instead of coffee grinds! 

 

This made me laugh and jolted me awake a little more.  It was a human moment for a mom that was trying to be super-human.  Whether you are a parent, a working parent, a working person, or simply a fellow human being this scenario is all too familiar to you as well.  I’m sure that at some point you have found yourself doing something mindless that left you feeling confused and maybe even embarrassed- such as walk into a room with purpose only to forget why you were there, or forgetting a ‘special place’ that you put an item you didn’t want to misplace. 

 

These moments happen to us humans when we have too many thoughts running in our minds at once.  This is a mindless state of being that creates tension, anxiety, confusion and irritability.  It’s a common issue among all of us, but something we are not stuck with.  If we approach our thoughts in a different way, we can reduce all of the running mindlessness that occurs in our minds and achieve a quiet, peaceful state of mind.

 

A quiet mind is focused on the task at hand.  It is calm and helps us to appreciate our lives from peaceful moment to peaceful moment.  With a quiet mind, we are happier people overall.

 

Some people reading this might only view a quiet mind as a lovely thought, but not a realistic goal.  This misconception could not be farther from the truth.  Running thoughts and mindlessness may be a given of human nature, but it is something that we can improve upon with consistent effort over time. 

 

To learn how to quiet your busy mind, try these strategies:

 

  1. Adopt a different perspective on your thoughts.  See yourself as an observer of your thoughts as opposed to the thoughts being an extension of you are:  It is extremely important that you understand that your thoughts are not you, they are separate from you.  Everyone has hundreds of mindless thoughts throughout the day.  Adopting a perspective as a neutral observer of your thoughts, will help you to navigate through the maze of mindlessness when running thoughts creep up.  As an observer, you can choose what you pay attention to, and what you want to follow up on.  You will learn that every thought does not need attention or action.  This will give you the ability to let thoughts come go out of your mind peacefully.

 

  1. Do not give yourself unreasonable expectations.  Aim for only one or two minutes of a quiet mind at a time:  In the beginning, it will be extremely difficult to quiet down your mind.  After years or even decades of an unfettered mind, you may find it extremely difficult to let thoughts come and go without attaching values or emotions to them.  Reducing mental chatter is a skill that you develop over time.  In the beginning, it is best to aim for one or two minutes of a quiet mind.  With consistent practice, you can increase your goal a little at a time until you are able to create a lifestyle of mindfulness.  As the famous Chinese proverb goes, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

 

  1. When you are in the middle of a task, try to put all of your attention to it:  Set your sights on being really be present in all parts of your life, including seemingly mundane tasks.  Practice quieting the mind during routine tasks.  For example, when you are washing the dishes you can use this opportunity to tune in and reduce mental chatter. Instead of running a to-do list in your mind, tune in to being fully present for the task at hand whether it’s washing the dishes, taking a walk, or playing with your children.  Use these moments of being fully present to practice quieting the mind so that you can use this skill in more challenging or stressful conditions as well. 

 

  1. Pay attention to your sensory experiences:  When we focus on our sensory experiences (what we see, hear, touch, taste and smell) we are less ‘in our heads’ and more in the present moment.  To help yourself reduce mental chatter, focus attention to those sensory experiences that surround you.  What do you feel in your body?  Savor the flavor and warm temperature of a cup of tea.  Look out the window and focus on the colors you see.  These practices are simple, but in the practice of them you learn how to redirect your attention away from mental chatter and into a more peaceful state. 

 

This is not nearly an exhaustive list of ways to reduce mental chatter to achieve a quiet mind.  However, using these strategies you can get a jump-start on the peacefulness you seek.  As with all things that are worthwhile, the ability to quiet your mind will come in time with persistence and follow-through.  They are not strategies that you do once or twice and write off if they do not work.  They are strategies that need to be replicated over and over again to help us create the skill set necessary to reduce chatter and achieve peace.  I hope they help you live more fully in the present moments of your precious lives!

 

Guest Blog by: Diane Webb, LMHC.  Diane is a psychotherapist in upstate New York that specializes in anxiety reduction, post-traumatic stress disorder, overcoming depression, transpersonal therapy and achieving emotional peak performance. For more information and how to work with Diane, visit: The Peace Journal  Connect via Facebook Here: The Peace Journal Facebook

Fear Part 1: How to Conquer Paper Tigers

Fear Part 1: How to Conquer Paper Tigers

I’ve been putting off writing this blog because honestly I think I am a little afraid to write about fear.  I know – the irony.   It’s also been a busy time of year with all of the end-of-school activities for the kids. So it’s been hard to find the time necessary to write about such an important and deep topic.

But now, on a beautiful Saturday morning, with a thunderstorm brewing on the horizon, it’s time.

Thunderstorms are such an apt metaphor for fear.  They loom…They are impending… and then they BOOM & CRACK & GUSH!  But, in general, if one takes proper precautions they are not dangerous. They will not hurt us.  In fact, I love thunderstorms. That’s not to say that I don’t have a healthy fear of them – especially if I’m driving.  But again, if I’m prepared, I take caution, and yes, if I’m brave, I can weather even a ferocious thunderstorm (even the emotional kind 😉

(more…)

BEING BOLD ABOUT BODY IMAGE

BEING BOLD ABOUT BODY IMAGE

For many of us it is not easy to be bold about our bodies! We are constantly bombarded with media images telling us why being anything but tall and thin (but, not too tall if you’re a woman! Unless you’re a model) is unattractive, unappealing and unhealthy!

 

And it’s no wonder, because all of that shaming imagery works! According to market research reported in U.S. News and World Reports Americans spend upwards of $60 billion annually on weight loss alone! And that does not include medical intervention, such as bariatric surgery, liposuction, cool-sculpting, etc.  We drink up the shame and open our wallets to the diet-industrial complex more than any other industry besides beer ($83 billion) and lottery tickets ($69 billion)!

(more…)

COMING OUT OF THE BODY IMAGE CLOSE

COMING OUT OF THE BODY IMAGE CLOSE

Baby Got Back!

~ Anonymous guys on the beach

The inspiration for today’s blog came from a moment this morning when I looked in the mirror and thought to myself, “Wow! My boobs are big!” (Okay, really they’re not that big… but for me, they are). Accepting my body as it is has been a HUGE challenge for me! So this was an interesting thought to cross my mind. I actually thought something nice about my body.

I have a Pinterest board dedicated to “Being Brave About Body Image.”  I repost other’s blogs about body image and talk a lot about how OTHER people are being so brave about body image.  But to date, I have not told my own story. So now is the time:

Back to my big boobs… I recently went on a bra-buying spree. It is VERY HOT here in The South during the summer!!!! And don’t even get me started on the humidity! So my cute, but cheap Target bras were just not holding up well in any way, shape, or form in the heat. So I decided to go buy some quality bras. It just so happened that I put one of those bras on today with a fairly tight fitting white T-shirt and then happened to glance in the mirror – what a difference a good bra makes! Thank you Soma Intimates (& no this is not an affiliate marketing kudo).

I thought to myself, “for the first time in my life I feel like I’m proportionate.”  You see, I’ve always been heavy on the bottom and fairly flat chested.  Even when I was twenty years old, weighed 118 lbs, and had abs of steel, I still had a “bubble butt” and “thunder thighs.” And yet, I only wore a B cup. This was in the pre-Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez bubble butts are sexy days.  I HATED my butt and thighs!!  (more…)

Mindfulness & Sorrow: How to Allow Acceptance and Detachment Heal You

Mindfulness & Sorrow: How to Allow Acceptance and Detachment Heal You

“Suffering is one of the many possible responses to pain.”

                                                                        ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

The practice of mindfulness allows, even encourages,  the acceptance of feelings of sorrow. In the practice of mindfulness acceptance of negative feelings, whether physical or emotional, is actually a way of preventing ongoing suffering.

I started my meditation this morning with my mind inevitably flitting from one thing to the next. As is human nature, I was in my cognitive brain and thinking about one thing and another:  The post I just put out on social media with my cat enjoying his mindful moment in the flower pot to a recent conversation I was having with a friend about being let down by other people.

And that’s when it happened – the rapid descent into sorrow and frustration.  (more…)

Mindset Matters: Stop making excuses, get your stress under control and start living your happy, peaceful life

Mindset Matters: Stop making excuses, get your stress under control and start living your happy, peaceful life

It’s a very rainy Monday here in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina.  And honestly, having an upbeat mindset can be a challenge for me on these gray days!  Being from San Diego, California I am definitely a sunshine person.  Yet, I have learned to make a peaceful living day even if it’s gray.  I’m cuddled up in my bed, the fireplace is on, I have my fuzzy socks on and my kitty is dozing at my feet.  So I say, “let it rain because I feel warm and snuggy & peaceful!”

 

But, what about those days that are emotionally gray?  Are you rushing through life feeling like you are in a gray haze sometimes?  Can you find a way to feel peace and joy on those emotionally gray days? I know, sometimes that gray haze of stress just weighs us down.  Some days it’s all we can do to make it through each day.  I’ve been there! I know what it’s like to spend most of my moments wishing that each part of my day would just hurry up and happen so that I can get home and into bed.

 

THE GOOD NEWS

 

The good news is, you do not have to live that way!  You can get your stress under control and start living each moment as if you don’t want that moment to pass because you are enjoying it so much!

 

You CAN live a happy, peaceful life!

 

Again, I know because I have been there.  Here is the formula I use:

HAPPY DAYS = I embrace them with gratitude!

GRAY DAYS = I stay in each moment and detach from the overall feeling of the day.

And you can do this too!

You can live a peaceful, joy-filled life, in spite of the gray days!

 

BUT, YOU HAVE TO STOP MAKING EXCUSES!

 

Here are some of the top excuses I hear:

 

  • My job is so stressful that I can’t do anything about my stress.
  • My spouse/ partner makes me so unhappy I can’t do anything about my stress.
  • My kids’ schedule is so busy that I can’t do anything about my stress.
  • I am so busy that I can’t do anything about my stress.
  • I have health problems, and I don’t feel good, so I can’t do anything about my stress.

 

Here is what one of my favorite authors, Jack Canfield, has to say about those types of excuses:

  • You are 100% responsible for your life!
  • You can decide to make an excuse and live with your stress and unhappiness.
  • Or, you can adjust your response to life’s events and take responsibility for a different outcome.
  • Event + Response = OUTCOME

 

You are 100% responsible for your life! ~ Jack Canfield

 

On first read, this can sound very harsh. But, I promise you it’s not.  I’m not saying that very hard, challenging things don’t have an effect on us as human beings. I’m not saying that your job isn’t stressful, that your relationship isn’t hurting or that your kids’ schedules are not overwhelming. What I am saying is that through taking responsibility for yourself – how you think, how you care for yourself, what choices you make, HOW YOU RESPOND to life’s challenging events – you absolutely can have a peaceful, joy-filled life, irrespective of your circumstances!

At this point you may be asking: But, how do I do that Jen?

You need to figure that out for yourself, or even better, with a coach, friend or therapist!  It’s about YOU taking responsibility for YOU!  But, here are a few examples to go along with the “excuses” I mentioned above:

Excuse 1: “My job is so stressful…”

  • First, make a list of the things you like about your job.
    • Write out and say why you are grateful for these things.
  • Second, make a list of the things that are stressful about your job.
    • Problem-solve to find ways to alleviate the stress. Bring in a trusted friend, family member, coach or therapist to help you with this if you need.
  • If you just cannot find a way to solve the problems look for another job or way of making money – i.e. entrepreneurship, an online business, even driving for Uber.

 

Excuse 2: “My spouse/ partner makes me so unhappy…”

  • First, realize that you cannot control another person. You can only control yourself.
  • Second, work on yourself and your own happiness. You may be pleasantly surprised that when you change your way of being, your spouse starts to change as well.
  • Third, seek counseling!
  • Fourth, figure out what each of you needs in the relationship and then start filling those needs for your partner. Again, you may be surprised at how your partner will respond by filling your needs.
  • And while doing all of these things, communicate mindfully! Mindful communication makes all the difference.

 

Excuse 3: “My kids’ schedule is so busy…”

  • This one is easy! Give both yourself and your kids a break and unscheduled them!
    • Only allow them one sport or activity at a time.
    • If the travel team is eating your time, have your kids play club sports instead. They will survive!
  • If you are one of those parents who just won’t lessen your kids’ sports and activities, then at the very least, find a carpool.

 

Excuse 4: “I am so busy…”

 

Excuse 5: “I have health problems…”

  • This is definitely one of the more difficult situations. Poor health and chronic pain are very hard to live with. But, it can be done.
  • Know that you will need to live differently than you have in the past.
  • Take exceptionally good care of yourself, both physically and emotionally.
  • Ask for and be open to receiving help.
  • Be mindfully accepting of your new normal.
  • Find gratitude in the little things

 

THE BAD NEWS

The bad news is that if you don’t get your stress under control you are at risk of many stress-related diseases: heart disease; stroke; diabetes ; certain cancers;  thyroid conditions ; the list goes on and on!

BACK TO THE GOOD NEWS

You can take small steps to lower the level of chronic stress in your life.

You do not have to live with chronic stress or the dis-ease it brings.

Changing your mindset and giving up your excuses is the first step!

Stick with me! I have lots of tips, techniques, motivation, inspiration & encouragement for you!

Would you like some of that?

Love & Light Y’all!

Jen

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