We should exercise the mind just like we exercise the body. It’s become a popular belief that routines are highly important when going to the gym to train our bodies: the same thing needs to happen to our minds more often to get results. This falls in line with what I’ve written about how we live today in an endless wheel of work and obligations, where people don’t make time to stop, be still and to fill their minds with good, positive things.
There are certainly many ways to evolve mentally and emotionally. I’ll mention a few, which I’ve been attempting to practice more regularly.
Let It Rest
One of the best ways to quiet the mind is through meditation. Meditation is any activity that trains our awareness to get a healthy sense of perspective. It comes down to focusing on a particular object, thought, or activity, to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Although it may have different meanings to each one of us. For instance, I find it incredibly uncomfortable to meditate while sitting in the lotus position, so I lay down, most times with my legs up to help my circulatory issues.
Yoga, and other types of exercise are said to have the same effect as when you meditate. Running, for instance, gets me in the zone and I’m able to let go of any thoughts, maybe because of the repetitive movement that doesn’t require the effort that other sports do.
“With running, we call it being in the zone; with meditation it is the gap. In both, it’s that place where we are flowing through our experience. Our mind is calm, our body is relaxed, and our breath is effortless.” — Dimitra Panaritis on Chopra.com
“Reflective thinking turns experience into insight.” — John C. Maxwell
Reflecting is about asking questions to your mind as if you were someone completely neutral from the outside. It’s about setting your ego aside, accepting your primary emotions as valid, shifting your perspective, and eventually learning about your vicious thinking patterns that have become unconscious. It is the best way to master our busy minds.
It’s not an easy thing to do. We’re all human, we’re all struggling and trying to find a balance between what we feel, what we say and what we do. Some are closer to that balanced state than others. The point is showing up, consistently, like when we’re trying to lose weight and get ripped. The point is to do so with the mind.
When I judge people, or battle with negative feelings, I’m able to take a step back and question my preconceived thoughts and opinions. Why am I feeling this way? What makes me believe I am right? How would I react if I was going through what that person I’m judging is going through? What are my impulses telling me about this situation?
Food For Thought
It is crucial that the mind stays active. Whether it’s a good book, playing chess, memory games or learning a new language, these are all great ways to keep our brains healthy.
Although I come from a very different background, I love reading about psychology. I’ve recently been introduced to the wisdom of neuroscientist Andrew Huberman and I’ve been stuck on this Rich Roll podcast. This has given me so much insight on so many levels. That’s what I love about the internet: you never run out of things to learn.
I get that not all of us have the willingness, availability or desire to create things, but if you ever feel a tiny little voice calling for it, listen to it! There’s nothing more stimulating than being creative. The effects it has on the brain are more positive than negative.
There isn’t a rulebook to which we should blindly obey to become calmer, more grounded and more self aware human beings. Sometimes I work out and my mind gets in the right place, so I skip the guided meditation; sometimes I take a walk, I dance, I sing and that does it. What’s important is to exercise the mind like we do with our bodies.