In my previous post I shared my recent discovery of the 3 Principles of Understanding as a means of connecting to the core health that is innate in all of us. Today I’d like to share 5 ways to calm your mind that have proven successful for me and many others. I find it beneficial to vary my routine to prevent getting bored, which can lead to lack of motivation. The key is to create time and space for these activities, however it may best integrate into your daily life.
1. Meditate: This doesn’t have to involve anything formal, though a mantra is a very useful meditation tool. Really, any form of deep, rhythmical relaxation breathing from the diaphragm will do the trick. Make sure you can visualize (literally and figuratively) the outward expansion of your diaphragm on the inhalation and the opposite deflation of the diaphragm on the exhalation—like an accordion. You shouldn’t need a dedicated physical space for your meditation, but it certainly is helpful to have a quiet, comfortable spot. With practice, you will be able to effectively quiet your mind no matter where your body is.
2. Take a Nature Break: Get outside and breathe some fresh air for at least 20 minutes. I mean, really suck that stuff into your lungs and let it out slowly. I know it can be hard to motivate yourself—call a friend or family member if it helps (keep the conversation light and breezy or you’re defeating the purpose). For me, I get the greatest benefit from walking or biking in the woods or near water. I’m fortunate to live in an area with hundreds of acres of heavily-wooded county parkland within a stone’s throw. Be resourceful. Google nature trails and parks in your local area and try to break up your routine by going to different spots to keep it fresh. As with any of these activities, with practice, you’ll find it’s like a walk in the park.
3. Play or Listen to Music: This is one that many of us do subconsciously to relax as part of our social conditioning. If you don’t play an instrument but would like to incorporate one into your practice, I recommend getting a hand drum (some form of ethnic percussion like a Djembe or Dumbek). Remove any jewelry from your hands and arms, take several deep breaths and begin to slap, stroke, shake or beat. Try starting out at a slow tempo and tune-in to your center. It will dictate the pattern it needs you to play to synchronize your mind and body. Once you feel you have the hang of it, you can explore participating in a drum circle as an option.
You need not play an instrument at all. Most people appreciate the way just listening to relaxing music with eyes closed can induce a deep state of calm. Go online or to your favorite retail store and invest some time previewing what’s available in the “Relaxation” genre. There’s some truly wonderful stuff out there. Here’s a couple of sources to get you going: brucekurnow.com (requires iTunes) innerpeacemusic.com
4. Apply Shiatsu Self-Massage: If you’re unfamiliar with Shiatsu, very briefly, Shiatsu is an ancient Japanese healing method based on the pressure point and energy meridian philosophy of Chinese Acupuncture. Shiatsu helps to balance a persons energy flow, and strengthen the vital organs. It’s especially suitable for self-application and can be practiced literally anywhere. For example, there are specific pressure points on the bottom of the feet that correspond to tension. Applying the correct Shiatsu technique to these points causes a feeling of relaxation and calm that is often quite dramatic. If you haven’t already done so, give it a try. You can experience immediate results if done correctly.
5. Journal: The key to journalling in order to calm the mind is to write whatever comes into your mind—literally in stream-of-conscious fashion. I have found it ineffective and counter to the purpose when I try to analyze the content while I’m writing it. Amazingly, when I just let it flow onto the paper, I come away from the exercise with a profound feeling of ease and lightness. It’s as if I’ve transfered all the thoughts from my head to the paper, which, come to think of it, is essentially what the exercise entails. Get out your paper and pen, take a few deep breaths, connect with your right brain and just let it go until the words stop on their own.
That’s my list of top 5 ways to calm your mind and bring more light in to your daily life. I’d love to hear your thoughts and personal experiences related to the subject as well as suggestions to add to the list.
Remember, practice makes perfect—or at least perfect imperfection! It’s not about getting it right, it’s about getting and keeping it REAL. Until next time…