Much like everyone else in the World, I am always on (and off) of a health kick. One minute I am at the gym every day of the week and the next I can hardly remember where the gym is located. However, recently ‘A’ and I have been making strides to find a new lifestyle; one that includes working out consistently, eating better, and even a new way of spending our money (a budget post is on it’s way). Most of all, I am working hard at mentally recharging myself and finding a new and more positive way to think. In doing so I have come up with four exercises that help improve the mind.
:: STAY PRESENT ::
I figured we should start with the hardest practice and make our way through the list, sound good? Staying present is a challenge and I know that I am not the only person who thinks so. As humans, we are constantly worrying about the future and dwelling on the past. We make decisions based on what we think might happen or what may have happened to us before. This is natural and by no means should we punish ourselves because of it. Rather, we should start to acknowledge these moments and work to bring ourselves back to the present time.
Catching yourself as soon as you start to wander to the past or present is the most important step in staying present. You will naturally progress in and out of the moment, but bringing yourself back is where the impact lies. You want to remind yourself that what is happening, is happening now. Doing so will help you make clear decisions based on your current state of mind. This also allows us to release the feeling of clinging/holding onto prior feelings.
:: 10-MINUTE MEDITATION ::
For me, meditation is one practice that I have always wanted to master, but downright suck at. As I have mentioned many times before, I am a thinker and therefore, my mind is always racing with ideas, to-do lists, concerns, questions… well, you get the point. I am constantly spinning my wheels and the idea of taking any time at all to sit still and not think of anything gets me in a state of panic. I once tried meditating and literally sat there for 10 minutes thinking about how awful I am at not thinking.
I have done a slew of reading on meditation in my quest to master this phenomenon and there is endless material out there on the benefits that come with meditation. Everything from improving levels of grey matter in the brain to helping those suffering from disorders such as ADD. There is also a ton of encouragement out there because much like me, people struggle when it comes to the art of meditation. From what I have learned, it is important to just relax. Don’t get angry with the idea of meditation. When you feel yourself wandering into thought, just take a breath and start over. Practicing this will, over time, improve your ability to spend a few minutes a day with a truly clear mind.
:: GAME OF FIVES ::
When doing some research on mindfulness I came across the Game of Fives. This exercise is simple in that all it asks of you is to take notice of five things throughout your day that would normally go unnoticed or unappreciated. Seems easy, but think about how many times you do this now. Not very often, huh?
Acknowledging the small things sounds easy, but in a day full of stress, deadlines, kids, work, and life in general, it can be easily overlooked. While I am not expecting anyone to beat themselves up over this, I would expect that we can all do a better job at taking a few minutes to think of only five things we are grateful for. It does not matter what they are or when you think of them, as long as you do it. Pissed off that you have been sitting in traffic for 20 minutes? Look outside and be aware that there are worse things happening in the world. Sick and tired of dealing with the duds you work with? Step away from your desk and remind yourself of all the people who cannot find a job at all.
:: WRITE IT OUT ::
I recently bought a journal and while I feel like my high school self all over again, it also feels really rewarding to write out my thoughts. As a chronic over-thinker, I sometimes get heavy headed with thoughts and worries. Typically, I will just continue to store these thoughts in my head, but as with all things that build up over time, they tend to push me to a ‘melting point.’ Simply writing out my thoughts on paper releases some of this tension that I tend to carry around with me. It’s like sitting down with your best friend and talking over martinis…except it’s a lot cheaper.
I find that writing before I go to bed makes it easier to fall asleep with a peaceful mind, but you can also make your journal time when you wake up in the morning to get the day started right. Taking at least 10 minutes of your day to clear your head makes a world of difference.Pin It