Are you finding it difficult to ease life’s chaotic pressures on your mind? Take a deep breath and just follow these six steps to a soothing mental symphony.
By Sanjay Gupta
We live in a noisy, chaotic world. Many might argue that it’s always been like this. Maybe. Perhaps we had the same basic notions of cacophony eons ago. But the prism of modern development has magnified the human noises to an unbearable extent.
The result: even when we shut ourselves indoors, far away from the madding crowd, we can still hear the echoes of that clamor in our mind. Echoes that refuse to go away. Echoes that cling to a mind desperately wanting to relax. Echoes that impede or interfere with the body’s natural tendency to remain in an easy, happy existence.
Tell me frankly, haven’t you been in situations when – even after you lie down – your mind continues to overflow with thoughts of care, worries of yesterdays, and noises from the daily rumble around you?
The dictum “A healthy mind in a healthy body” holds true in its inverse form as well. If you keep your mind in a poised, relaxed state, you are more likely to have a physically fit body. As modern research in psychosomatic medicine suggests, the condition of the mind directly or indirectly affects the body’s wellbeing.
So, how can you detox your mind? How can you drive out stress, commotion, conflicts and other detritus from the daily life and invite in a gentle sense of calmness and poise? Can you do it without retreating to a remote, secluded (and often, expensive) resort or spa? Hell, can you do it in your existing routine?
Don’t try and raise hell. Try, instead, these six simple tips for giving your mind the peace it’s been asking for.
1. Finish what you start: The mind is like a non-stop factory in which our words and thoughts are either woven into new fabric to clothe our personas or taken apart to be deposited on a growing pile of rags and tatters. Often, there are many unfinished strands that just lie about frayed in our mind, without finding their perfect-knit. A growing list of incomplete things can make you feel miserable and wanting. So go back to your to-do lists and keep them to a manageable minimum. If you know you can only do ten things rather than twenty-three, leave the unwanted thirteen out.
2. Make only the commitments you can keep: A businessman once gave this advice when starting up his son: “My son, never break a promise; but then, never make a promise!” Well, you’ll have to make commitments in your daily life: just be sure to make only those that you can keep. If you are firm in accepting only what you can do now, it will save you from the gnawing feelings of failed commitments later.
3. Exercise focused concentration: According to mind-training experts, one must pursue what one wants to achieve with “focused concentration.” Through constant practice, one can indeed train one’s mind to think about one thing at a time. This is what most meditative techniques also suggest: focusing the mind on one shape, sound, color, or any other object. The idea is to constantly train the mind on the job at hand. After sufficient practice, this ‘training’ should cease to be an effort and become second nature to you.
4. Forsake your regrets: We often don’t realize it, but we routinely carry a scary load of regrets at the back of our minds. If only we could do this! If only we had seen that coming! Our laundry list of regrets keeps getting longer and longer – without ever getting ample washing. Unbuckle your past lamentations and let them rinse down your memory drain one by one – and you’ll feel the same lightness and crispness that you do when you put on a freshly washed and sunned piece of garment.
5. Practice doing nothing: It is usually said that “an empty mind is the Devil’s workshop.” However, there’s an art to emptying the mind that yogis, rishis and monks have been practicing and preaching over the ages. An art that, instead of making your mind a playground for Satan, can make it a blessed abode of the gods.
Think about it: we are infused with a lifestyle that requires us to be always doing something or the other. If we were really programmed that way, there would be no need for sleep, isn’t it? By doing nothing, however, I don’t mean sitting idle or staring at the idiot box. What I mean is being free of your troubling, trivial and compulsive thoughts.
Choose a moment and place when you are just by yourself. Take a posture in which you are comfortable and let the whole world pass by you as if you were a spectator serenely yet effortlessly watching life’s little episodes. In such a state of nothingness, you can often feel the goddess of peace whispering gently in your mind.
6. Curb your craves: This one is not easy, especially because most people live to have more, get more or possess more. But if you can reduce the number of things you depend on or cut down your list of must-haves, you’ll also reduce the burden of relentlessly going after them. Pursue your ambitions or follow your dreams by all means, but don’t let them become your daily pester points. Set out to achieve big things that matter to you, but try and shun mere objects of desire that you constantly crave.
Like I said, it’s a bit difficult to achieve this balance between worthy objectives and petty longings – but it’s far from impossible. And indeed very tranquilizing. Just ask your mind.