If you’re anything like me, your head is always full of thoughts and you struggle to have a clear mind. Whether it’s when you’re in bed trying to sleep while a constant stream of thoughts flow through your mind or you continuously have random thoughts throughout the day. Nothing you do seems to stop the thoughts. Everyone worries sometimes. However, if you find your mind is on overdrive all the time, you may need to find ways to calm it down.
Here are a couple of things I do to calm my mind.
The first is real simple… focus on your breathing. This can be done laying down, standing or sitting and done at any time of the day, even at work. All you have to do is focus on nothing but your breath. First, focus your attention on your breathing by placing your hand over your stomach. Take slow deep breaths, feel the air as it slowly enters in through the nose and allow your stomach to rise as you inhale and then exhale allowing your stomach to fall and feel the breath as it leaves your mouth. Focus on the sound of your breathing, the air moving in through your nose and out of your mouth, and feel your stomach rise and fall. The breathing shouldn’t be irregular, forced, or held for too long, it should feel natural, calm and relaxing. If you are focusing completely on your breathing you should notice how still, calm and quiet your mind is. You can do this exercise for a few minutes at any time during the day or if you’ve got 10 to 15 minutes spare then I suggest you lie down, get in a comfortable position and enjoy the calming effects of this breathing exercise.
Another simple way to calm our mind is to repeat the same words over and over again. Start by focusing on your breathing as above and then say the following words, slowly and out loud: peace, calm, relaxation - repeat over and over again until you are able to block out your thoughts and calm your mind. If those words don’t work for you choose words that are more meaningful or effective, just stick with positive, calming words.
My favourite way to calm my mind is engaging all my senses. It’s best if you can find a peaceful place out in nature, however it’s still great inside.
If you’re doing this outside pick a suitable place, one that is soothing and calming… a quiet beach or lake, or in the park or a beautiful garden. You don’t want to near a busy freeway or in a noisy place with lots of people as this won’t work. I like to begin by focusing on my breath for a few moments and then start focusing on all my senses: What do you see? Focus on the calmness of the water or the trees swaying in the breeze. What do you feel? Do you feel the sunlight warming your skin or is there a cool breeze. What can you hear? Can you hear the waves crashing on the shore or the birds singing in the trees. What do you smell? The fresh saltines of the ocean or the sweet aromas of the flowers. Spend a few minutes on each sense. If you find your mind wandering at any time, gently bring your attention back to the sensation you’re experiencing.
If you’re unable to do this out in nature then try inside, although you will want to create the right environment. That includes sight, smells, sounds and air temperature. For sounds I use a few mobile apps with mediation music and nature sounds. There’s plenty of free ones around, so just find one that works for you, otherwise if you have some calming music that would be fine. I also burn aromatherapy oils as it serves two purposes for me, first is to focus on a pleasant aroma and second is for sight. Whether you believe in the healing properties of aromatherapy oils is irrelevant, I simply choose oils that are appealing to my sense of smell not for their healing properties, so if you are going to use aromatherapy oils I suggest finding ones that appeal to your sense of smell. So next step is to get in a comfortable, quiet room make sure it’s not too hot or cold, if you can open a window for a nice breeze to engage touch. If you have a pleasant view outside sit in front of the window or on the balcony, otherwise if you’re a visual person you could try closing your eyes and imagine a happy place or somewhere you feel comfortable and relaxed. As I’m not a good visual person I use a pleasant view outside or my oil burner, watching the flame of the candle and the vapours from the burner. So once you’ve created your environment and get in a comfortable position the process begins, focus on your breathing for a few moments first and then work through sight, sounds, smells, touch. Again spend a few minutes on each sensation. You could do this for as little as 5 minutes or for hours if you like, just take more time on each sense or move through them over and over again.
These are great techniques to get you started in meditation and reap the benefits that a clear mind can bring to your well-being.