Learning How to Clean Up Your Mind
Learning this skill helps you free yourself from self-destructive compulsions.
Discover the art of mental self-control.
Sometimes our minds become overheated!
We all recognize the value in taking care of our bodies. We cleanse, feed, and clothe them; and we provide for adequate shelter; and we are at least aware of the need for and value of regular exercise to our health and well-being. Whenever our body gets sick, we try to figure out what went wrong and get something to fix it, if possible.
Rarely do we take time to attend to our minds. Everything is mind-made, yet we frequently take our minds totally for granted. Mind-made means that everything (our experience of life) is MADE in our minds. Our thoughts occur in response to outer and inner events. First, there is the event—then there occurs instantaneously our REACTION to it.
Our reaction is based on our FILTERS, which are our opinions, beliefs, evaluations, conclusions. The feeling tone that we experience is sculpted by our inner views—really made in our minds!
Our thoughts over time form patterns of thinking or habits of mental reactions. Examples are thoughts of joy and contentment, love, compassion or happiness or perhaps impatience, pessimism, sadness or cravings.
Our response to what happens in our world starts in our mind—with our thoughts—and is expressed in our actions. See the Various Meditation section on: Mind is the Source of Happiness and Pain and The Nature of Mind: What is it? Where is it? Also, Make Your Mind An Ocean.
The first thing that we need to do with our minds is to “clean them up!” Just like our houses, if we don’t occasionally take time to organize our things and throw things out that are no longer needed, over time our minds become very cluttered.
What mind has put in mind, only mind can clean out. The more we practice thinking in a certain way, the more habitual that way of thinking becomes. It feels normal and natural—it becomes a habit of mind.
Meditation allows us to notice the content of the thoughts floating through our minds. During meditation we learn to drop—from the mind—what we do not want to keep.
· Just drop the inner dialog or story—that is, we perhaps focus on the breath coming in and going out, and when we lose our focus on the breath, we just immediately come back when we catch ourselves lost in fantasy, planning the future or worrying about the past—that is, we just let go of the story line—the content of the thoughts.
· We can also label thoughts—like thinking, remembering, worrying, and planning.
We just step back and look at them. When thoughts arise, we just gently observe them. We practice just noticing them, trying not to judge them.
This process takes lots of repetition, since for most of us our minds are undisciplined. Our thoughts wander off in all directions—compulsive planning, worrying, fantasies about many things. We have to train our minds to STOP…to drop the content of our thoughts—and to come back to the present moment. It takes bringing our mind back again and again to the object of meditation (such as the breath, a word, a sound, or even walking with awareness).
Meditation is really like doing push-ups or weight training for the mind—it gives the mind muscle to perform the valuable skill to do what you want it to do—rather than always being carried along by out-of-control thoughts. Mental strength comes from working against the resistance of undisciplined thoughts—until we finally gain enough mental potency to stop our train of thoughts mid-thought. We can then direct our minds where we want them to go, rather than going wherever they take us!
· Through the practice of abiding in a calmer state—we cease the torrent of chattering thoughts. Over time we can achieve a serenely settled state of mind. Ah…
On a personal note: I take time every day to meditate. I’ve discovered that for my best emotional health, that it is most effective if also make time for a meditation retreat that lasts from 2-7 days about every 3 months. What I have discovered is that I become more and more reactive to the world around me. I start to believe my interpretations and views and notice that my state of inner peace and calm diminishes step by step…gradually…and a retreat helps me “reboot” my inner computer, provides perspective about life’s adventures and challenges, and helps me to restore my sense of inner calm and well being. At the bottom of the Meditation section of my site it lists many retreat centers and meditation resources. The resources also discuss various ways to meditate and share its benefits.
Discover other ideas at:
- Cultivate Your Spiritual Well-Being!
- Spiritual Hunger & Malaise: Why Do We Starve & How Can We Nourish Ourselves?
- Celebrate Personal Quiet Time—Spiritual Quiet time.
- Relax, Observe, and Allow
- Emotional—Spiritual Tune-up
- Be a Gardener to Your Own Mind
- How to Develop a Loving, Self-Nurturing, Inner Voice For You!
- Make Your Mind an Ocean: Become Your Own Therapist!
- Healthy Reasons To Eat and Self-Destructive Reasons To Eat,
- Horse of Habit Story
- Notice The Web of Existence: Patterns, patterns everywhere. Not a moment’s peace.
- Mindfulness Resources by Donald Altman: http://www.mindfulpractices.com/Resources%20Links.html
- Mindfulness In Daily Life (tracywebb255.wordpress.com)
- Handling Intrusive Thoughts while Meditating (psychcentral.com)
- Meditate Throughout Your Busy Day in 3 Not-So-Calm Places (massageenvy.com)