I was heading to an appointment not long ago.
It was one of those rare days when I wasn't rushing to get somewhere on time.
As I eased my way into the busy waiting room, I noticed there was only a short line-up at reception. What a stroke of luck! I headed straight over to register.
After letting the receptionist know I'd arrived, I asked her how she was doing? I knew a little bit about her, I knew she was interested in running or jogging at one time. So I casually asked her if she had done any running lately?
She shared with me that she hadn't been running nor had she been to the gym lately. I remember the look on her face, she looked resigned and disappointed.
It's what happened next that I really want to share with you.
She told me she was tired of making resolutions and never managing to stick with them.
She said she was tired of having a gym membership but not making it to the gym as often as she'd like to.
She was tired of getting on the scales and discovering that she hadn't lost any weight - it wasn't so much the weight loss that mattered to her, it was more the overall 'feel good factor.'
She said she was tired of getting to the end of another year and realizing that nothing seemed to have changed in her life.
Then, she leaned in a little closer and said...
"I'm exhausted from doing battle with MYself all the time."
She was tired of not achieving things she wanted to do in her life and then feeling a sense of remorse about it.
Like feeling guilty after getting mad at her kids and then immediately judging herself for not spending enough time with them.
Or feeling guilty about having an extra glass of wine at night and not getting enough sleep.
She was constantly having to battle with herself, with her own thoughts and feelings. In essence with the voice in her head.
Maybe take a moment to reflect on what she said.
Does it seem familiar to you?
I know I can relate to what she said and I'm guessing you can too.
Thankfully, that voice in our head isn’t to do with schizophrenia or a sign of madness, it’s just our inner narrator. It's the voice that chases us out of bed, wanting stuff, judging stuff, setting expectations, planning, worrying, daydreaming...
Doesn't it seem sometimes that the battles we fight with ourselves can be the hardest ones?
Interestingly, when we meditate, we become more familiar with our inner narrator and more aware of how much of our day, we're thinking of thoughts from our past or future. And how often we get distracted and exhausted by our own thoughts.
I like to call it our mental talk. Some people call it our wandering minds or mental chatter. It's nothing new, we've been aware of it for a very long time. For instance, the historical figure, Buddha called it our monkey mind and said;
"Our own worst enemy cannot harm us as much as our unwise thoughts. And no one can help us as much as our own compassionate thoughts."
Regardless of whether they're pleasant or unpleasant, our wandering minds can create anxiety and stress. It's one of the reasons why we're reading more and more about mental health issues and why The World Health Organization has announced that depression is now the leading cause of illness.
When we're unaware of this non-stop conversation, it yanks us around.
It's the reason why we lose our temper and react to all kinds of situations.
When we practice meditation, we discover just how transient and impermanent our thoughts are. Or put another way, how quickly our thoughts come and go.
When you see in 'realtime' just how easily a fairly random thought can lead to an emotion, you begin to see how easy it is for a random thought to influence what kind of day you're going to have ie: a good day, or an off day!
Sometimes we're not even aware of the specific thought that triggered an emotion in us, that put us in that bad mood, or a good mood.
When we train our attention to pay attention to our thoughts and emotions, we begin to see how this all works and how many of our thoughts, feelings and sensations are actually interconnected.
I hope you're still with me, because I want to share some good news!
"No one has a perfectly peaceful, calm, serene mind."
First, we all do battle with ourselves from time to time and experience challenging, tiring, racing thoughts. Every one of us. No one has a perfectly peaceful, calm, serene mind 100% of the time, not even the most experienced zen masters and meditators.
"You don't have to get rid of your thoughts, or clear your mind."
Secondly, you don't have to change a single thing. You don't have to get rid of your thoughts, or clear your mind. You don't even have to try to 'get relaxed'. In fact, the last thing you want to do, is attempt to stop your inner chatter.
"The key is to choose with intention what you pay attention to."
The key is having some awareness of the voice in your head and then building your concentration power, which aids your ability to choose more intentionally what you pay attention to, as opposed to having your attention pulled in a thousand different directions.
Just imagine for a moment.
Imagine there was a way to become less agitated by the voice in your head and in doing so, it gave you access to more of your own potential and enabled you to create more positive change in your business and life.
To build stronger and lasting relationships.
Too feel happier within yourself.
To grow exponentially in your business and your life.
Well, today, I'm going to share three ways to work with a busy mind, so you can access more of these things.
For best results read on with an open, skeptical mind!
#1 It's not about emptying your head of thoughts, it's about getting curious.
The next time you become aware of any judging or annoying thoughts [TIP: it can be helpful to close your eyes in order to become aware of your thoughts] use a word like "interesting" to engage your curiosity. By engaging your curiosity, you may find you become less frustrated with your thoughts and you notice that your mind begins to settle.
#2 It's not about controlling your thoughts, it's about becoming more open to them.
The one thing you can control, is your attention and where you choose to place it. [TIP: it can be helpful to do some formal meditation practice like re-directing your attention to your breath, which helps strengthen equanimity & concentration]. While it takes practice, the idea is to be open to embracing the good and the bad equally. What does that mean, you ask? It basically means knowing that life is difficult and being OK with that.
#3 It's not about judging the voice in your head, it's about making friends with it.
When we do a meditation practice, like a breathing practice, we quickly discover how frequently our attention wanders away from our breath. In early stages of practice, you might find your attention wanders away or gets distracted by thoughts, after just a second! We do our best not to judge ourselves for getting distracted so easily, instead, we learn to forgive ourselves and in turn we strengthen our self-compassion and become more skilled at simply noticing our thoughts and letting them be in the background.
By the way, if you want to try this out for yourself, click on the image below & download my Ultimate Guide To Mindfulness At Work FREE training.
You will get:
An exclusive 5-day training guide that teaches you how to meditate anytime, anyplace.
A one-minute audio guided meditation free download.
The #1 strategy to calm your mind.
The five best times to meditate during your work day.
If you do nothing else after reading this post, I invite you to take a moment to become more aware of your thoughts today, trying not to judge them!
Then shift your attention to your breathing.