Five steps to a quiet mind
As a coach working with people from all backgrounds and in all situations, I see time and time again that what we are all struggling with is our thinking. Whether our thoughts are of the past, or resisting the facts of the present or obsessing about the future, it is our thinking that we are experiencing and wanting to deal with.
What I have found in my work and my personal life is that when we stop considering, analysing and trusting our thoughts, we create a distance from them that allows us to not only leave them alone but allows them to move on without us having to get involved. When we get involved, we are actually hanging on to the thinking that feels overwhelming and noisy. When we take our focus off of unhelpful thoughts and refuse to engage with them, we allow space for new thoughts to come along that can help us move forwards.
We experience our thinking very physically via our senses which is what makes the experience of our thinking appear real and the reason we are so compelled to believe in it. But as science is showing us again and again, our senses cannot always be trusted so when our thoughts are reflected as feelings, it is not necessarily a good idea to believe in them. In fact, we can begin to notice our feelings as helpful signals that alert us to our state of mind in the moment.
When we recognise our emotions as a reflection of the state of our thinking in the moment, we come to see that a stressed mind results in a stressed emotional state. From this new awareness, it makes less sense to act from that space of stress and overwhelm than we may have previously believed. Our desire to escape from the feelings that we find distressing creates a desire to think our way out of the problem from our current mindset. Recognising our distressing feelings as a reflection of our distressed mindset leads to the understanding that stepping back from it will allow the thinking and therefore the feeling to pass. We are naturally designed to move on from unhealthy and unhappy thinking.
When we stop engaging with the thinking that has kept us trapped in an unhelpful mindset, our mind quietens down and we begin to experience clarity. A calm and quiet mind brings with it feelings of peace, hope and understanding. We begin to reflect on our situation and circumstances from a clearer perspective which allows us to tap into our psychological well-being and access helpful thinking.
So, what can we do to quieten our minds when we need to? Simply realise:
1. We are thinking beings. We all think all of the time and if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be alive.
2. Our experience in the moment is our thinking brought to life via our senses, making it feel real.
3. We can use our feelings and emotions as a guide to the state of our thinking in the moment.
4. Underneath the experience of our unhealthy thinking and doing exists psychological well-being.
5. We can tap into well-being by allowing our thoughts to quieten down and flow as they are designed to.
By reflecting on the connection between thoughts and feelings, we naturally start to allow our thoughts to settle down when we begin to experience anxiety, urgency and stress. Although before now these feelings have felt too real to ignore, once we understand that letting them go will allow a calmer state of mind to preside and guide us, it makes sense to stop engaging with unhelpful thoughts and acting on unhelpful feelings and instead see what new thinking and feeling arises in their place.
Once we stop engaging with unhelpful thinking and begin allowing our thoughts to flow, we'll experience more frequent moments of calm, peace and wellbeing throughout our day and although we will at times buy into frantic thinking, it will become second nature for us to step back from it, leave it alone and return to living from a quiet mind.
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