If one compares the days of our fathers to the world that we live in now, one of the most obvious difference is that today’s world is very stressful. We live in an era where everyone expects almost everything to be bigger-better-faster and such a lifestyle places unhealthy demands on individuals which can be overwhelming. When one is overwhelmed, the mind is racing and there is need to quiet your mind in order to function well with focus and clarity.
If you look around you today, you’ll notice that here are more illnesses now compare to say two to four decades ago. Most of these illnesses are either caused or aggravated by stress. Some of such illnesses include:
• Heart disease
• Depression, anxiety and moodiness
• Weight gain or loss
• Stomach and digestive problems
• Headaches and back pain
• Sleep problems
The human body is not designed to carry on functioning alongside stress (thank God!), if you carry on, sooner or later your body will force you to slow down. The sad thing is many of us carry until a major illness leaves them with no choice in the matter. You cannot compare yourself to a machine that’s designed to work round the clock with occasional servicing. Slow down and learn to quieten your mind!
In this article, I’d like to share four of my favourite ancient and proven effective methods you can use to quiet your mind and achieve inner peace. These techniques are highly valuable in assisting you to step away from the chaos of life for at least thirty minutes each day.
a) Practice breathing meditation. Breathing meditation is a simple and effective method for calming your mind. Start by finding a comfortable and quiet place where you can sit and observe your breath. With practice, you’ll be able to meditate longer periods or place your mind on your breath in any surroundings.
b) Develop single-pointed concentration. Train your mind to rest upon your object or subject of meditation; I personally use bible passages or positive affirmations. Note any distracting thoughts but decline to pursue them. Bring your mind back to your chosen object or subject.
c) Learn to visualize. Select images that promote happiness and serenity (it helps if you chose images around your object or subject of meditation). If you are going through a particular challenge, make an habit of visualizing a positive outcome and watch it unveil!
d) Focus on positive thoughts. If your meditation is part of a spiritual practice, you can follow the prayers taught in your tradition. Alternatively, you can soothe your mind by repeating any thought or quote that is meaningful for you.
2. Tap Into the Soothing Qualities of Water
a) Take a bath. Every culture all over the world has long appreciated the calming effects of water. A simple warm bath can soothe your nerves. Rest your head on a bath pillow and add some comforting scents like sandalwood or lavender. Turn the lights down low and play soft meaningful music.
b) Surround yourself with the sound of water. Eat your lunch by a park fountain or install a solar device in your own backyard. You can find recordings of waterfalls online or get a CD with aquatic effects that you can play anywhere you go.
3. Get Back to Nature
a) Go for a walk. In some eras, it was common for people to go on long retreats into the wilderness. Even a short break can do wonders to restore your peace of mind. Visit your local state park or take a quiet walk around your neighborhood. If you work indoors all week, use the weekend to explore scenic trails for biking and hiking.
b) Cultivate a garden. Gardening is a great way to slow down and appreciate nature. Devote a section of your backyard to growing flowers and vegetables. If you live in an apartment setting, select plants that will flourish indoors or on a balcony, like some species of palm trees and herbs.
c) Spend time with animals. Spending time with animals is so therapeutic it’s even been proven to help people recover from surgery faster. Take your dog for a walk. Watch your cat at play. Sign up for horseback riding lessons. Get yourself an aquarium with a couple of exotic fishes.
4. Live in the Present Moment
a) Put the past behind you. Yesterday is gone to return no more. When you dwell on the past, you’ll find it difficult to feel composed. It drains you of energy and makes you lose focus. If you’re thinking about past misfortunes, decide if you’d rather devote your energy to more constructive activities.
b) Adopt a positive view towards the future. The future always carries some uncertainty, however, the way you see your tomorrow right now determines the outcome of your tomorrow. You can begin to shape your future now by developing your mind for a better tomorrow. Focus on creating causes for a better future and patiently accepting whatever outcomes arise.
c) Enjoy the present moment. Give your full attention to what is happening now. Take advantage of the opportunities before you and delight in the good things that surround you. The challenges and problems you are facing now are not purely to make you suffer but for you to unravel the opportunities therein. Steer your mind towards wholesome thoughts and actions. Engage fully with the people who share your life.
Regardless of external circumstances, if you can master the above ancient techniques they will help you quite your mind. A busy mind can not be creative… you need your mind to be still to receive new ideas.
I personally find meditation very powerful as it gives me positive outlook on life and sets my day in the right direction and when my mind wavers, I refocus on the subject of my meditation for the day. When you use these methods on a daily basis, you will be able to create a more welcoming environment for yourself and others and more importantly train your mind to be quite and enjoy greater peace.
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