SPRING CLEANING THE MIND
The Universe is so funny… it loves a good dose of irony to teach us what we need to know to become our highest selves. Here’s proof: I sat down to write this piece on decluttering your mind hours ago… actually, in truth, days ago… my page has been filling with words and ideas, but the flow keeps getting interrupted by thoughts like, “Did I order a big enough jumper for my son’s party? What’s in the fridge for dinner? I wonder if people will like my last social post.” And on and on. My problem isn’t lack of thoughts, it’s just the opposite… thought overload! I swear if you cracked open my skull right now, it’d probably look like an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink pot pie. A jumbled mess of chaotic thought.
It happens to all of us. I call it cobweb brain. And I’m willing to bet that it happens to you too. Ever walk into a room, clueless as to why you are there? That’s cobweb brain. Or maybe you spend lots of time thinking and planning but not so much time doing. That’s cobweb brain. Or perhaps you are thinking about your CVS receipt sized to-do list as your partner shares about his day. That’s cobweb brain. On average we think 35-48 thoughts per MINUTE… that equals 50,000-70,000 thoughts per DAY! And I’d suspect that only a small percentage of those thoughts are kind, useful, necessary or even true.
Here’s the thing. Mind clutter and life dissatisfaction are directly correlated. When we carry chaos in the mind, we carry it in the body and we become a living, breathing vehicle for experiencing chaos in our worlds. Simply, our external experiences are reflections of our internal experiences… you can’t experience peace externally, if you’re not cultivating it internally.
When we free up mental space, we free up heart space, which in turn allows us to return to our center. Our center is the birthplace of authenticity, creativity, possibility, aliveness and even productivity.
Here’s the other thing… the brain is still pretty primitive. It hasn’t evolved nearly as fast as the pace of technology or cultural demands… so put simply, our brains are tired.
So what do we do when mind clutter prevents us from progressing on our goals, or from experiencing serenity and presence in our relationships? How do we clear out the cobwebs so that we can write a coherent article, or focus on a coworkers speech, or truly connect with our child over a game of Connect 4? How can you sweep out the debris to get our mental houses in order?
It begins with understanding how your mental clutter serves you. Does it make you feel important? Does it keep you from actually having to get things done or from making decisions? Does it prevent you from having to sit with your feelings? In what way are you rewarded by your own mental clutter? And are you willing to let that perceived reward go, in exchange for a peaceful mind? To even attempt to declutter, we have to surrender. We have to give ourselves permission to be in peace.
Once open to a state of declutter, consider implementing a few of these practices, each designed to offer your mind an opportunity to downshift. Only in a slower state can we truly filter out the junk and develop a space of clarity.
Find zen in your pen by writing down all of your mind clutter. Then rip it up!
Once a day, monotask. Concentrate on just one thing.
Break free from negative media at least 24 hours/week.
Make QUALITY sleep a priority.
Replace an electronic conversation with human connection.
Visualize an open, clear mindset.
Let something go… a grudge, a self attack, an expectation, a worry.
Daily, pause and appreciate something for a complete minute.