Three Ways to Break Free From Mental Clutter


Three Ways to Break Free From Mental Clutter


Mindfulness is the ability to be attentive and aware of yourself and your surroundings. It involves a judgment-free openness to all the thoughts, feelings, and experiences that the day might hold.

Some days the world feels crazy and overwhelming. Are you feeling it? I know I am.

You turn on the news to hear yet another terrorist attack or wackadoodle political scandal. Your phone and computer hammer you with updates and bad news. It’s hard to stay centered and positive when life presents you with so much agitation.

During stressful times, our brains go on overdrive with a constant internal monologue — ruminating, worrying, and replaying negative events. That non-stop voice in your head keeps yammering away, and much of the time it doesn’t have anything nice to say.

Buddhists call this yammering voice the “monkey mind,” and if left untamed, it can make your life miserable. It keeps you from enjoying the one true reality in this crazy world: the present moment. As renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow says, “The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.”

But when your mind is cluttered with negative thoughts and worries, mental un-wellness sabotages the present moment. You miss out on valuable, joyful experiences because you are mentally elsewhere.

So how can you declutter your mind of these thoughts to be more engaged in the moment? And how can you move humanity forward, as Maria invites us to do with her mission here, when humanity feels so stressful and overwhelming at times?

As I mention in my book (with co-author S.J. Scott), Declutter Your Mind, “When you learn how to control your mind, you open a door to the vastness of creativity, inspiration, and brilliance that is just behind the clutter of those untamed thoughts.” When you are mentally free to explore this vastness, you not only improve your own life, but you are free to improve humanity.

Is it possible to control your mind and break free from mental clutter? It may appear that you and your ruminating mind are inseparable, but through the daily practice of mindfulness, you have more control than you might assume.

Mindfulness is the ability to be attentive and aware of yourself and your surroundings. It involves a judgment-free openness to all the thoughts, feelings, and experiences that the day might hold.

As you continue to practice mindfulness, even for just a few minutes a day, your monkey mind will loosen it’s grip, and you’ll be more in control of your thoughts. Like all new habits, a mindfulness habit requires repetition before it becomes easier and automatic.

Mindfulness habits can take many forms. You likely know about mindfulness meditation, which is an excellent practice to help you reduce stress and tame your mental chatter. But meditation isn’t the only path to mindfulness. There are many practices that help anchor you in the present moment and retrain your brain to stay attentive.

Here are three simple ideas for you:

Five-Minute Focused Breathing

You can practice focused breathing anywhere, at any time. As you pay attention to your breath, you keep your mind from floating off in different directions.

The practice is simple. Sit or recline in a comfortable spot, and close your eyes. Focus your attention on each breath, both the inhale and the exhale. It might help to notice the rise and fall of your chest or the air moving in and out. If your mind wanders, gently guide it back to your breathing.

Mindful Eating

Eating is something we do several times a day, but often we do it on the run or without much attention. Choose one meal a day in which you are mindful during the preparation and consumption of the food.

Make the act of dining a special occasion. Set the table with care. Light candles. Before you eat, take a moment of gratitude to consider all of the people involved in getting the meal to the table. With every bite, chew your food slowly. Notice the various flavors and textures.

Relationship Presence

How often are you with someone you care about, but your mind is elsewhere? With your spouse, your kids, your co-workers — it’s so easy to get distracted and miss real connection.

Pay attention during your next interaction with someone. Put your phone away. Look the person in the eye. Listen attentively. Show them with your gestures and words that you are fully there and engaged with them.

With small, daily mindfulness practices, you can sweep away the clutter in your mind that is eroding your happiness and serenity. You can take control of your thoughts, and focus on what is most valuable and meaningful to you. In doing so, you’ll move humanity forward by serving as a model of gratitude, peace, and purpose.


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