A walk in the woods, time for peace

“Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. ” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

Outside of work and the family, one of my hobbies is helping out in the scouting movement. I remember when I was a youngster, being a cub scout and going to camps. There was fun, games, adventures and all along you were being taught life skills that many of my generations did not learn at school. For instance, how to light a fire with a flint and some cotton wool; how to map read (smartphones don’t always have a signal); how to cook on an open fire (how many BBQs have you been to where the food is incinerated); how to put up a tent; and so on. You get the idea.

As an adult, I have always wanted to contribute to the local community and support worthy causes. Scouting for me is one of those, so I am proud the be an active part of scouting. Scouting is growing and developing all the time. There are over 462,000 young people aged 6-18 (including 102,000 girls) in scouting across the UK. The flip side of being so popular is that there is a waiting list for youngsters to join.

Even with the advance of technology, there is still something magical about getting out and about in the woods, camping. And that is where I was this past Sunday. Supporting 14 teenage children helping them cook their breakfast on open altar fires. Followed by taking down and packing away their tents. Then a game of rounders.

For me, one of the most peaceful moments, was the walk into the woods first thing that Sunday morning. The silence. The calm and quiet. A time for reflection and a little bit of mindful walking. Being aware of the path. The tree roots and the stones. There was no one awake and the whole forest was at rest. There was no wind, so even the trees appeared to be silent.

Obviously, with lots of children about getting up (there were quite a number of groups camping); the noise level rose, but that feeling of peace was still there. Come lunchtime and it was time for me to head off home. My walk back along the forest path was as peaceful as the one first thing in the morning.

Whatever, you are up to this week, try to take some time out, to go for a walk. If not in a wood, perhaps along with a stream or river; perhaps around a local park; or even through some back streets of the place where you are. And as you walk, take the time to notice; really notice; the path that you are walking and the feeling of yourself as you move. The way your arms move, your feet as they are placed on the path. The warmth of the sun and maybe a breeze. Any smells or odors in the air.

Finally, if you are interested in supporting scouting and helping young people develop skills for life; why not go to the website to find out more.

https://www.scouts.org.uk/home/

There are many different ways you can help. If you have no idea where you can help, thee is a handy little tool to help ID where you

http://members.scouts.org.uk/rightrole/
I leave you with the following quote.

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Doing verse Being

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” ― Bernard M. Baruch

Our lives are ordered by the things that we do. The activities that we undertake and the results or outcomes that are achieved.

We have developed our learning and development programs for children to reflect this. Kindergarten is a place of play and happiness, being in those moments of play and companionship. This changes as children start the education journey. Tasks, activities, and results start to appear from year one and by the time children enter secondary school education; they are completely focused on the doing tasks of goal achievement, SATs, exams, graduation, etc.

As adults, we are driven by the need to achieve; to get that result; or goal in front of us. Work-related; relationship related; lifestyle or even socially. Everything around us seems to be focused on “Doing” rather than on “Being”.

So what is the difference?

Doing – the act of making something happen through your own action. doings: things that someone does: things that happen

Being – the state or fact of existing or living; existence or life. fundamental or essential nature

There is nothing wrong with “Doing”, after all, we spend most of our lives in “Doing mode”.

However, take a few moments to read the following list and see what it does mean in the context of why it is important to be more aware of “Being mode”?

  • Do you find it difficult to stay focused on what is happening in the present moment? Does your mind wander off? Do you get distracted?
  • Do you tend to walk quickly to get to where you are going without paying attention to what you are experiencing along the way?
  • Do you get to the destination without realising or remembering how you got there? Often, it is when you drive a car and you get to your destination and do not remember the journey.
  • Does it seem as if you are “running on automatic”, without much awareness of what you are doing?
  • Does it seem as if the day has flown past and you can not remember what you have done?
  • Do you rush through activities without being really attentive to them?
  • Do you get so focused on the goal you want to achieve that you lose touch with what you are doing right not to get there?
  • Do you find yourself preoccupied with the future or the past?

So what is the “Being” mode?

The full richness of the mode of “being” is not easily conveyed in words—its is best appreciated directly, experientially and personally. In many ways, it is the opposite of the driven–doing mode and if often unique to each individual. The “Being” mode is not devoted to achieving particular goals. In this mode, there is no need to constantly to monitor and evaluate (“How am I doing in meeting my goals?”).

Instead, the focus of the “Being” mode is “Accepting” and “Allowing” what is, without any immediate pressure to change it.

Simply put, it is trying to live by the adage “living in the flow” or “live moment to moment”, whilst at the same time taking the time to recognise and observe that you are. Imagine as it were you are in an activity – say reading an e:mail. Instead of just reading the e:mail and responding to it; take a moment, just a moment; to reflect on the e:mail, the context of the message and the person who sent it. Chances are you will respond differently to the message than if you just read and responded. This is the “Accepting” element.

“Allowing” arises naturally when there is no goal to be reached, and no need to evaluate where you are in trying to achieve the goal. This also means that attention is no longer focused narrowly on only those aspects of the present that are directly related to goal achievement; in “Being” mode, the experience of the moment can be processed in its full depth, width, and richness.

What can help you develop a “Being” mode of thought?

Yoga can help. So too can meditation. For me, I use Mindfulness; being consciously aware and trying to be present. The various practices within Mindfulness are easily adaptable for everyone. Whether it is mindful walking; a body scan; befriending or the simple 3 minute breath exercise; there is a practice there that can help.

Go on give one a try and let me know how you get on. For reference to the various practices you can try, go to the following website for some free examples:

https://laww.silvercloudhealth.com/mindfulness/

I leave you with the following quote.

“Do not let the memories of your past limit the potential of your future. There are no limits to what you can achieve on your journey through life, except in your mind.”

Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

In the Beginning there was….

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” ― Aristotle

In the beginning, there was…..

A raisin.

“A what? What on earth are you going on about?”

Let me explain and it will all become clear.

One of the first; possibly the most basic of all mindfulness practices, is called the Raisin Practice. It is the first practice in the eight-week mindfulness programme written by Doctor Mark Williams that I completed a few years ago (a link to the book and programme is at the end of this blog post if you want to find out more). You can use a raisin, or you can use some chocolate – though that tends to get very sticky and messy as you have to hold the chocolate for a while! It is a fantastic and simple way for people to be introduced to the world of mindfulness.

So what is the practice and how can you do it yourself or with others? The Raisin Practice is a mindfulness exercise that requires you to focus your mind on the present moment using all your senses – what you can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. The idea is that by focusing all your attention on the raisin, you help to bring your mind into the moment and train it to notice the present.

A favorite of children’s lunch boxes, handing these out and using them with adults in a mindfulness practice can sometimes come as a bit of a surprise. The technique may sound simple, but being still and present can be hard, especially with such a small thing as a raisin.

I am going to be holding an introductory session on Mindfulness; being held via video skype; to a group of work colleagues. I will be using the Raisin practice as the basis for the session. So how on earth am I going to do the exercise?

I plan to have a colleague hand out the raisins and then follow the steps below:

How do you practice the Raisin meditation? Before you begin, find a quiet spot where you can sit down and relax. You might find taking a few deep breaths will help you loosen the body and bring your mind to the practise. Once you’re ready, pick up the raisin and hold it in your hand. The next steps follow your senses.

1. Look at the raisin. Really concentrate. Let your eyes roam over the raison and pick out all the details– the colour, areas of light and shade, any ridges or shine from the crystalised sugars of the fruit. Before moving onto the next step, close your eyes, as this can heighten your other senses and help you focus.

2. Touch the raisin. With your eyes closed, place the raison into the palm of your hand. With your fingers explore the raisin’s texture. Is the skin waxy? Are there any edges? Is it sharp? It is soft or hard? Does it feel bigger that what you saw? Sometimes it can feel bigger.

3. Smell the raisin. Bring it close to your nose (don’t stick it up there!) and breath deeply. Concentrate on any scents and fragrances you can detect. Does the raisin smell sweet? Or perhaps earthy? Has this triggered your taste buds, saliva in your mouth or made your tummy grumble? Do you notice any other smells?

4. Taste the raisin. With your eyes still closed, place the raisin into your mouth. Notice how your hand instinctively knows where to go. Don’t chew yet, just spend some time concentrating on how the raisin feels on your tongue. Turn it over in your mouth and feel it’s texture on the roof of your mouth.Take a single bite into the fruit. Don’t swallow it yet. Focus your mind on the sensations just released into your mouth. How does it taste? How does this develop as the moments pass? How has the raisin changed? Do the smaller pieces of fruit feel different? Can you taste sweetness? Caramel? Any bitterness?

 

5. Finally, hear the sounds you make as you chew the raisin. You might hear the crunch of sugars; the motions of your jaws; the movement of your tongue as it helps you to maneuver the chewed raison and finally swallow it. Do you feel the remains of the raisin as it starts to travel down your throat?

Now take a moment to notice how your whole body feels. The calmness. The stillness of the moment.

When you are ready, start to awaken your mind. You might want to move gently, slowly open your eyes and take a few deep breaths.

With the meditation exercise now complete, you can carry on with your day. You will notice though a deeper insight into the day.

As mentioned at the start of the post, the link to the Book, “Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world” is below. I have recommended this book to numerous people and they have found it of benefit, by following the audio guided eight week mindfulness programme. Check it out at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mindfulness-practical-guide-finding-frantic/dp/074995308X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Finally, as always, I leave you with the following quote.

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”  ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

…. Namaste ….

Declutter by 50% mentally as well as physically

“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.” ― Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

With Spring in the air and the Easter break upon us; many people take the time to do what is known as a Spring Clean. Spring cleaning is the practice of thoroughly cleaning a house in the springtime. The practice of spring cleaning is especially common in climates with a cold winter and with this winter past us; it seems as if the spring clean bug has hit hard here in the UK.

Where does the term, Spring Clean possibly come from?

A possibility has been suggested that the origins of spring cleaning date back to the ancient Jewish practice of thoroughly cleansing the home in anticipation of the springtime festival of Passover; which they continue to do every year. Another idea is that it comes from the Iranian Nowruz, the Persian new year, which falls on the first day of spring. Iranians continue the practice of “khooneh tekouni” which literally means “shaking the house” just before the Persian new year. However, no one really knows.

What it does seem to be though, is a deep seated desire basic to de-clutter and clear up after the depths of the cold, dark winter, where we seem to spend a lot of time indoors.

I noticed over the Easter weekend that many people were out in their gardens, clearing leaves and dead items away; cutting the grass and planting new additions for the garden.

Others were cleaning windows; driveways and paths; or painting the outside of their properties.

Others were out running; cycling or in a couple of cases speed walking.

It seemed as if the mild weather, nature’s life bursting out and the holiday time, all coincided to give people the “Spring Clean & Declutter” bug.

Even in our house, we were tidying up; clearing the bathroom cabinet; taking unwanted items to the recycling centre and clearing the winter detritus from the garden. I also took the opportunity to clear up my laptop. After a recent rebuild onto Windows 10; I had not sorted out my filing; my browsing history or even the bookmarks that I had stored for up to two years, since getting the laptop new. This decluttering took an hour or so and in the process, I noticed, that I was clearing up about 50% of my files, my old history and past work.

It made me reflect that we also need to declutter ourselves as well; our minds as well as what those people were doing, exercising and running about.

So how do you declutter your minds?

There are many articles, even books written on the subject, but here are a list of tips I have found useful and continue to use:

Breathe: Slowly take a deep breath – counting up to six. Pause for a count of four. Exhale slowly for a count of up to six. Repeat. How does it feel? Great, right? Deep breathing is a simple yet effective technique to clear your mind, induce tranquility and improve your mood instantly. It lowers the heart rate, your blood pressure and helps your body relax. It is also one of the central practices of Mindfulness, which I practice and follow.

Learn To Let Go: It is important to let go of negative thoughts and emotions that make you feel bogged down. Eliminating negative thoughts, fears and concerns help reduce stress, boost self-esteem and frees up mental space. Monitor your thoughts regularly and try to replace your negative thoughts with positive ones. To help with this, try the next tip.

Keep A Journal: Journaling is a great way to relax your mind by crystallizing, analyzing and organizing your thoughts. Writing down what you are thinking can help eliminate intrusive thoughts about negative events and improve your memory. Think of the typical task list we all have written. Writing in a daily journal can also help manage anxiety and cope with depression, as it’s a healthy outlet to release bottled emotions, which you can not often express or share with others. It is your virtual counselor. You don’t have to be a writer to start a journal. For beginners, bullet journaling is one of the easiest techniques to use. As mentioned here, the next tip is….

Avoid Multitasking: Single-task as much as possible. Make a list of things you need to accomplish that day, that week and possibly even that month. Keep the to-do list simple and realistic. Start with what’s most important and make your way down the list, completing one task at a time. Don’t worry if you do not accomplish everything on the list. After all, for every set of tasks, you may only achieve 50%, and that is still an achievement!

Do a physical declutter: Go on have a go at a physical declutter. Is it a kitchen cupboard? Under the sink? Your clothes cupboard? The boot of your car? Part of the garden?  Whatever you choose, choose something where you can see clutter and possibly mess. Take it out, sort it out, choose what you want to keep and what you want to discard/give away / pass to charity. Put those items on one site and return the 50% (yes, it will be that amount). You will feel accomplished at the end of the exercise.

Finally, Take Some Time To Unwind: Last but not the least, take a break! Your brain needs to rest and recharge in order to perform smoothly. So switch off your TV’s, phones and laptops and do something that makes you feel happy. Whether it’s a long nap or a walk in the park. Do something that takes you away from the rush of your daily life.

If you have a tip or technique to declutter; I’d love to hear what you have tried. What has worked and what has not.

I leave you with the following quote.

“Accept yourself, love yourself, and keep moving forward. If you want to fly, you have to give up what weighs you down,” writes author Roy T. Bennett in his book The Light in the Heart.

 

Body Scan at the Check Out

“Daily life is better when it involves interactions with real people who have a personal investment in their labour, like shopkeepers, than it is with someone ‘just doing my job’ or the infernal self-checkout machine. Julian Baggini

“Get out of the way, you  “A-hole”, was the expression shouted across the supermarket.

I was out shopping; picking up some much-needed bread, milk and some lunch. The supermarket was busy and on a Saturday, full of people doing their weekly shop. There was a real hustle and bustle across the shop as people wheeled their trollies, or carried baskets full of groceries. All logic was lost in terms of people going from one end of the supermarket to the other in some sort of order, there was none. It felt like chaos.

All you could do was be patient and go about your shop calmly and slowly. Stepping out of the way of those in a rush. Negotiating the ramming of the trollies; the barging of the baskets and the poor staff trying to restock the shelves at the same time.

Eventually; having collected the groceries I needed; I proceeded to the checkout and that is where even more fun was going on.

There were large queues at the checkout points and someone had obviously got frustrated either with someone not standing clearly in a queue or possibly queue jumping. Hence, the shouted expression that starts this blog post.

It was at this point, that I started a mini body scan meditation.

What on earth is a body scan meditation? How do you practice one; and why did I do it then?

So, let’s start with, what is a body scan meditation?

The body scan as a way to get in touch with the body; let go of feelings of needing to get stuff done, and release pent-up emotions. Just like other forms of meditation, the body scan also trains attention to the present moment. The body scan alternates between a wide and a narrow focus of attention; from focusing on your little toe; along with your leg; up your torso and all the way through the entire body. The body scan trains your mind to be able to move from a detailed focused attention; to a wider and more spacious awareness from one moment to the next.

The body scan can be performed while lying down, sitting, or in other positions. For instance, I can do a mini version, standing up in a supermarket queue!

How do you practice a body scan?

You can begin the practice by lying on the floor, or on a mat, on a sofa, or even on your bed. Basically, you can begin by focusing your attention at the top of your head and then move down the body, or vice versa. It’s a good idea to use a guided practice to help you get a sense of how to move your attention up or down the body. I enclose a link at the end of the post that I follow.

The steps below are an example of a 5 to 10 minute guided meditation designed to be done while lying on a mat or sofa. There are many examples you can follow, all of differing times. You can do a 3 minute exercise, right the way through to one that lasts for up to 45 minutes.

Firstly, find a comfortable position to lie down on. Don’t worry if you have a tendency to start to fall asleep. That is normal and is something not to worry about.

Start by bringing your attention into your body. The whole of your body.

You can close your eyes if that’s comfortable for you.

Notice your body lying down, feeling the weight of your body on the sofa or on the floor.

Take a few deep breaths. And as you take those breaths, notice your breath as is enters and leaves your lungs. The rising and falling of your chest. And as you take a deep breath, bring in more oxygen enlivening the body. And as you exhale, have a sense of relaxing more deeply. For every step below you need to breathe slowly in and out. Taking your time to breathe easily and deeply..

Notice your feet on the floor, notice the sensations of the heels or the soles of your feet touching the floor. The weight and pressure. Vibration. Heat. Coolness.

Notice your legs against the floor. The pressure, pulsing, heaviness, lightness of your legs.

Notice your back against the floor and the weight of you lying against the floor..

Bring your attention into your stomach area. If your stomach is tense or tight, let it soften.  

Notice your hands. Are your hands tense or tight. See if you can allow them to soften.

Notice your arms. Feel any sensation in your arms. Let your shoulders be soft.

Notice your neck and throat. Let them be soft. Relax.

Soften your jaw. Let your face and facial muscles be soft as if you are melting slowly.
Then notice your whole body. Here. Present. In the moment. Take one more breath.

Be aware of your whole body as best you can. Take a breath. And then when you’re ready, you can open your eyes.

That is a full body scan. What I did at the checkout was a mini-scan. Why did I do a body scan in a queue?

I use those moments when standing in a queue to recentre myself. To bring attention to myself in that moment. Why? It stops you getting agitated about the queue. I find that by the time I get to the checkout, I am clam, smiling and when I greet the person who is serving me with a smile, it makes them feel better about the day as well.

If you would like to perform a full body scan meditation, give the following a try:

http://franticworld.com/free-meditations-from-mindfulness/

I leave you with the following quote.

About eighty percent of the food on shelves of supermarkets today didn’t exist 100 years ago.” ― Larry McCleary,

Tips for dealing with anxiety

“Our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strengths.” ― Charles Haddon Spurgeon

A chance comment at the weekend sparked a long conversation on the causes of anxiety and how to cope with it. It is not often that you find yourself in the depths of a conversation about anxiety when you are getting your haircut, but that’s what happened to me. The person felt that they were anxious and had been feeling so for about a month. This had also affected their sleep pattern, work and home life.

So what is anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal response to stress or danger and is often called the ‘flight or fight’ response. This is the expression that is often used when animals are presented with a danger – do they fight or do they run away? The ‘flight or fight’ process involves adrenalin being quickly pumped through the body enabling it to cope with whatever catastrophe may come your way. There are problems that arise when this response is out of proportion to the actual danger of the situation, or indeed is generated when there is no actual danger present.

Physical symptoms can include:                         Psychological symptoms can include:
Butterflies in the stomach                                           Wanting to escape or run away
Racing heartbeat                                                            Inner tension and relaxation
Shortness of breath                                                         Feeling agitated most of the time
Chest tightness                                                                 A fear of losing control
Dry mouth                                                                          A feeling of detachment or loss

Is feeling anxious common?

Anxiety disorders are very common. In a Office for National Statistics survey 1 in 6 adults had experienced some form of ‘neurotic health problem’ in the previous week. More than 1 in 10 people are likely to have a ‘disabling anxiety disorder’ at some stage in their life. The most recent Psychiatric Morbidity Survey indicates that there are some 3 million with an anxiety disorder. So it is common and more common than you think.

What causes anxiety?

My friend that I was speaking to, said that it seemed to come on after they had given up smoking. Within a couple of days, they had started to feel tremors all the time; a feeling of a racing heartbeat; fear of going to sleep and wanting to be outside. We did not discuss the details of what was the cause as there are many factors that can trigger an anxiety disorder – stress; physical factors; something that triggers a historical memory or even a biochemical imbalance. Knowing the origins of an anxiety disorder doesn’t help in dealing with the day to day problems that arise as a result of the disorder. My friend was not interested in what had caused it, as they could not identify the cause themselves, rather they wanted to know how to deal with it.

As we chatted, I shared that I, too, had felt anxious in the past and I had used the practice of mindfulness to help reduce my levels of anxiousness. A doctor had mentioned to my friend that mindfulness is recognised as an effective treatment method and they wanted to know more.

I shared some of the practices and approaches that I have used. A couple of really useful practices I describe below:

Breath counting

This technique is very easy and you can do it almost anywhere. It is generally better to do this with your eyes closed. On your next in-breath, count up to 6 as you breathe all the way in, and then on the out-breath, count up to 10 as you breathe all the way out. This technique has the effect of lengthening both the in-breath and the out-breath, slowing down your breathing. It also lengthens the out-breath more than the in-breath, forcing you to release more carbon dioxide, slowing your heart rate, calming you down and restoring emotional equilibrium.

Make sure you fit the numbers to your breath and not the other way around. If 6 and 10 don’t work for you, find another ratio that does, as long as the out-breath is at least two counts longer than the in-breath. If it’s too hard to continue breathing while counting, count for one full breath, then take one normal breath and count the next one.

Finger breathing

Finger breathing is another version of breath counting and does not rely on you closing your eyes. Hold one hand in front of you, palm facing towards you. With the index finger of your other hand, trace up the outside length of your thumb while you breath in, pausing at the top of your thumb and then trace it down the other side while you breathe out. That’s one breath. Trace up the side of the next finger while you breathe in, pause at the top, and then trace down the other side of that finger while you breathe out. That’s two breaths. Keep going, tracing along each finger as you count each breath. When you get the end of the last finger, come back up that finger and do it in reverse.

This practice gives you something visual to focus on and something kinaesthetic to do with your hands as well as focusing on counting and your breathing. It is very useful when there is a lot going around you and it is hard to just close your eyes and focus inwards. It’s also a very easy technique to teach teenagers and kids.

Why not give them a go and notice what happens.

I leave you with the following quote that made me smile.

“It’s not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.”  ― Stephen Fry, Moab Is My Washpot

The monkey mind

“I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the ‘monkey mind’ — the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

I don’t know about you, but my mind can be a jumble of disconnected thoughts on a daily; hourly or even minute by minute. If you consider that per day, we can have between 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day, this means between 35 and 48 thoughts per minute, your mind is a constant jumble of thoughts.

What is a thought?

A definition that I came across suggests that a “thought” is a “sporadic single-idea cognitive concept resulting from the act of thinking, or produced by spontaneous systems-level cognitive brain activations.”

What I tend to believe is that a thought is those individual images; movies or silent conversations that we have. I have a mixture of these. Not sure if this is normal or not, so I would be interested to hear what your thought process is.

However, one thing I do know is that apart from the normal random thoughts that occur during the day including – “Why is that driver pulling out on me”; “what’s for lunch?”; “what is next to do?”; there are those reoccurring self-doubt thoughts.

“Why did I do that?”; “Why did I say that?”; “Will anyone notice I made a mistake?”; “Why do I continue to make the same mistake”; “Is so-and-so happy? Have I upset them?”; “Will I lose my job?”; “What about my health?”  – those types of thoughts.

These are associated with an expression called “Monkey Mind”. I love the idea of your mind as a tree and that each thought is a branch, and you, or at least the attention of your mind, is like a monkey, swinging from thought-branch to thought-branch all day long.

These self doubt thoughts drive irrational fears, made real by our own constant attention. Left unchecked you can literally come to believe that these thoughts are real!

The result of the monkey mind of self doubt, results in mental as well as physical fatigue. We’ve all had days where it feels like we’ve achieved nothing and there’s a mountain to climb tomorrow. You feel exhausted and completely worn out.

So what is the answer?

The first step is awareness. Are you aware that you actually have self doubt thoughts and all they are is thoughts. Not real, but purely your own self consciousness? As an experiment, set aside a notepad and for a while, every time you have a self doubt thought either write it down, or even make a mark on the paper. You will be amazed how many you can get in a short period of time.

Secondly, find a way to quieten those thoughts. You will never get rid of them, but you can find ways to reduce their intensity. You can try meditation; mindfulness (which is what I practice); yoga; or some other form of contemplative pursuit. You can try exercise, as it is very difficult to have many thoughts when you are pounding the treadmill, cycling, swimming or doing something physically taxing.

You could try event try a technique called the A-B-C Technique. A lot of the time, the monkey mind is caused by your thoughts disagreeing with what’s going on around you. When the present moment situation doesn’t align with what your personal beliefs are, your monkey mind begins to spit and howl. The A-B-C technique can help you deal with the disparity between what your monkey mind thinks should be happening, and what is actually happening. Here’s how it works:

  • A is for “activating event”. That is, something happens.
  • B is for “beliefs”. Your monkey mind starts interpreting what’s happening based on your beliefs.
  • C is for “consequences”. As a consequence of the thoughts that you’re having about what just happened, you feel certain emotions.

The key to taming the monkey mind by applying the A-B-C technique is to question the beliefs that the your mind is relying on in order to reach the conclusions that you are having.

I leave you with the following quote.

“We have the choice of two identities: the external mask which seems to be real, and the hidden, inner person who seems to us to be nothing, but who can give himself eternally to the truth in whom he subsists.” ― Thomas Merton