Most of suffering is self-created.
It comes from a thought. A thought is nothing else but an interpretation of a situation. It’s not the situation itself.
And a thought can make you suffer. A lot.
At the end, if you don’t inflict suffering to yourself, you don’t inflict suffering to others.
Declutter Your Mind will help you to stop worrying, relieve anxiety, and eliminate negative thinking. Here are three habits you can use to declutter your thoughts.
1) Focused Deep Breathing
We usually don’t pay much attention to our breathing and posture. We breathe without thinking about it. Yet becoming aware of how you are taking in and releasing air throughout the day can foster a calmer state of body and mind.
The authors of Declutter your Mind, recommend us to keep four things in mind while building the focused deep breathing habit:
- Rather than slouching at your desk or on the sofa at home, sit up straighter to allow more room for your lungs to take in oxygen.
- Be conscious of breathing through your nose rather than your mouth. Your nose has defense mechanisms that prevent impurities and excessively cold air from entering
- When you inhale, use abdominal breathing by gently pushing your stomach outward, and breathe through as though you’re filling your stomach.
- Pay attention to the difference between shallow breathing (which stops at the chest) and abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing (which fills the lower lobes of the lungs and encourages full oxygen exchange).
It’s been said that one of the best ways to detach from negative thoughts and gain control over your mind is through slow, deep, rhythmic breathing. However, Jane McGonigal, author of SuperBetter, explains a breathing technique that is more effective: The Power Breath.
“You exhale for twice as long as you inhale. So you might inhale for a count of four and exhale for a count of eight. If you’re really kind of worked up maybe you can only inhale for two and out for four when you get started and then you kind of slow it down more as you go. Maybe inhale for eight and exhale for 16 once you get really good at it. And it turns out that the reason why this works so effectively to calm yourself down is that it triggers a switch in your body’s nervous system from sympathetic nervous system state to parasympathetic.”
As Deepak Chopra says, “Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It’s a way of entering into the quiet that’s already there–buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.”
“There are thousands of different types of meditation,” says Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and author of Words Can Change Your Brain. “Studies suggests your body’s arousal system is calmed and the flow of stress-related hormones is reduced [by meditation],” Newberg explains. “There’s also a softening effect when it comes to emotional responses.” Just as weightlifting allows your muscles to lift a heavier load, working out your brain with meditation seems to fortify its ability to carry life’s emotional cargo. That stress-dampening effect has tied meditation to improved mood and lower rates of heart disease, insomnia and depression. Newberg says there’s also some evidence that meditation quiets the area of your brain that manages your sense of self and your relationship to others. That may sound like a bad thing, but this quieting may help you feel more connected to others and less isolated within yourself, he says.
The key to finding satisfaction with meditation is simply to practice. But if you are a beginner, perhaps a guided meditation could help you to get started.
In Declutter your mind, they recommend three guided meditations to get started:
1. Buddhify has over 80 custom guided audio meditation tracks on various topics.
2. Omvana, with dozens of guided meditations by very famous authors, teachers, and spiritual celebrities.
3. Headspace has a series of 10-minute guided exercises for your mind.
3) Reframe all negative thoughts
Do you ever catch yourself being critical, judgmental, or full of fear and worry? And do you ever worry about how many negative thoughts you have?
The spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle explains how the negative thoughts become alive. “The pain-body has a dormant stage and an active stage. Periodically it becomes activated, and when it does, it seeks more suffering to feed on. If you are not absolutely present, it takes over your mind and feeds on negative thinking as well as negative experiences such as drama in relationships. This is how it has been perpetuating itself throughout human history. Another way of describing the pain-body is this: the addiction to unhappiness.”
S.J. Scott and Barrie Davenport give us four strategies we can use throughout our day to break the pattern and begin taming our mind.
1. Be the watcher. Start by becoming aware of your thoughts. Separate your ‘self’ from your thoughts, and just observe what is going on in your mind.
2. Name that thought. Another way to to separate yourself from your thoughts is by mentally acknowledging that they are nothing more than thoughts–not your reality.
3. Just say no. When you catch yourself in mental looping or worry, simply say, ‘STOP’ out loud (vocalizing reinforces the interruption), and then visualize a heavy metal wall slamming down in front of your runaway thoughts.
4. Try to rubber band trick. Wear a rubber band on your wrist. Whenever you see it, stop and notice your thoughts. If you are stuck in negative thinking, put the rubber band on the other wrist or gently pop it on your wrist. This physical action interrupts the flow of negative thought.
5. Know your triggers. Often, overthinking and negativity are triggered by a person, situation or physical state. Pay attention to common worries and anxieties you brood about. Write down the triggers so you’re aware when they happen.
6. Distract yourself. Break the cycle using distraction. Do something that will occupy your mind so there’s no room for the negative thoughts. Immerse yourself in a project that involves focus and brainpower.