Three times this week I have heard the advice about not giving negative thoughts room in your head, and it’s only Wednesday! Twice this came round in discussions about using meditation techniques to prevent the negative thoughts taking hold of your mind and so preventing the trains of thought that often follow a negative idea, which if unchecked can spiral out of control. At worst turning a single negative thought into a bad day or depressive episode.
Yesterday, I was reading Joanna Watters astrology newsletter and she commented on the full moon on Sunday. This full moon falls in emotional Pisces which means it could be a time of emotional upset or turmoil for many. However if you have the tools to work with, you can prevent negative emotions and feelings from ruining your day. Meditation gives us these tools: by practicing regularly we can learn to re-focus our mind when any thought pops in, so why can’t we do this with specific types of thoughts, ie negative ones? We can, and better still, we can learn to steer ourselves away from those thoughts that are going to make us unhappy. We can learn to pick and choose what thoughts we allow into our heads.
Of course, there are times we need to address negative issues but what’s to say we can’t decide when is an appropriate time to deal with this, not just when our mind feels like it – but that is a whole other topic and blog post!
As we practice meditation we can learn to identify when our mind has wandered away from the object of our meditation and by doing this regularly we can create a habit of noticing when our mind has been distracted by thoughts that are not to do with the task in hand. Once we’ve noticed this distraction we can then choose to bring the mind back. For example: whilst writing this post my mind has tried to wander off to my to do list or what photo will look good next to this post, but as I become aware that I am thinking of something that is not to do with the subject of this writing (ie when I’ve lost my train of thought) I bring it back to how I want to phrase the next line. Today is a good day and my mind is fairly well focused, but some days it’s a proper monkey mind and I’m forever pulling it back (and that’s only when I’ve noticed it’s been off elsewhere) – it could be luck that today is a good day, or it could be because I’ve been practicing watching my mind and an beginning to create the habit of focusing on one task at a time.
Come Sunday’s full moon I will be watching my mind closely. I already had plans in the diary to spend the day with friends, and with a busy rest of the weekend I know it would usually be an emotionally trying time for me. Now that I am for-warned and have the tools, I am confident I will get through this much more easily than I might have done before.
So, was it just coincidence that I have repeatedly heard this advice, at this time or a pertinent warning from my guides or angels to be on my guard and to look out for myself? I know many who would dismiss the latter in an instant but I feel there are just too many coincidences not to have some significance. I’d love to hear your views on this, please leave me a comment on here or on social media @medullaspace
How important is it to stop and see if you need time-out to re-charge your batteries? We are all human beings and even the fittest and most healthy of us will tire at some point. But most of us are just ordinary people trying to fit in extraordinary amounts of tasks, thoughts and conversations into an increasingly shorter 24 hour period.
By checking in with your body and mind on a regular basis you can become aware of when tiredness isn’t alleviated by a good night sleep. Checking in can be a mindful practice including a full body scan practice, however it doesn’t need to be a lengthy exercise and can be done in a minute or two. I have got into the habit now of doing this in 20 seconds two or three times a day to compare how I’m feeling throughout the day. Be careful not to allow your mind to use the overpowering burdens of your to do list to influence this, try to go beyond this and have all your attention on your physical body to see how it is feeling. The great thing is that no-one needs to know you’re even doing it!
Going back then, to that point where tiredness isn’t alleviated by a good night sleep – this is the point at which you would ideally do something about it. Maybe you could book a holiday, take a couple of days off to rest or an afternoon to sit in the garden with a good book; at the very least you could take a long soak in the bath or practice some meditation.
There are many things you can do to feel refreshed and revived, and most of them will involve not thinking about your to do list. So anything that takes your mind off this, even if it involves extensive thinking about something else, will give your mind a break. This is why meditation is so useful, especially if done on a regular basis. By having something else to think about (if you’re following a guided meditation) or by thinking of nothing at all (which yes, admittedly does take practice) your mind is given a rest from chasing the usual suspects in your to do list – and a mental rest is often just what most of us need!
There are times, however, when this is not enough and you really do need to physically rest your body. With regular observation of the body and how it’s feeling, you should be able to pick up when physical tiredness is becoming more than just noticeable. And here you really should be doing something to help yourself – the body needs to rest, it cannot keep going endlessly; it needs to repair itself, to re-build muscles and blood cells and clean the digestive system etc. All these things happen when you rest and if you don’t allow your body to look after itself it will start to go wrong – pain and illness will become issues and the longer you ignore this the more serious it could be.
The good news is you can prevent this (or even prevent things from getting worse if they’ve already started) by getting to know your body’s warning signs and doing (even little) things to help it. By knowing that your knee is more sore today than yesterday, which is more painful than the day before, you can make the decision that running every day is maybe not right for you and to take a day off. I don’t mean give up but a bit of a rest!
So look after yourself by starting to create a habit of checking in with your body regularly to see how it is genuinely feeling. You might need to set a reminder on your phone or make it part of your morning or evening bathroom routine but this simple practice might turn out to be one of the most important things you do all day.
If you would like further guidance on mindful body scan practices or guided meditations then please drop me a line through the contact tab above or click here to drop me an email.