As I sit here in front of my laptop to document and finish my clients’ files, I notice how many stories I have been working with daily. Each client represents a story, and each one is entirely unique, yet each has one central element in common: each level of interaction is covered in thoughts, an overactive mind working overtime. Each one’s story represents fear, anger, and/or grief, i.e., fear of the unknown, fear of regrets, fear of failure, fear of loss. Every fear mentioned is of a situation not existing currently, and anger is expressed over past events. Grief is due to a loss that has already occurred. Each client is basing life decisions over what has not happened yet or what has already taken place; no one seems to take a moment to acknowledge their presence, except in running like a machine. When I teach my clients mindfulness, it is essential to start with the act of silencing the mind, an action most of them find very difficult.
For someone who has negative thoughts or for the one who is basing life’s decisions on fears, the past does not have a silent mind. A silent mind is what I, as a life coach, believe is necessary for a person to continue living rationally and positively. This means disconnecting, stopping everything, and giving your mind a rest. Take a break from consistently creating scenarios that do not exist and from dwelling on the past; shutting off the cycling routine will stimulate the mind with peace and tranquility. Silencing the mind may look different for each person. It may include prayers for some; for others, it may be meditation; and for another, it may be nature, an activity, or the company they keep.
Notice especially when we go to bed at night, all kinds of thoughts come to mind: a to-do list, the alarm to wake up to the next morning, opinions about everything that went wrong during the day; our mind is continuously working. We don’t even sleep with a silent mind; we are always basing our actions upon our thinking of an anticipated outcome. If these small, routine elements of our life take up so much space in our mind, then imagine the significant decisions and where they are coming from.
Now, how do you achieve a moment of silence? Be still, just stop. It is not as hard as it sounds. Out of 24 hours in a day, we should have 8 hours of recommended sleep. We don’t even give ourselves that. We know the world, our businesses, every role we play will continue in the best way possible if we are doing the best for ourselves first, but we do not give ourselves what human nature requires. We consistently work like a machine, then guess what happens to an overactive device if you don’t turn it off? It will burn out; it will stop performing. The same applies to us as human beings as well.
No one will hand you a manual or tell us we are about to burn out. We have to recognize our own signs, listen to our own mind, body, and soul. Ever had a crash where you felt you cannot push yourself anymore? Yup, this was a result of burnout. When I say, “Be still or just stop,” it means stop planning; if you cannot predict a positive outcome, drop that plan. Do not go with a project you fear will have negative results. If you are angry, then sit down if you are standing up, and lie down if you are sitting. Change your position to prevent yourself from becoming angry and acting in a way that can be regretful. Experience the emotion, but do not allow the feeling to overcome you.
Grief/sadness takes a while to process and has its stages. Silence your mind by allowing yourself to go through the grief period and not deprive yourself of experiencing the stages. Speak with someone, do not isolate yourself, and experience it till the acceptance stage is reached. What is gone and who is gone will not come back, but you will continue to live with good positive memories as you grow through life. Accept what you cannot change and move forward with what and who remains.
A silent mind can also be just stopping in the middle of your day to meditate and to rejuvenate from your everyday routine. This can be a meditation, watching something in nature, enjoying a good conversation, saying a prayer, or just sitting still looking outside your window. A silent mind takes you away from overthinking and overactive thought processes; it disconnects you from all the distractions and demands of decisions and actions, bringing you back to self. For example, I pray five times a day; yes, it is considered religious, but this is how I silence my mind five times a day. I disconnect from the world, work, and family for a few moments to gather my energy and allow myself space to rejuvenate and restart. What will you do to silence your mind?
Remember, taking moments for yourself and away from overthinking is not selfish; it is self-care. As human beings, we need this; we need to silence our minds and disconnect from what overwhelms us, scares us, and creates negative feelings within us. If we don’t, then there is a possibility we will sabotage ourselves and be less productive which could lead to bad decision- making.
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