I posted in this blog recently You Can Read Minds! I suggested that our five physical senses are interrelated with our sixth sense, our intuition. The trouble is that our five senses are clogged and dulled by our environment and this has a negative impact on our intuition.
So how do we unclutter our minds? Ultimately it’s about meditation and mindfulness. For many silent meditation and letting go of thoughts and control has worked wonders. I heartily I recommend it. But maybe, as for me, silent meditation doesn’t work for you. I think it depends a lot on internal emotional wiring as to the effectiveness of this kind of meditation. I find that the stillness and quiet often allow in more mind clutter. After 40 years of trying this form of letting go I know it usually doesn’t work for me.
Instead I enjoy active meditation. In active meditation I get involved in an activity as a means to finding the peace and centering I crave. Active meditation allows me to be mindful and focused and enables me to turn matters over in my mind to achieve clarity. Such quiet activity offers me the space I need to move to the next good thing and to avoid the temptation to act too soon. Here are some active meditations I use to unclutter my mind (I’d love to hear about your favorites; please share them):
1. I listen to music. As I shaved today I found myself humming a tune in my head that comes back over and over again: September Song. Normally I would think of this as mind clutter but the song was activating me emotionally. I vividly recall this song as far back as 58 years ago. My mother sang along with it as she did her housework. I like the original 1938 Walter Houston recording or Frank Sinatra’s 1946 rendition. I looked it up on YouTube and listened, letting my emotions flow clearing myself of “stuck” feelings. Almost anything by Tchaikovsky also does it for me. What music does it for you?
2. I perform rituals. Oh nothing spooky…just something that focuses me on the familiar and give me a sense of purpose, like vacuuming, cooking, folding laundry, ironing, reading about architecture, or making myself a pot of tea. Filing paperwork, editing my wardrobe or library, and clearing out useless clutter in my house is also very cathartic. A friend of mine reads to the glow of his oil lamp collection every evening as if he’s living in 19th century England. What rituals help center you on your vital core?
3. I phone a friend. When I’ve got a lot of clutter in my mind, I like to share some of it with a sympathetic friend who listens and who champions my life. I stay FAR away from those who try to fix me or who tend to be naysayers, always looking at the glass half empty (I do enough of that myself!). Who is on your mind-uncluttering call list?
4. I eat my own food. I find that knowing what I’ve cooked, how I’ve prepared it, what herbs and spices I’ve used, and recalling the comforting process in cooking it offers me a unique peace of mind. The simpler, the better; my morning oatmeal, blueberries, and banana do the trick for me. What foods do you prepare (even if it’s just toast) that center your mind?
5. I walk…and walk some more. I tend to walk fast, which changes the visual scenery around me rather quickly. This is not a quiet stroll in the woods or by the shore. It’s a kind of power walk as I enjoy the stimulation of the architecture and people in Boston. Sometimes I walk so long and far that a friend has coined these strolls “death marches”! So it’s best that I go alone and at my own pace. What purely physical activity works for you to clear the clutter?
6. I connect in love. I find that focusing on the words, concerns, and feelings of my dearest friends gets me out of myself. Putting another person’s needs and concerns first helps me to re-prioritize what’s really important in the moment. That and plenty of physical affection enable me to get back into my body through my five senses. When was the last time you connected this way with another?
So get to it! I’ll bet you can come up with at least six ways of your own that strain the stress out of your mind and move you more deeply into your heart, where your real intelligence and perception lie. Let’s hear from you!
All artwork is copyrighted by the artist Michael Parise
From a correspondent:
Hi, Michael. Enjoyed the blog. It was helpful to rediscover the “ritual ness” aspect when I am doing active meditation. Your list is uncanny in describing ways I use. Over the years people have pointed out to me some things that I do that an observer might wonder “what the heck is that all about?” Some additions. I’ve been known to begin rearrange furniture and deep cleaning my office space, sometimes a mere 10 hours before I must produce and send a written product. Thanks to Joe Monkman I’ve been incorporating the use of essential oil in my daily living. It’s ability to quiet and calm is remarkable. I also engage in active and disciplined “unplugging” – web, radio, tv, phone, conversation, driving, opening mail, you get the idea; I do this for a day or even two when I can. Another thing to do is to take a little trip for a “destination acquisition.” For example, driving to the Short North to buy a pound of coffee and smell and watch the roasting process, or I drive to the Doran’s Farm Market for seasonal niceties. Both of these journeys are about 20 minutes by car. With intentionality, though, that hour and a half all told can feel like a weekend away. Finally, I have found nothing so effective as practicing, playing and writing music for the piano. From age 4, I would enter a trance-like state when at the keys. For hours and hours. When in my twenties, I would describe this as “leaving the planet.” That’s what I call it today. I think I’ll be leaving the planet today, too. Thanks for sharing and I hope you are well, Michael.
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