Un-Cluttering The Mind
The Nature of the Mind by Janet Watkins
The mind is like a closet. When you see something in the way or out of place, no problem, just toss it into the closet and then shut the door. Do it over and over again until the door no longer shuts or everything falls out of the closet.
A long time ago in another land my house was clean and organized. I would clean and organize on nights and weekends. I even planned weekends around it. I hosted holiday gatherings, dinner and birthday parties. I loved it. I loved that when people would enter my house and see such a clean and organized home they would see that I was “normal.” If I were a princess in this land it would have been combination of Snow White (deep slumber) and Cinderella, scurrying about so others would let her join them. Then one tragic day it all blew up. The land was no more and everything came tumbling out the closet.
I was so busy trying to control the only aspects of my life I believed I could control, so afraid to clean out the “closet” that when tragedy struck there was literally nothing I could do to fix it. Everything came tumbling out of the closet and the persona I spent years creating collapsed. There it was: hurt, anger, betrayal and the very first thing I tossed in the closet, shame, right in front me and what I believed at the time the whole world could see. It has been 20 years this month that life as I knew it changed.
The most important piece of information I learned in studying Ayurveda is the function of the mind, this small atom of energy that can create such isolation and suffering if not examined and eventually trained. I was unaware of the teachings of training the mind or that we could look at the mind, the thoughts. I thought anything that came from the mind came from me. The mind without training remains connected and dependent on the senses which are connected to the external world.
Making friends with yourself.....
Chapter 6 of the Bhagavad Gita, “The Yoga of Meditation”, Sri Krishna explains to Arjuna the importance of meditation, “neither attached to the objects of the senses nor to actions, one who has conquered himself by having his mind directed to a single object, allowing the mind to rest, he is content in the self;”. In essence our mind can be our friend or a hostile enemy. The awareness of living in a “hostile” land created a survival mode within me. Everything that I did was solely about surviving. My belief that something was broken deep inside of me and “only me” is what allowed the suffering and isolation to continue. I would love to write about how easy it was to flip the switch and change but it was not. At times it was a dark lonely experience to be in. I found myself frozen at times. The alienation of people closest to me went against what I wanted to happen but each time when the light burned bright again, there was a shift in life and as I continued on through experience and faith, those dark experiences have become shorter and shorter.
Every experience is different......
I have not shared any ‘how to” tips to declutter the mind rather I am sharing what I learned and incorporated into my life that continues to support my spiritual journey. If something resonates with you, I offer you to make it your own.
- Allow & Accept how it is going. If it is hard, accept that it is hard. The greatest disservice we do to our ourselves is not accepting ourselves and life as it shows up. Having spent my life surviving and protecting myself, it was difficult for me in the beginning, there was a natural response to resist everything. It was the allowing and acceptance of the difficulty which led me to the understanding of why I resisted which in turn, created compassion for myself.
- Surround yourself with people who Allow & Accept where you are right now. To truly see someone and allow them to be exactly who they are is one of the greatest gifts we can extend to another person. To impose opinions or thoughts or even beliefs of where someone should be, how fast they should heal, or how they should act comes from a lack of self-love and self-acceptance.
- Find a supportive teacher that will teach from their own experiences and not strictly from a book. Reading something brings a layer of awareness. To apply the reading in our life brings experience and relatability which is the greatest knowledge of all.
- Creating space between thoughts and reaction is where the healing begins to take place. The thoughts that controlled my life are not 100% gone. Instead there is a space that has been created that allows me a choice of how to or not respond. This not only has allowed me to have choices but also allowed my thoughts to become allies. If an old detrimental thought arises, I can look at what experience is bringing it up and work with it from the heart.
- Journal, journal, journal! Getting the thoughts out of the racing mind is important and when nobody is around, journaling becomes the way of looking at the thoughts directly. This is not to “fix” them or even understand them. It is a way of stopping the loop that goes round and round.
- It is not about judging the past behaviors! This is a process of understanding ourselves deeply, so deeply that compassion begins to grow for that part of oneself that was ignored and/or judged. From this the compassion grows for others, letting go of judgement and seeing that everyone everywhere is doing the best they can just like I continue to do. This was freeing for me realizing that my judgements were a way of protecting myself.
- Find a form of meditation that works for you. Meditation is about disengaging from the mind and the external world but it does not happen overnight. Finding ways to be absorbed in an activity that allows you to let go of the constant noise is a great place to start. How do you find that? Ask yourself the following questions:
What actually decreases my stress?
What gets me out of my head and into my heart?
How can I increase my ability to connect to my intuition?
What does it take for me to show up as my highest self?
It could be drawing, painting, dancing, or something that allows your soul to shine through. I was surprised to discover that in practicing writing the Sanskrit alphabet letters, I became so absorbed that before I knew it 2 hours had passed.
- Follow the emotions. Emotions are not who we are but they can lead us inward if we follow. In addition to thoughts, emotions can also keep us stuck. Allowing an emotion to rise without engaging it with a thought or commentary creates just as much space. This past year brought up a lot of the emotions I threw into the closet. They rose up at the most opportune time for healing. At times allowing was effortless. Other times I talked with someone who would just listen and allow me to process.
Believe in yourself.....
Living a life filled with criticism and judgements whether self-imposed or by others resembles living life in an overstuffed closet, reaching around in the dark to find something familiar and hoping we do not fall out to the open where everyone can see us. This is not living at all. I am at peace where I am in my spiritual journey knowing that there is more to uncover and heal and I have faith in myself that I will continue to show up and move forward. At times my mind may say this is too difficult and I respond by reminding my beautiful Self that I have already experienced the worst and I can handle this.