You'll feel better! I promise.
Have you ever felt like you were going out of your mind?! Stressful days all piling up on you until your brain's spinning and your head feels like it might explode?
Whenever we hear the phrase "going out of your mind" we instantly think of it in this negative sense: feeling crazy, overwhelmed or out of control. But being ‘out of your mind’ can actually help you face challenges and feel happier in hard situations if you approach 'going out of your mind' deliberately.
Current research studies shows the benefits of ‘mindfulness’ meditation as developed by Joh Kabat-Zinn and others. However, I find the term 'mindfulness' a bit misleading, don't you? Because what we're really craving is emptying our mind, not making it more mind-full.
So, let's explore the idea of going out of your mind ... on purpose!
Modern positive psychology research reveals the importance of positive thoughts, nurturing attitudes of gratitude, and how our beliefs create much of our experience. Those benefits prove themselves out further in multiple studies that show meditation actually changes your brain in positive ways. Focused relaxation (or ‘purposeful pausing’) during your busy and distracting everyday demands can truly improve your life.
But, as you know, change and challenge can strike at any moment. If you make a practice of getting out of your mind and into your heart, you’ll be ready for those out-of-the-blue moments when they come, prepared to respond rather than react and see multiple choices of action rather than just one.
Science has now proven that our heart has an energy and cellular wisdom that, when nurtured, helps us live life more fully and gracefully. So learn to deliberately get out of your mind and into your heart as regularly as you would any other physical exercise. You are a body-mind-heart-soul being but we tend to spend most of our time (and worry) focused on the body-mind aspects, neglecting the heart and soul that also require attention.
The good news is — You don't have to sit quietly under a sacred tree or alone on a mountaintop to reap the benefits of this process. You can do it in 5-10 minute increments throughout your day, in a private place you designate. Here are seven ways to go ‘out of your mind’ ... in a good way. Each of these easy activities will help inoculate you against unexpected stress and help you feel good even when life gets overwhelming:
1. Take 'Purposeful Pauses.'
Use your calendar to schedule 'Me Time' and have a place to go in your home or outdoors where you can enjoy a minimum of five minutes of quiet stillness, reading, listening to music, or meditating in some way. Those little breaks will help you feel focused and charged the rest of the day.
2. Learn to see everyday things in new ways.
An easy way to practice this is to look at a raisin and really contemplate it. Notice its color, its shape, its texture, its wrinkles and other nuances of its makeup. This is a practice of mindfulness taught in the biggest name schools today such as Harvard, Duke, Columbia, John Hopkins, etc. Try it!
3. Remember the magic of simply breathing.
Breath is the elixir of life. We hold our breath when we feel anxious or scared. We increase our breathing when we feel nervous or stressed. Yet, if you become conscious of your breath as a daily and frequent practice, you will notice a carry over effect of calmness and readiness when stress pops up, allowing you to shift your breathing when stress occurs.
4. Schedule extreme self-care.
Take a walk on the beach, or in woods, or by water. Get a massage or pedicure. Anything that feels like a special treat for YOU, make time for it. You deserve this time to relax your mind after all you do for others.
5. Find a tribe.
Join or create a group of like-minded people who are also on a path of ‘going out of their mind’ on purpose. This could be a book club, art exchange, poetry reading, spiritual practice workshop, or just plain sharing of needs with other caring souls.
6. Write your thoughts down often.
Use a journal (or, write on your computer) to dump what's on your mind out so you can better see your thoughts, hopes and dreams. Who knows? Some beautiful things might surface in your writing that could help others. Or, you can keep these writings as your private narrative. Either way, this is an important outlet for freeing what's stuck in your mind.
7. Get moving!
Take a yoga class. Play tennis, ride bikes (or horses), dance, run, walk, or engage in any other form of physical activity. Often, the process of moving our bodies frees up space in our mind. So, do something for your body today.
Dr. Patrick Williams is a life and wellness coach, author and speaker.