Techniques for Easing a Troubled Mind
With all that’s troubling in the world today, how do we keep our minds from getting caught up in it and stealing our peace? Here are some techniques I’ve found to be helpful:
1. Check to see if you’re dwelling in the past or future and make an effort to come back into the present moment. Often, if the trouble’s happening right now, you’re busy taking care of it.
2. If you can do something about the issue, either take care of what you can now or schedule an action. If there’s nothing that can be done at this time, try to stop any painful stories your mind may be telling you and come back into the now.
3. If you’re having a hard time staying in the present moment, try focusing on your breathing, even for just a few moments. Then become aware of everything around you—your surroundings, physical sensations, even your thoughts and emotions. Acknowledge any painful feelings with kindness and allow them to be as they are. Just witness them with compassion—you don’t have to get caught up in them.
4. Catch yourself when you’re being unkind to yourself or others. Being kind helps us feel better and happier. Even when we need to speak an unpleasant truth, saying it in a kind way helps others be willing to listen and more likely to consider our message.
5. Even if there’s nothing to be done about the situation that’s troubling you, take action on something else. This refocuses the mind on being productive. We feel good when we accomplish things and move forward. Most of the time when we’re caught up in stressful thoughts/feelings, it’s not while we’re taking action.
6. If you’re still resisting what is, try to let go of the grip your mind has on whatever it is that’s troubling you. Often when I let go of my mind’s trajectory and come back into the now, I feel a sense of release. We really don’t have to stay in that space of stress, unhappiness and resistance.
7. Try reading uplifting books or blogs regularly, or try other activities that raise your spirits and/or improve your ability to handle challenges in your life.
8. Actively look for things around you to be grateful for. A daily gratitude practice (on your own or even texting/emailing with a partner) can be very helpful.
9. Notice if you’re holding resentment or anger against others or yourself. Remember we’re all unique and human, in various places on our life journey, and on different levels of learning. Practicing compassion by allowing ourselves and others to be where we are at present contributes to peace in our lives. We may still take action, but we’ll act with more kindness and wisdom.
10. Try to focus more on what you’re giving to the world rather than worrying about what’s coming back to you. We can’t control everything going on outside of us, but giving the best we can to others and situations is up to us.
11. Ask for support if you need it. We all need help sometimes, so don’t hesitate to ask trusted friends, family or professionals. We can learn a lot from other perspectives.
Here are affirmations that may be helpful reminders:
I look to the future for practical purposes such as planning and goal-setting, and I can learn from and enjoy memories of the past. I have no need to dwell in the future or the past if it doesn’t contribute to my happiness. Life happens in the now.
I welcome what’s appearing in the present moment with kindness, including my emotions. The situation is as it is, no matter how much my mind might resist. I take action if necessary and possible, then I allow the present to be.
I speak and act kindly to myself and others. We’re all human with different backgrounds, personalities, and levels of learning, and that’s okay.
I concentrate on giving all I can to the world rather than focusing mainly on results.