We all know people who are uncomfortable being in silence next to someone. Heck a lot of us can’t take being alone with ourselves in silence! Personally, I have always struggled with keeping my mind quiet. My racing mind has led to an anxious state that feeds on itself. If you have anxiety issues, you know the pure hell this can be.
One of the things I figured out through walking the Camino de Santiago was how to stay present; how to quiet your mind while still keeping it busy. Sounds like a contradiction, right? Hear me out.
First, let me say that the reason many of the relaxation techniques that ask you to clear your mind don’t work is because — it is contrary to what the mind was sent here to do! It thinks.
So, I reasoned if you give it something to keep it busy but also in the present, you can calm down your anxiety, answer the real important questions, stay focused and gee whiz just be a more successful human being overall 😉
Here’s my revolutionary 😉 new 3 step process for when your mind is going haywire:
- Don’t try (to solve the problem, to lower the anxiety, to do anything to fix anything)
- Trust (yourself that your mind is capable of finding the answer, it doesn’t need you to whack a board over it 16000 times, it needs some space to heal and let something bubble up)
- Notice (every smell, feeling, object, person, place and thing around you and without judgement say what it is quietly to yourself – this keeps your mind busy in a useful way because it keeps you present and distracts you long enough from mulling that you can calm down)
I am not a medical doctor so I can’t prescribe, but I can tell you that as someone who has suffered with anxiety her whole life, doing these three things, I have noticed my anxiety lowering and at times even disappearing as I practice. I more easily find answers because my mind and body are in the right place (in the present and low in anxiety),
This also works when you start making all those damn lists in your head.
Bring your phone, a notepad, whatever you need to just dump those out of your head. They are just keeping you stranded in no-can-do-land. Then ask yourself REALLY what MUST be done RIGHT NOW! Sometimes, we get so caught up in our list of things to do that we imagine everything we think of is top priority. Sometimes when we slow down and get quieter, we realize that it is not that important and often we find a better way.
You know I love examples, so here it goes…
I was supposed to go to the post office today, but I realized that I forgot my wallet, so I came home and had 1/2 hr to grab my wallet and head over there. Then I thought – why am I rushing? IS there a deadline? No. There wasn’t. So, I said “tomorrow I’ll go on the way to the gym”. Then, I ran into my mail carrier near my house and asked him if he carries any postage on his truck that I could buy and send out my packages. He said, no, but reminded me that I can use the Click-n-Ship option from the comfort of my own home and order a pickup for free. This is what I mean. Sometimes, we even save ourselves time and find a more convenient option when we slow down. The alternative would have been standing in line with a bunch of other people who were also in a rush and anxious AND I would have paid $1.10 more than online.
Ok. Bringing it all back together. I notice that I feel better and I interact better with people when I calm my anxiety, when I stop acting busier than the president of the United States, when I really stop and ask myself how important something really is? When people talk to me, I really listen to what they have to say. I enjoy their company more. And you know what? Not having my phone buzzing or rejecting a call when I am spending time with a friend, makes them feel better about the time they spend with me too. It lets them relax and open up more. But wait there’s more!@? I get MORE done from list AND feel better about it. Quite honestly everybody gets more out of the quiet time I take for myself.
I am not only grateful for the quiet, I have reconnected with my need for that daily self-reflection. I gave up on that part of me somewhere along life’s way. I remember being that way as a very young child. I liked being quiet and thinking up my new inventions or ideas. I liked the creativity that came from the silent pauses between the notes in my life. I’ve recently rediscovered this part of me – which happens to be at the very core of who I am – and I’m completely unwilling to abandon her ever again.
And maybe this is for another post, but it makes me think…who could wonder why I’ve always felt anxiety or depression? I ignored a core part of who I knew myself to be in favor of trying to be who everyone thought I was because it was more “acceptable”. One day, even that persona was not good enough. That’s what broke me open.
I am grateful for the quiet most especially because it brought my voice back.
With gratitude from aneternaltraveler 😉