Today, Im going to be revealing how to clear your mind with meditation and mindfulness.
If you follow this guide you will end up with a clear mind that makes you feel calm and aware.
So, what does it mean to clear your mind?
Basically, we want our minds to be quiet and still so that we can live in the moment without getting lost in thoughts and feelings.
To make this happen, we need to be aware of three factors: Conscious awareness, mental phenomena, and reality.
When you understand how these three factors work and how they interact with each other, you will know how to clear your mind whenever you want to relax.
How To Clear Your Mind – The 3 Factors
There are three factors that affect your state of mind:
1: Your conscious awareness. This is at the absolute centre of your mind. It is your awareness.
2: Mental phenomena. These are the processes that occur in your mind. For instance, your thoughts, emotions, and beliefs.
3: Reality. The world around you, as well as your own physical form.
At any given time you have a combination of all three of these factors. You are consciously aware, you have thoughts and feelings, and there is reality all around you.
Your conscious awareness is always pure. The very centre of your mind is clear. However, your thoughts and feelings, and your perception of reality are not pure. They are distorted. Specifically, they are distorted by one another.
What happens is this.
Your conscious awareness leads from the centre of your mind towards reality. However, your awareness passes through your thoughts and feelings. And your thoughts and feelings distort your view of reality.
Think about it like wearing a pair of glasses. Your emotions are like tinted glasses. If you wear, for instance, red tinted glasses, the world will appear red. Same with emotions. If you are sad, the world will appear to be a sad place, because your emotions are distorting your view of reality.
Thoughts work slightly differently.
Have you ever seen “Smartglasses”? They are glasses that use AI. They show you information about the objects you look at. Cool hey? But what if the information these glasses show you was wrong? This is what happens with thoughts.
Our thoughts process information about the outside world. However, that information is sometimes wrong, and almost always distorted to some degree. This occurs because of cognitive distortions. More on this later.
Not only do our thoughts and feelings affect our view of reality, but reality also influences our thoughts and feelings.
As information from the outside world enters the mind, it interacts with our thoughts and feelings, changing them. Maybe you were feeling quite happy about your body until you saw that Olympian running by. Yup, reality influences our thoughts, and often to our detriment.
Information from the outside world enters the mind where it lights-up certain neurons. Those neurons also communicate with other neurons that are thematically related to the information we are receiving.
Basically, if you see one thing, you think about other things related to it. If I mention work, you probably momentarily think about colleagues and other things related to your work.
All of this leads to a slew of information in the mind. And sometimes we are so overloaded with thoughts and feelings that our conscious awareness gets batted about all over the place until we are utterly lost.
Wow. Sounds a little hectic right? What are we going to do about it?
Well, thankfully there is a solution.
Clear Your Mind With Mindfulness & Meditation
So far, we have seen how our perspective of reality of distorted because of our thoughts and feelings, and how information from the outside world cause us to bring up certain thoughts. We’ve also seen how when we think one thought,we also experience numerous other thoughts that are thematically related to the initial thought.
Great. But how does this help us to clear our minds?
Well, there are certain key points that we can deduce from this information.
1: If the mind is already busy, we need to heavily reduce information from the outside world
2: We need to be conscious of the things we focus on
3: We need to organise things so that we limit the amount of “topic clusters” that we are exposed to (more on this later)
4: Mostly we want to reduce the interactions between external information and our thoughts.
Sounds hard, right? It really isnt.
Let me show you how you can clear your mind by reducing external information and thoughts. Then, I will show you the ultimate way to clear your mind: Meditation.
Clear Your Mind With Mindfulness
Now we understand why our minds get busy, we can see how to clear the mind.
Essentially the business of the mind is based on the interaction between information from the outside world, along with our thoughts, feelings, and other mental phenomena.
If you want to maintain a clear mind, you need to reduce information overload and give yourself time to process your thoughts and feelings.
The key is to be mindful. Let me show you how.
The following are vital skills and techniques for having a clear mind.
1: Be mindful of thoughts and feelings. When your mind starts to feel busy, reduce information intake. This will give you time to process your thoughts and feelings
Is your mind currently full of thoughts, feelings, memories and other mental phenomena? If so, be kind to yourself. Give yourself time to process your thoughts and feelings.
The best way to do this is to reduce information intake.
Spend a day (or however long you can) off the computer, off the cellphone, and off the TV. Go somewhere relaxing, like a park. And just sit. This will give your mind time to process your thoughts and feelings. And then you will be calm.
2: Remove the primary sources of information overload
One of the easiest ways to clear your mind is to get rid of sources of information overload.
By far the worst source of information overload is Mark Zuckerberg– excuse me, I mean Instagram and Facebook, along with other social media platforms.
Scientific American states that social media platforms deliberately create information overload. Why? Because when youre so overloaded with information you lose a lot of your conscious control. Your mind gets lost in the info, so that the only thing you can do is mindlessly keep scrolling.
It isn’t just social media though. Technology in general tends to be a course of information overload. Hence why we have terms like “Inbox Zero”, which refers to the relief we feel when we finally reach the end of our email inbox.
Sometimes other people can cause information overload too, whether it’s one person with an especially big mouth, or whether it’s because you simply see too many people (for instance if you work retail in a busy mall or work at the airport).
Find ways to cut down on information overload so your mind doesn’t fill up with needless thoughts.
3: Practise mindfulness habits and exercises
Mindfulness means focusing your mind 100% on what you are doing.
There are lots of mindfulness exercises.
You remember above when we discussed how information from the outside world mixes with your thoughts to create a busy mind? Well, that doesn’t happen when you deliberately focus 100% of your attention on a task. It doesn’t happen for two reasons. Firstly, you’re reducing the information that is entering your mind because you are only focusing on one thing. And secondly, you’re not engaging with your thoughts, so your thoughts don’t get all shook up, u-huh-huh (Elvis anyone?).
The good news is that there are a million and one things you can do mindfully:
- Brushing your teeth
- Eating (Mindful Eating is now a well established mental health exercise with many wonderful benefits)
- Walking (try Zen Walking, which is traditionally called Kinhin)
- Cleaning the dishes
- Any form of art
- Exercise, and especially Integrated Body Mind Training exercises like yoga and tai chi
- Sewing and cross-stitching
When you do these exercises, all you have to do is focus your mind 100% on what you are doing. This will reduce information overload and stop rumination.
And now time for the big one: Meditation.
How To Clear Your Mind With Meditation
You already know that you can clear your mind with meditation. But how does it work?
Essentially, there are three big reasons why meditation is a mind-clearer.
1: Because we focus on one thing during meditation, we massively reduce the volume of information entering the mind
2: We stop interacting with our thoughts, which gives them a chance to settle
3: By labeling our thoughts and feelings, we become less reactive to them (more on this in just a moment).
Although I teach many different techniques in my private meditation sessions, by far the best method for clearing your mind is Vipassana.
Let me show you how to do it.
1: Find somewhere quiet and relaxing where you will feel peaceful
Remember that we are meditating to clear our minds, and that to do this we want to reduce information from the outside world. That’s why we want to meditate privately somewhere quiet and relaxing.
Now, I understand that it can be hard to get away from it all and to find somewhere truly relaxing to sit. If you live in a noisy city it can be hard to find quiet, and if you live in an apartment you probably don’t have room for a dedicated meditation space.
Here are some ideas to help you out
- Wear comfortable headphones to reduce noise
- Turn off all tech (TV, phone, laptop etc.)
- If possible, create a special little spot where you can sit quietly to meditate
- Tell other people in your house that you will be meditating for 20 mins and that you’d appreciate it if they didn’t disturb you
- Get any necessary work or chores done before you start meditating
- Set the light to a peaceful level of brightness (not glaringly bright but not too dark either)
- If there’s just no way you can feel peaceful at home (hey, it happens, no worries), go to a public park
- You can also try meditating in front of a blank wall, as is done in Zazen (Zen meditation)
2: Sit with good posture
Sit comfortably. Traditionally, we
would do Vipassana meditation
technique with the legs crossed. But
many people cannotsit comfortably
in that position. No sweat. Justsit
comfortably with your back erect
but notstiff. Research showsthat
good posture improvesfocus.
You might also like to put your
handsin Gyan mudra. To do this, let
yourfingers extend out. Curl your
index fingers and thumbsso they
touch at the base. Place your hands
on yourthighs with the palms
3: Close your eyes
We usually close our eyesto
meditate. However, if you find that
you start to think more when you
close your eyes, you can opt to have
your eyes half open, focusing
downward. Thisisthe practice done
in Zen meditation.
4: Breathe and focus
Breathe in and focus on your
abdomen. Do not attempt to control
your breathing. Breathe in a relaxed
The breath serves as what Thich
Nhat Hanh calls an “anchor”. When
we focus on the breath, we stop
ourselvesfrom daydreaming and we
calm the “Monkey Mind”.
5: Help yourself to focus
You might struggle to maintain
focus. I used to when I wasjust
getting into meditation. And hey,
thatsfine. Sometimesit’s hard to
focusfor extended periods. If your
attention wanders, offer your mind
support. You can do this by saying
to yourself, “My breath isrising…
rising. Pausing. And now falling.”
Describing the movement of your
breath in this way will help you to
6: Be gentle with yourself
If your mind strays don’t judge
yourself, don’tsay “I’m not focusing
enough.” Remember, it’s all about
self-love. Though we try, it is
impossible to maintain focus 100%
of the time. Even the most advanced
meditators experience moments
when the mind strays. Simply guide
the mind back to the rising and
falling of your abdomen.
Patience and self love are the keys.
7: Label distractions
There will be occasions when a
specific noise draws your
awareness. Forinstance, if you are
sitting at home when the doorbell
rings, your mind will immediately
jump at the sound. Thisis one
example of an intrusive event. This
intrusive event luresthe mind. We
quickly lose focus and instead of
focusing on breathing, we pay
attention to the event. Again, thisis
naruralso dont worry.
When this happens, mindfully
observe the event and label it as a
sensation. Forinstance, if you hear a
doorbell, mindfully observe the
sound and label it “Sound.” This
helps your mind to recognise the
nature of externalstimuli. Having
observed and labeled the sensation,
return yourfocusto your breathing.
At times you will also notice
sensationsthat occurin the body.
Perhaps you feel an itch in yourlegs
ortingling at the back of your neck.
Label these sensations by
describing the way the sensation
feels. If you feel a warm air moving
over your wrist, forinstance,
mindfully observe thatsensation
and say, “warm movement.”
8: Label mental phenomena
Label mental phenomena like
thoughts and imaginings. For
instance, if you see an image in your
mind, label it “Mental image.”
Describe the precise reality of what
you perceive. If you imagine hearing
a sound,say “Imagined sound” and
so on. Thisistruly helpful. Many of
us get deceived by the mind. We
come to think that the things we see
and hearin the mind are real. Just
by saying “Mental image” or
“Imagined sound” you train your
mind to understand the true nature
of mental phenomena.
When you finish Vipassana, don’t
just open your eyes and snap back
to normality. Instead, open your
eyes gently. Tell yourself “Opening,
opening.” Then, when you begin to
choose what to do next,say
“Intending, intending”. Then slowly
and mindfully go about your day.
By practicing this meditation, and
the tipsin this guide, you will enjoy
a calm and clear mind the whole
Paul Harrison is a passionate meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison
#Clear #Mind #Meditation #Mindfulness
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