Life can get pretty hectic, even for the best of us. We live in a busy society, and a lot of people find themselves pressed for time. We’re relentlessly pursued by deadlines, meetings, social obligations, and responsibilities that can make us so busy that we end up wondering how we’ll possibly have time to do everything!
Having worries weighing on your mind is just another thing that makes you feel pressured. It’s a vicious circle − being busy makes you stressed, which makes you feel more busy, which adds to the stress, ad infinitum. Fortunately, stress doesn’t need to bog you down.
There are many ways of dealing with stress. You might try making lifestyle changes, switching jobs, or adjusting your routine, which can all be great steps in the right direction. What you might not be aware of is that you can lower − if not totally eliminate − your stress without having to so much as get out of your chair.
How can I clear my mind?
There are lots of different ways to clear your mind and reduce stress and anxiety. Therapeutic methods like counseling and psychotherapy can be effective in extreme cases, but aren’t usually necessary if you’re simply suffering from a mind that won’t shut up. Before you think about calling up your therapist, try these alternative techniques.
Meditation is one of the oldest methods of eliminating stress and worry. It’s a skill that takes a lot of focus and concentration but which, with the appropriate dedication, can produce amazing results. Buddhist monks and other spiritual folk have been using meditation for millennia to keep their minds still and their focus sharp.
Clearing your mind with breathing techniques
Yes − most meditations involve breath work. In fact, proper breathing is so important to the practice of meditation that some say breathing is the foundation for any meditation, and that if your breath isn’t controlled, then you won’t perform properly.
Controlling your breath
The simplest method of using your breath to calm your mind is also the most basic breathing technique used in meditation − controlling your breath.
This sounds simple, but it’s a very difficult (and rewarding) task to master. Completely following your breath allows you a level of focus and awareness that is so complete that your mind won’t have the opportunity to bring up thoughts and worries. The following guidelines should be applied to most, if not all, breathing techniques.
- To begin, inhale very slowly and very deeply.
- Count slowly to ten for the duration of your inhalation.
- Feel your shoulders rise as your breath fills your lungs.
- At this point you’ll be about halfway through your breath.
- Continue inhaling until you feel your entire abdomen expand with air (if it hurts or you feel uncomfortable, stop and try again, more gently).
- Exhale, very slowly, to a count of ten.
The goal of this practice is to feel, hear, and sense every aspect of your breathing, both subtle and obvious. Your breath is the key link between your body and your mind: an unconscious, fluid motion that continues with or without your active input. Directing all your attention to your breathing prevents your mind from wandering to other topics that you might worry about.
Controlling your breath isn’t just the most common breathing technique, it’s also the baseline for all other breathing techniques. They all require controlled breath.
There are other breathing techniques you can use to calm your mind.
Breathing mantras are great ways to improve yourself. During a breathing mantra, follow your breath as you would during the previous exercise. Instead of counting to ten, think of a mantra that suggests self-improvement. These could include:
- I will not worry.
- I will not be anxious.
- My mind will be clear.
- I am focused.
These − or, indeed, any mantras − can be repeated once or as many times as you like during each inhalation, and again on each exhalation. They will sink into your subconscious and help you improve yourself. As you gain skill at following your breathing, you may find that your mind clears so perfectly that even the mantra can’t be heard, and you’ll be living in complete awareness.
This is a great practice that can immediately change your life, especially if you have worries or stress related to back pain. Doing breathing exercises in the morning puts your mind in a state of focus that enables you to think clearly and quickly throughout the day.
This nearly effortless breathing technique could change your life!
- Stand with your back straight and your feet together.
- Inhale for a count of five while slowly raising your arms straight above your head.
- Exhaling for a count of five, bend forward from your hips, allowing a slight bend in your knees.
- With your arms dangling, inhale and exhale for five seconds each. You should feel a stretch in your spinal cord. At this point, you can slowly move your neck from side to side to loosen it.
- Repeat the process five times.
You can use any breathing mantras you want with your morning breathing. This is a great way to embed positive affirmations into your subconscious for the day.
Doing a breathing exercise before you even reach for your first cup of coffee will reaffirm that you’re capable of clarity and independence. This technique could even replace your morning coffee, since it fights off brain fog and clears your mind to the point that worry can’t squeeze in.
The mind is a beautiful thing, but it’s not flawless, and when it’s overworked, it can fall victim to stress and worry. Time spent taking care of your brain is not time wasted, as without a good mindset, life can quickly become very difficult very quickly.
Take the time to practise these techniques this week, you will feel altogether better for it.