Bind your Mind: Discovering Peace in the Midst of Stress

Life is stressful.

There is always an interview, a presentation, a trip, a to-do list, an illness, a difficult boss, a fractured friendship, unkind words, forgiveness that seems to stretch our ability to grant and now simmers below the surface of our smile.

Does it seem that your stress outweighs your peace?

Our bookshelves, Kindles, and podcast apps are littered with advice.

Brene Brown says we should divulge our vulnerability.

Marie Kondo says we should declutter our spaces and our lives.

Oprah and Dr. Phil say,  “Name it to claim it”.  Claim happiness. Then go out and serve, read, exercise, and eat delicious food.   (And we have to admit Oprah looks mighty happy on her monthly magazine covers!)

Abraham Lincoln said,   “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”

The Bible too offers advice, though not the self-help kind, more the God-help kind.  The apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian church,

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  (Philippians 4:8)

I agree with all of the above.  But how to bind my wayward mind in order to attain peace?  Here are my top six practices.

-Make time to meditate.  Here’s a 3-minute  breathing technique

-Focus on one-step living.  All you have is this very moment.

-Forget the “C” word.  Relinquish CONTROL  Ride the waves of life in the hand of God which could be the safest place to be.

-Follow Oprah’s advice and serve others.  Perhaps write a note (who does that these days??).  Go to Compassion International and select a child to sponsor.

-Pray in a palms-up; palms-down manner.  Are you worried about a wayward child, an upcoming social event, an unfriendly bathroom scale, or a scary test result on the horizon?  Turn up your palms and mentally place your concerns there, pray over them, then turn your palms downward.  I believe a power greater than any you could ever muster wants to carry your burdens.  (How do I know?  He is holding my own tears and redeeming my own sadness, even as I write this.)

-Give your mind a stern lecture.  Sing a song that makes you happy.  Name your gratitudes.  Check out a new recipe.  Declutter just one teeny weeny drawer.

 

Eleanor Roosevelt said,

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

 

OK, Mind, you have your marching orders for today.  Dream big; find beauty, and don’t let stress get the upper hand.

You’ve got this, Oh Mind of Mine.

 

 

Today’s Takeaway:

-Claiming happiness sounds great.  But really, it’s all about Doing Happiness.  Hey Mind, are you listening?  Get over yourself and make that call; try that recipe; sing.  Splurge on a new face cream or a nice bottle of red.

-Channel Eleanor Roosevelt.  A life well lived amid stress we cannot imagine.  Here’s her book on 11 keys to a more fulfilling life.

 

Enjoy the Ride!

xox

Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my grandmother’s trunk, I packed a…

Remember that memory game where each person adds to the accumulation in Grandma’s trunk?

My friend, Mary Rose, offered this advice as I prepared for a trip, “Don’t forget to pack your love, joy, and peace.”

My suitcase brims with such each morning.  But come evening, reflecting on the day gone by, I note a lack of love, a shortage of peace, and questionable joy.  My suitcase has snuck in self-promotion and a loose tongue, partly the result of one too many glasses of wine.

So with time at a premium for us Baby Boomers, join me in packing a trunk focused on love, joy, and peace.

Many faith practices entail prayer rituals exercised three times a day.  How about setting our phones to remind us to pause periodically for a moment of gratitude, or simply an acknowledgement of surrender, a look outside of ourselves?

Amy Morin in Psychology Today writes about 7 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude.

We will sleep better, have higher levels of self-esteem, enjoy deeper relationships, and experience satisfaction with life. In short, there will be more love, joy, peace.

“We all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate gratitude. Rather than complain about the things you think you deserve, take a few moments to focus on all that you have. Developing an “attitude of gratitude” is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life.”

In my grandmother’s trunk I packed –

Gratitude, Love, Peace, Joy

And a timely cell phone reminder to get over myself.

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-Psychology Today also tells us that gratitude helps us stop comparing ourselves to others.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

-Hey Loose Tongue, why not spurt out a compliment or two.  The sincere kind.  It wouldn’t kill you!

 

Enjoy the Ride!  We are grateful for YOU!

xox

Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

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Meditation and the Monkey Mind

I (Barclay) downloaded an app called “Insight Timer” which offers 400,000 meditations.  Where to begin?

Then I noticed they had a course called “Learn How to Meditate in Seven Days” which sounded doable.

Day 1: The timer is set for 10 minutes.  A woman’s voice, slow and monotoned, tells me to breathe in through my nose and exhale through my mouth.  Feel your tummy rise with each inhale. After a bit, I peek at the timer.  7 minutes left. My phone says enough-of-this and beeps a reminder to put the laundry in the dryer – which I do.

Day 2:  The woman suggests we “explore the mind”.  Let your thoughts drift past, she says. Watch them but don’t attend to them.  Wait! What’s that? An ant scurrying for cover. If I don’t nab it, word will spread to other ants.  Good-bye Ant.  And good-bye morning meditation.

On Day 7  I mute the voice.

So there’s this thing called the Monkey Mind that Psychology Today suggests is our inner critic.

“It’s the part of your brain most connected to the ego, which contends that you can’t do anything right. It’s also the part of you that stifles creativity and prevents you from moving forward with your passions. The monkey mind insists on being heard, and sometimes it takes a lot of self-control to shut it down. It is also the part of your brain that becomes easily distracted, so if you want to get anything done in life, your challenge will be to shut down the monkey mind.”

For some of us, this is near impossible.  I think my mind is more elephantine than monkey.  My thoughts are constantly racing-what medicare  plan should I take when I turn 65, what should I make for dinner, what if my children never get married, will I have enough money if I live to 90!!-just to be clear-Joy chiming in here.

They say that to tame our monkey mind we need to practice ……..wait for it……mindfulness.  A buzz word that’s lived its full 15 minutes of fame.  (Wouldn’t you just love to coin the next buzz word or phrase that means exactly the same thing??)

But that said, we should give mindfulness its due especially in tackling a monkey mind that’s bent on hijacking our meditation.

Author, Marelisa Fabrega, offers practical suggestions at her website, Daring to Live Fully.)

Let your monkey mind “run amok” for 10 minutes a day, she says.  Journal your thoughts.  Then if the MM starts up again, you tell it,

“Your session for today is over. Wait until tomorrow’s session. I’ll listen to you then.” Soon, your monkey mind will realize that it’s completely futile to make a fuss at any time other than during your journaling sessions.

We should also question our MM.  When it raises a grievance, ask why it’s upset.  Counter your MM’s points using the ABC method.

Day 8:  I am breathing to the count of 4, holding for 4, exhaling for 4.  I have the sound of a babbling brook on my phone.  My Monkey Mind tells me that I am late in paying a bill, but I ignore it.  5 minutes passes.  Victory.

Clearly, I won’t be hosting a seminar on meditation any time soon.

But hey, it’s a start!

Today’s Takeaway:

-Set apart time for daily reflection and meditation – whatever duration and practice is right for you.

-Let’s put some serious thought into inventing the next buzz word to replace “mindfulness”.  Just think of the best sellers we will write and the talk shows we will grace!!

Enjoy the ride!

Ommmmmm…..

xox Barclay and Joy