Mind Management 101: It’s About Both WHAT You Think and HOW You Think It.
Studies have long established that there is a hidden connection between our personal thoughts and the way they come to manifest physically in our lives over time.
For instance, negative emotions can have a huge bearing on our physical health. Aside from the way we act and project ourselves, it may be possible that we make ourselves susceptible to certain illnesses due to the long-term, biological effects of chronic mental and emotional states. Indeed, increased stress has been proven to have a significant impact on our physical and mental health.
So how do we deal with all this?
The Answer: Mind Management
Mind management is a mindfulness technique that allows you to step back and re-examine your thoughts. It acknowledges that our psychology has plenty to do with our physiology, and that our physical and mental wellbeing are inevitably intertwined.
In mind management, we take each heavy, negative thought and reframe it in a manner that produces more motivational and productive output.
However, this is easier said than done. Plenty of distractions present themselves in our day-to-day lives, which may veer our minds off the ability to closely monitoring our inner thoughts.
Here are a few questions you should ask yourself, along with tips on how to step back and focus on managing your mind:
Is what you’re thinking necessary?
Plenty of stress comes from people’s fixation with the future and the possible heartaches it holds for them.
Thankfully, mindfulness, of which mind management is a subset of, practices removing oneself from the worries of the future and grounding oneself in the now.
Mindfulness Tip: Focus on the now.
Again, easier said than done.
So how, exactly, do you do it?
There are a number of different methods, but one of the most effective is dropping everything you’re currently doing – work, school, even your gadgets – and focusing on yourself.
One of the most common ways this is accomplished is through meditation. That is, you sit in a cross-legged position, or any position with proper posture, rest your hands on your lap, close your eyes, and breathe.
Take note that you need to really focus on your breath and let your intrusive thoughts and any outside sounds come and go as they will, without attaching yourself to them. At the same time, however, it is necessary not to beat up on yourself if you find you’re getting distracted. Doing so is, as Eckhart Tolle has said, “a ‘no’ on top of a ‘no'”. Just notice it all and let it show up and pass along, as it will.
Are your thoughts healthy, or are they negative and fearful?
When you do think about the now, evaluate whether your thoughts are positive and healthy or if they’re causing you yet another round of unnecessary stress by being negative and fearful.
Some of the most common negative thoughts include questioning why you haven’t achieved something, fixating on what you do not have, or thinking about things that went ‘wrong’ in the past.
Mindfulness Tip: Allot Time To Clear Your Mental Clutter
Believe it or not, finding the time to clear up your mental clutter isn’t actually that difficult. It doesn’t have to be any more than thirty minutes – in fact, it can be as few as three minutes everyday. Just remind yourself, daily, to wedge in at least a few of those moments in your schedule.
If you’re one who feels more motivated in a structured environment, try signing up for meditation classes. While some of us are given to the private pursuit of such things, other personality types swear by group settings and/or personal instruction from a professional. Figure out what works best for you.
Can You think about the same thing in a joyful, or at least neutral, manner?
Ok, so you simply can’t help having these negative thoughts. You always find yourself coming full circle to all of your fearful concerns.
Don’t get discouraged!
Mindfulness is one of the most challenging undertakings we are capable of as human beings, so remember, even the smallest progress is momentous.
A good strategy to combat these negative thoughts is to reframe your mindset and see if it’s possible to think about the same incident, person, etc in a positive light.
This isn’t about denial–you already know, probably all too well, the negative aspects of whatever it is you can’t stop thinking about. But there are myriad angles to every event (not to mention humans) that we fail to perceive, due to our incessant, default perspective.
See if you can do this: think around these things in a lateral way, from the perspective of someone else, or possibly even entirely objectively, and see if it doesn’t change things.
Mindfulness Tip: List Your Goals
Having specific goals you want to reach, and outlining the steps you want to get there, can be extremely helpful in developing a positive mindset.
During your mind management time at home or in a class, think of something that you really want to do. It doesn’t have to be a long-term goal. It can be one single thing or a short-term day-to-day list. Also, include daily tasks that you may not regard as important–simply preparing breakfast and doing the dishes, or getting the kids off to school on time.
Not only is checking things off this list extremely satisfying (even if it’s only one thing), it also helps give you a feeling of accomplishment and progress, which in turn produces positive emotions. Keep yourself grounded by remembering that the small, everyday goals many of us take for granted are indeed accomplishments, and that, even with the bigger stuff, as they say, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’.
The Takeaway: Manage the Mind, Manage the Body
Overall wellness can only be achieved if we truly invest time in all parts of our body–what so many people seem to forget is that this includes our mind! This powerful center of our being can sometimes get so weighed down by negativity and stress that it sabotages our physical health and our relationships with others, not to mention our life goals. Avoid that scenario by learning to manage your mind in a manner that works for you.