A few years ago I made a decision to “spring clean” my mind on a regular basis. Unless we are holy monks or enlightened, most of us have patterns of thinking and habits that clutter our minds and interfere with our sense of well-being.
Which tools can I use?
There are many methods of healing emotional issues or releasing patterns that limit the expression of our fullest potential. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnotherapy, and mindfulness are a few examples.
My daily practice preference is mindful living, as it blends well with psychology because both sciences encourage being observant of our thoughts and emotions without judging and thinking in new ways.
Four years ago, I signed up for eight weeks of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), which helped me to start releasing habits and patterns of thinking that were creating anxiety. I experienced an unexpected hearing loss that year, and this triggered a sense of fear that would suddenly flare up. The therapist found that I had a positive mindset, but working with a therapist added clarity to my understanding of my emotional blocks and gave me the motivation to be proactive with my internal changes.
Steps to declutter the mind:
Just as we may get rid of clutter every spring by cleaning our closets and home to let in air, freshness, and new beginnings, the following six steps are helpful in decluttering and renewing our minds:
1. Forgive and let go of resentments.
We have heard of the power of forgiveness, but it’s worth repeating: Clinging to negative thoughts and feelings over something that happened 20 years ago affects the health of the body. The mind and body are connected. Stomach issues are a good example. When we experience ongoing anxiety due to negative thinking or too much stress, the stomach often produces excess acid.
2. Release emotions.
Cry and let your emotions out (without dumping them on others). After releasing your feelings, don’t awfulize — think of worst-case scenarios. The mind is powerful; what we believe, we become. Expecting and visualizing the worst is a misuse of imagination.
Being open to solutions, using affirmations in the present tense, such as “I am healed,” “I am empowered,” and “I have clarity of mind,” helps to move your focus away from the limitations of a negative frame of mind.
3. Take a break from the news.
Take a break from the news and bombarding your mind and energy with negativity, and instead, fill your space (and mind) with music, hobbies, and media programs that uplift you.
Watching negative news is not good for emotional health or creativity. Studies by a British psychologist, Dr. Graham Davey, who specializes in the psychological effects of media violence, have shown that consuming negative news may contribute to the tendency to catastrophize, and the development of stress, anxiety and depression.
However, if you feel the need to watch the news so you can be aware of what is going on in the world and help, then look at the news consciously, with a sense of purpose and spiritual awareness. Once there is understanding that what is going on in the world is a reflection of the mass consciousness of humanity, it becomes a spiritual opportunity to observe our reactions and see wherein we need to do inner-work so we can better contribute to the world by our evolution and healing. As Gandhi said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
4. Don’t take life for granted.
Life is a gift, and we live in alignment with creation when we use life in a way that honors the planet, all living creatures, and ourselves. See all sentient beings as sacred expressions of creation. How can it be otherwise? We all share the same life force that animates our bodies, but we all express this energy uniquely by the choices we make.
When we learn to live with reverence for life, we obtain an almost mystical connection to the wonders of the universe and a profound sense of gratitude for the blessings in our lives.
5. Take a break from the noise in your head.
In the busiest of households, it’s important to carve a little space and time to be by ourselves. It can be in nature, a chapel, a particular spot in your home such as the bathroom, or even the car. What is important is to find the time to be silent mentally, watching your breath flow in and out serenely. In the silence, you will touch a deeper level of your being that knows only peace.
Being silent affects the health of our brains because we shift from the left side of our brain, which controls linear thinking, to the right side, which is the intuitive, creative, and relaxed side of the brain.
6. Above all, look at love as a state of being.
Love is misunderstood to be an emotion; actually, it is a state of awareness, a way of being in the world, a way of seeing oneself and others. – Dr. David R. Hawkins
We do not need to feel the emotion of love as when we feel love for our life partner, a child, or a pet. Instead, by keeping our hearts open and embodying compassion, empathy, grace, and joy, we spiritually and emotionally encourage balanced interactions with the world.
These steps, when applied consistently, will help to lighten the energy of our minds and hearts, and will contribute in shifting our perceptions from fear to seeing the universe as friendly, expansive, and supportive of our journey.