By Tiani Dun
“Hold wonderful pictures in your mind’s eye” – Robin Sharma
Caring for our mental health has never been more vital. In fact, mindfulness is becoming trendy -it’s everywhere. People are meditating all the time -at home, in the garden, on buses, trains, in lectures, in the library -it appears to me that no time nor place is unfit for a little introspection.
But in all seriousness, mindfulness is a way we can survive in this new world of social separation. So here’s a couple of reasons why you should get out your yoga mats and sit with yourself, alone, for a few minutes per day:
Did you know: That the average person thinks around 60,000 thoughts per day?
Did you know: That around 95% of these are the same thoughts as yesterday’s?
This slight glitch in human functioning has led to the great, widespread impoverished thinking in our new world. Look around you. We sit inside boxes, separated from the natural world we were born into. We wear clothes and shoes on our feet which further shield ourselves from our environment -the Earth, our home. And now I’m starting to sound like a hippie, but can you see where I’m coming from?
A majority of people still think that they need to live by these “rules” imbedded into our minds by society. These rules advocate mindless consumption -of clothes, food, alcohol, cigarettes, and where have these social norms led us? To forests cleared faster than they can ever be restored, to mountains of rubbish in our oceans, rivers, and freshwater streams.
Even more worrisome, is that an uncannily large proportion of humans still act as though “global warming” were a myth, like a deity we can either choose to or choose not to believe in.
We have polluted our minds just as we have contaminated our seas and our atmosphere. Of 60,000 thoughts per day, a large proportion of these can be unproductive or negative, particularly when faced with dire circumstances. With around 57,000 of the same thoughts as yesterday’s, it’s almost too easy for our attentions to cascade downhill. What may begin as a bad Monday may shortly develop into a Friday of wallowing in a deep pool of grief and self-pity.
We are captives of our own minds, and if we don’t stimulate them, they act as a broken record replaying the same loops. And these cycles can certainly lead us to some dangerous places.
But imagine if everybody took 10 minutes per day to reflect upon their actions. To think about what made them feel good, and what made them feel not so good. We may start to notice that what makes us feel good is often fresh food, fresh air and fresh sunshine. We may also notice that indulging in unnecessary gossip, or binge watching that new show ’90 Day Fiancé’ didn’t feel quite so fulfilling.
We are either limited by our thoughts, or we can harness them in a way to set us free. Meditation is a way we can train our minds to focus on being present and reflect upon our feelings. We may begin to see that our moods do not necessarily need to govern our actions, that we can gain control over our minds -as a rider does his horse.
A good rider will train his horse each day, will care for it and patiently watch it grow. Similarly, our minds are our horses that carry us through our realities. Through quiet contemplation, we can take the reins over our horse rather than let it run free or trample all over us.
Further, we can recount upsetting events and feel uncomfortable feelings from a safe distance. Instead of being inside the feelings, watch them come, and watch them go. Moods are often like clouds passing. Sometimes it’s stormy, and sometimes it’s sunny. But the sky is always there.
Your mind is like your garden. Imagine that good thoughts, supported by good people, are like spreading water and sunshine over your plants. Meanwhile, negative thoughts are like throwing a bucket of toxic waste over your precious garden bed.
Gatekeep your garden from negative thoughts. Have the courage to delete the negativity in your life, and surround yourself with humans who will help you to learn and grow into the best version of yourself. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and make you think.
Do you want your garden to be full of weeds, or do you want it to blossom with flowers?