There's a saying that goes something like "Thoughts are like children. They are better in the backseat rather than driving the car". Most people's lives are driven by the random thoughts that pop into their heads. Most of these thoughts are not helpful and highly repetitive. Life is way easier when one takes back the steering wheel.
Here's five humble tips.
I chose five because last year when visiting Morocco I spent a day in an impoverished village outside of Marrakesh. No running water, no electricity but a whole lot of family and tradition. My dad thought I'd be kidnapped. He watches a lot of (Fox) news. What a gift it was for me to be welcomed into their homes and witness that at the core we believe in many of the same principles despite Western judgments of Muslim people. Five is a deeply meaningful number in the Muslim culture and we are kicking off with Judging...
1. Stop Judging.
Yourself and others. Think what happens when you judge. You are making another person right or wrong for thinking in a certain way, acting in a certain way, or looking in a certain way. When you act in judgement you are cutting yourself off.
Other people act as mirrors for our inner reality. What bothers me in another is just a reflection of what bothers me about myself.
Like many of you, my harshest critic is my inner critic. Recent studies have shown that performance increases not when we beat others/ourselves up for a shortfall or remember a time of failure but when we remember a time of success. Stop judging yourself and you will naturally stop judging others.
The mind is like an animal or child, the more you try to control it the more it will resist. The more you try to ignore a thought the more power you give it. Surrender. Simply accept the fact your mind is like a bouncing ball for this moment. The simple act of surrender removes the sense of powerlessness replacing it with peace.
Stop focusing on your own cr*p and think about someone else. Just for a moment. Then you are welcome to go back to obsessing about your "do or die" problem (which probably isn't seeing much progress anyways from your repetitive thinking).
Focus on someone else. A friend, your mom, a colleague.
To be of service you need do little more than be present for that person in conversation. Listen. Really listen. Listen with your mind, body, and heart. If you have never listened with your heart then you have never felt compassion and that's no way to live life.
If your truly engaged with the other your own thoughts (ie problems) will disappear. By taking the energy and focus off your own thoughts, instead offering that energy and focus in service of another, you dispel the power of repetitive thinking.
This life stuff is not meant to be that serious! If it's all serious with you then you're not doing it right (and you probably sense that).
Recall what you liked to do as a kid then do more of it. Your mind will naturally switch off during this activity. You'll begin to remember to trust in being not thinking.
If you are up for the Colgate challenge try bringing a sense of fun to an otherwise mundane task in your day. This will teach you that your thoughts are highly malleable and super subjective!
The best trick to get those kids (ie thoughts) out of the driver seat and in the back seat where they belong is meditation.
I always smile when people tell me their mind is too busy for meditation. That's like an alcoholic saying they can't go in to recovery because they drink too much. . If your mind is that busy then you need it the most. Have some faith people :)
For beginners I always recommend Eckhart Tolle's 10 minute guided meditation (free on YouTube)
I'm churning out a lot of blogs these days whilst my company (www.digitalshoppingchannel.com) closes its beta for go live. I'd love to hear your suggestions!