Decluttering your brain is one of the most healing things you can do in these information-overkill times. ‘To ponder’ should not be a lost art. It is when the mind glimpses signs and stories beyond our current limitations, beyond time to a realm best-known as eternity. It enables us to pause, appreciate and be awash in gratitude.
But before we get there, there are things to be done which would ease and free the mind and heart. Being to well-being: Completing little tasks is breathing meditation. We literally ‘allow the breath to enjoy itself,’ as Thich Nhat Hanh describes it so evocatively. When the quality of our breathing improves, our body relaxes along with the mind. It greatly elevates the quality of our life — from being to well-being.
Brooding and worrying make the face hot, the scalp tight. My friend Muku, a healer, tells me her buzzword for 2021 is ‘I deserve’. Yes, you deserve all that’s good in life. So, please break the inertia you may find yourself in.
Snap your fingers. Move out of the space you’re in — physically. Blow that brooding energy out in short, quick bursts or long, slow exhalations. Go to the basin and wash your face, rinse your mouth in cool water. Look kindly… look in the mirror and you’ll see this dear, familiar face. Let love arise… look at yourself gently, kindly. Psychologists say we are always trying to merge what we perceive from the outside world with the perception of the inside world. We try to adjust the two perceptions — that is, our central nervous system comprising the brain and spinal cord is constantly adjusting with the external world. This attempt is felt as distress or calmness, sometimes numbness.
To reduce or ease the stress, we need to cut off or change what the mind is paying attention to. Sleep rests the brain and nervous system circuits. Listening to soothing music helps immensely too. When the constant perception-adjusting mechanism is given a break, peace reigns.
The nervous system is in an adjusting and reflexive mode practically 24/7. A few aids regulate it and make the going easier:
* Take decisions. Don’t let things hang in the air. Should I invest in these stocks? Should I not invest? Should I inform my colleagues? Should I not? When you take a decision, it means it is done and over with. There is no need to be constantly adjusting, hovering. You are on course and, boy! that’s a relief.
* Mix up tasks. Make a flowchart of activities. Have a masterly mix of things you like to do with things you don’t like to do. Congratulate yourself after each task is done — it warms up the brain. Dopamine, popularly known as the reward chemical because it rises when you feel you’ve achieved something, is a great declutterer. It pushes away the alertness chemical norepinephrine which when too high can cause jitters and unnecessary stress.
* Treasure your alone-time. It is not for nothing that the wise-like Mohanji tell us, ‘we are the completion we are looking for.’ We are. Which also explains why psychology has discovered what creative people knew all along — that we are at our best when alone. Being by ourselves keeps our mind clear with no outside interference. When we don’t have to be in the social-niceties zone of smiling, nodding, replying, explaining, defending or offering tea, our brain is able to make all kinds of free associations and come up with a solution perfectly suited for our constitution and disposition. As Mohanji puts it, ‘when we contemplate on our own, we come to terms with our doubts, fears and situation. Then we do little things, drop some old habits…’
* Dispense with details. Some people are very particular about small details — the pleat, the angle, the whatever-it-is has to be exactly right. It’s great to be so focused but it can also mire you in a whole lot of inconsequential things. It’s like literally hoarding garbage lest you need it. Result: you feel you are up against a wall, you can’t proceed or progress; in short, you’re stuck. Here it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself: Am I being too detail-oriented? Use some reasoning, logic or even some urgency. You leave a trail of empty ice cream cups behind and walk towards your dreams.
* Decant emotions. These are tough times. Many people have lost their jobs, some have lost their loved ones. How do we decant fear, anger, grief? Into journals, says psychologists. Writing helps you vent where you can begin to perceive a reassuring order in your chaotic feelings. It is also important to know that carrying frustration or any harmful emotion around is carrying a hazardous chemical in a fragile body. When we know and understand, it becomes easier to take measures. Somewhere in us, we have to also cognise that grief is a process we have to go through and that it’s okay not to be fine, even more so, when the wounds are fresh.
I learnt this from a wonderful lady, a senior citizen who lost her spouse. She said, initially, the beauty of nature around helped her cope for a few days. And later, when a friend told her gently, ‘it’s okay not to be fine,’ she broke down and cried out all her sadness in his arms. She says though we tend to say ‘I’m fine, I’m managing,’ it’s healing to also admit to your sadness and give way to tears. The soul needs to know what it feels like to be human. The day doesn’t dim but it generously holds our sorrows as willingly as it holds our laughter.
* Change the cycle. Do things that feel as familiar, comforting and reassuring as a sunrise. Change the cycle of grief or hopelessness to a cycle of strength and stability. Some suggestions:
Clear the decks — put away files and books, fold clothes, wash a few dishes, water the plants… doing things with your hands grounds and heals you.
Get into a healing zone — a bit of cardiovascular exercise like walking or cycling creates new life in a tired body and mind. Eating vegetables, cereals and pulses fills an inner emptiness and brings on a reassuring relaxation. Rest and sleep are wonderfully comforting practices. Have Vitamin C daily to boost your immunity. Look out for heartwarming news, happenings, little signs that things are good or returning to normalcy. It’s a send-off to the past and a welcome to the present and future, a send-off to old memories with respect and love and a welcome to a new way of being in a new world.
The laughing woman. A new-world parable goes: A woman was admired for always laughing. A passerby asked her curiously, ‘why do you laugh all the time?’ The woman said, ‘I’m enjoying my life because things are going the way I planned.’ A few days later, all the woman’s possessions were stolen. Yet, she was still laughing. Another passer-
by asked curiously, ‘why do you laugh all the time?’ And the woman said, ‘I’m enjoying my life because things aren’t going the way I planned!’
Live light. As screenwriter Gene Roddenberry said, ‘It isn’t all over, everything has not been invented, the human adventure is just beginning.’
The writers are authors of Fitness for Life and Simply Spiritual – You Are Naturally Divine and teachers of the Fitness for Life programme.