It’s very good, very healing to have a mental detox; it’s just that many of us don’t know how to go about it. Besides, if you are already mentally exhausted, even the mere idea of a detox feels tiring and you want to ignore it. You want to be left alone and rightly so. Recently, my sister Shobha told me, “Sometimes, the best feeling in the world is to just sit by myself, relax and talk to nobody.” I concur with her sentiment.
Mental exhaustion is self-imprisoning. It means either the mind is overwhelmed or extremely underwhelmed, overstretched to breaking point or abysmally low. And the most helpful thing you can do for it is to take time off for a leisurely do-nothing-think-nothing vacation. In short, let the mind be.
It needs to be given unconditional space and left alone. Sogyal Rinpoche compares it to pouring a handful of sand onto a flat surface where each grain settles on its own accord.You allow it the freedom to relax so that the tiredness which is actually a tight bundle of thoughts and emotions naturally loosens and eases.
Rest in spaciousness. Rest in this lovely mental ease. Just sit quietly, body loose, speech absent, mind peaceful… absolutely no effort, only a deep sweet relaxation. No words. Nothing… It is being in one’s natural spaciousness. When we feel we need nothing, have everything, when we are not concerned with what others think about us or how something is going to turn out, we are in spaciousness. It’s like giving away a small manicured lawn in our backyard and discovering a huge, endless spread of Nature’s lush, green forests and fields all around.
Spaciousness goes deeper — it means there is no limit to staying in this ease. It cannot be seen in terms of minutes or hours. When time loosens its grasp on your thinking, you are in eternity. Robert Fulghum expresses it perfectly when he says, ‘Peace is not something you wish for, it’s something you make, something you are, something you give away.’ Mental peace is not passive as many believe, it is dynamic, it opens wide your perception where you see the world in all its brilliance.
Peace is dynamic. Recently, I read a true-life anecdote that occurred 110 years ago when an elderly gentleman called Venkatarama Iyer stayed with the sagely Ramana Maharshi in the famous Arunachala caves. So ecstatically powerful was the radiant peace emanating from Ramana that a transported Iyer danced in joy around the sage and spontaneously wrote five hymns on his guru. These hymns are still sung today.
Be willing to say ‘I don’t know.’ On hearing these three liberating words, the mind rests. It’s exhausting to pretend you know it all.
When a mind is cleansed of its pressures, the effect can be a serene peace or a thrillingly electric jolt of energy. And if you’re vigilant, you can keep the mind clean and joyous all the time — either by remembering the peace experience so that your mind instantly shifts to this known altered state or by pausing to breathe slowly several times to centre the mind in the present moment away from the situational distress it may be getting scattered in. As Eckhart Tolle always exhorts, ‘Discern between life and a life situation.’ Let the mind, through the body, breathe in a living moment rather than waste its energy on a situation.
The routine that revs. The body is a great ally of the mind. A few days ago, I was feeling a little tired, my legs were hurting and I even considered skipping my exercise routine. And then, Dr B M Hegde pops up on YouTube and says, ‘What do you do when you come home physically and mentally exhausted? You lie down! Never lie down! Go for a long walk and see how you feel!’ I then pedalled for an hour on an armchair cycle, next picked up dumbbells for the upper-body exercises, and then on to the yoga mat for the mandatory abdominal crunches et al. And I was brimming over and glowing with well-being and goodwill like a Christmas anthem. Exercises release pent-up frustration, relax tight muscles and, release feel-good endorphins and return you renewed and buoyant to yourself. If you feel good, you are bound to be good to all.
Be human. Please take the time daily to contemplate the kind of energy you bring to situations, to people’s lives, to the world. Are you creating harmony or tumult? In this high-technology
world, remember robots can be efficient, computers can be speedy, but only humans can be harmonious and creative and, yes, vulnerable. Be human, be harmonious. Be such a wonderful human being that you’ll love your own company and be an empathetic blessing to others.
Deepak Chopra gently leads us through what he terms as the ‘creative intelligence of the future.’ He urges, ‘Share love and empathy,’ explaining, ‘Stress, not Covid, is the number one pandemic. When you feel what others feel, the neural network reorganises so you feel love. Love heals.’ He states, ‘Nature looks after health. You introduce a little intention to remain healthy… and as the Bible says, “Ask and you shall receive.” It’s quieting the mind and putting your intention into the Universal Mind and it comes back to you as fulfillment.’
Vulnerability is not a toxin, imperfections are not toxins. So, don’t fret on them, instead, see them in a clear perspective. Vulnerability brings down our barriers and builds bridges — human to human. As Victoria Pratt puts it, ‘People think vulnerability will make you weak, but it does the opposite. It shows you’re strong enough to care.’ Imperfections bring in new direction or fresh inputs — wrongly-timed notes have created new kinds of music, for example. Imperfections even gave the world the wonderful Japanese wabi-sabi way — seeing beauty in imperfection.
In that context, don’t get so deep into perfection that your mind drowns in rage, regret, guilt. Don’t put in so many more hours of work just to finish with or complete something — it’s far wiser to stop when you’re on top, end the day like a new beginning rather than as a dead duck. Brain drain, mind strain are not worth it. Tomorrow beckons, today says ‘Enough’.
Learn from the night. Get off the work desk and go into the night. Use the gift of night to shed all worries, all preoccupations. Sleep to the smooth, gliding, guiding Yoga Nidra meditation. Rest in the quiet offered by the night… the peace where so many sweet solutions and inspirational answers are woven. Then, wake up to the smile of the skies. Now, you can get back to your work desk.
Some tips that tap out tiredness:
* Help others. Helping boosts endorphins. Be an endorphinist.
* Enjoy beauty. Give and receive compliments with grace.
* If somebody pushes your buttons, practise observing rather than reacting. Self-control increases self-worth and that’s gold.
* Accept that there are things you cannot change. Then the mind can train its intelligence on the things you can change.
* Be willing to say ‘I don’t know.’ On hearing these three liberating words, the mind rests. It’s exhausting to pretend you know it all.
Finally, some practical wisdom from Edith Armstrong: ‘I keep the telephone of my mind open to peace, harmony, health, love and abundance. Then, whenever doubt, anxiety, or fear try to call me, they keep getting a busy signal — and soon they’ll forget my number.’
The writers are authors of Fitness for Life and Simply Spiritual – You Are Naturally Divine and teachers of the Fitness for Life programme.