I’m feeling introspective today…not sure why, but I try to honor those needs when they arise. I humbly recommend that you do the same. When our bodies or our minds call to us, there is usually a reason – though we may not understand it – a decision we need to make, a feeling we need to examine, an action we need to take, a mistake we need to forgive, a dream we need to pursue or release.
If we continue to ignore those calls, they get louder and louder, trying to get our attention, compelling us to go inside, to look, to listen, and to understand. Our bodies are powerful barometers of the unrest, dissatisfaction, longing, or confusion in our minds. Stress grows, health problems develop, sleep is disrupted, energy plummets, happiness and contentment fade, we can become sullen, irritated and generally annoyed with the world – quite unpleasant for those around us.
Even when we do recognize that we need to take some time to recognize the source of our discontent, we aren’t quite sure how to go about it. Too much to do, no time for rest, rushing, craziness. It seems a low priority, a waste of time even to spend precious time exploring our wants, our needs, our frustrations, and if we’re honest, it can be a bit scary. But totally worth the time.
We can have all the trappings of success and happiness, but if it’s not what we really want, what we really need, it’s hollow and fruitless. Now, that’s a waste of time.
Contemplation Made Easy – Let’s call it “Mind Surfing.” That has a nice ring to it. Makes it sound hip, current, not so “woo-woo.”
If you want to hear your inner dilemmas or discover the sources of your discontent, you have to get quiet enough to listen. This can be difficult in our modern world, but it’s not impossible, you just need to find what works for you.
Find a quiet location away from the noise and activity of the world – or your home…
- Easy meditation – meditation frequently comes up when talking about getting quiet. That’s because it works. You don’t need a cushion, fancy candles, a class, instructional recording, or even music – though those things can be helpful – you just need to sit in a quiet place and breathe.
- Daydream – Yes, for once in your life, daydreaming is allowed. In fact, it may be absolutely necessary. Allow your mind to wander with no prescribed agenda or destination. Just try not to do it at work…
- Pray – Any religion or no religion, formal or informal
- Chant – Use beads, mantra or background chanting – you can find CD’s
Preferably something you can do on auto-pilot – and still be safe – so that your mind can wander and thoughts can slow down so your brain get out of “doing” mode and get into “contemplating” mode.
- Walk – that’s as simple as it gets. It’s better if you’re not walking to get somewhere, just walking for the sake of walking and “mind surfing.”
- Run – many people are able to turn off their minds while running and just settle into the repetitive motion.
- Bike (no traffic please)
- Yoga – try holding poses longer to slow the mind, but hot or fast can work too, especially if you need to burn off excess energy
- Dance – any type of rhythmic movement works
- Swim – pay attention to where you’re going and don’t forget you’re in the water
Hobbies can be a fabulous way to get in touch with what’s going on inside. Creative activities force you to go inside yourself and tap into the part of your brain that isn’t used as often
- Sketch, draw, color
- Paint, watercolor
- Sculpt, Pottery
- Knit, crochet, embroider
- Sew, quilt
Connecting with nature has a way of helping us connect inside as well.
- Hit the trail – hike or find a nature trail
- Hit the water – fish, kayak, canoe, row
- Observe – bird watch, feed the ducks, sit in the park and watch the squirrels
- Garden – my personal favorite – I do some of my best “mind surfing” while gardening
Writing is the method of choice for many “word oriented.” Don’t edit, don’t censor. Be careful not to get caught up in grammar or punctuation and write with the intention that no one else will read your scribbles.
- Journal – The classic
- Jot notes – Capture random thoughts as they come
- Prompts – Use probing questions or focus on an issue that is plaguing you and write about that one thing
- Letters – Compose a letter to yourself –past, present or future – giving advice or asking questions. Write a letter to someone else – someone you know well or someone you don’t know at all, but respect – you won’t send them, just write the words.
For the “visually oriented” creating, a picture or visual representation of sorts is helpful.
- Mind map – paper or software, doesn’t matter. Try mind mapping to connect or flesh out ideas, concerns, come up with solutions or possibilities.
- Dream board – Assemble or collage images that attract or repel you. They often give clues to what you want or what is worrying you.
Some prompts to get you started:
- What’s bothering me is…
- What I really want is…
- What I can’t stand is…
- What I really need to figure out is…
- I really need to decide…
- I really need to do something about…
- What worries me is…
- I need to let go of…
- I’d really like to…
- I can’t stop thinking about…
- I can’t help feeling…
- My gut tells me…
- I need to get over…
- I want to figure out what to do about…
- The next step I need to take is…