Updated: Jan 3
Having spent vast sums of money, time and energy in an attempt to calm my mind, I thought it would be cool to write about some of the activities I stumbled upon that actually helped. For those that have known me over the years, these may seem a bit out of character, but I can assure you, the following is real. I'm not saying these will work for everyone, but they definitely have empowered me to achieve a better head space.
I have a daily meditation practice. This usually involves sitting on my couch in front of the fire for anywhere between 5 minutes to an hour with the sole intention of placing my attention on my breath. I don't tend to use audios or affirmations. I enjoy the meditation. It has not yet enabled me to levitate on top of a Himalayan mountain in a serene state as I initially hoped it might, but over time I have found that my mind is clearer. The times that I least want to sit still, are probably the times I most benefit from this practice.
In October 2018, I started getting up on weekends to walk around outside as daylight approached and would observe the sunrise any morning that the weather permitted. I don't know why I started this. I just thought to do it one morning. One of the cool things this did for me was show me the really interesting colours you see in the sky at both sunrise and sunset. I guess I had always known this happened, but had never truly seen it before.
Along with this, I got a telescope and binoculars and started learning about different star constellations. I found this to be a humbling experience. It was easier to gain a bit of perspective with the things on my mind when I learned that there are more stars in the night sky than grains of sand on the earth.
An interesting thing happened here with my mind.
Previously I dreaded the winter and always felt my mood, anxiety and head space deteriorated as winter closed in. I disliked the dark evenings and mornings. I felt it coincided with a negative mind. Now, the dark was allowing me the opportunity to observe different star constellations and appreciate the cool sunrise and sunset that occurs every day that we usually don't pay any attention to. In summer we can't really do this. I suddenly began to really embrace the darkness that winter brought.
I began consistently hiking and walking through forests. I used to do this years ago but I wasn't really engaged in what I was doing. Previously if I had went for a hike in the woods, I would have been imagining myself doing something else. I might have been in the forest physically, but mentally I was light years away. Back then, a walk was completed for the sake of it. I would be listening to music to distract me, trying to "get there and back". I certainly would not have appreciated the quiet space, the different tree types and foliage, the various characteristics of trees and forests from different areas.
Now, I love walking through forests, particularly deciduous areas and learning of the different birds and wildlife. I found this to be really freeing, observing all this cool stuff that is happening all around us and seeing the different birds and their personalities. Even as I write this, I am looking forward to listening to some chaffinches next spring (they don't seem to sing at this time of year).
Reading has become something I enjoy greatly. I think I always liked it, but often felt if I was spending my free time reading, I was missing out on something. I felt I should be socialising, out and about, in the company of others. Always feeling I should be doing something else.
At the same time, I didn't want to socialise as I knew I would spend most of the evening operating in my mind, hoping I could get home soon before I got really uncomfortable.
I would never even attempt to advise anyone on how they might calm their mind, but from personal experience, these are some things that have helped me.
I have come to realise that I would rather stay in and get a good night's sleep in anticipation of walking through a forest in early morning and seeing the sun come out, rather than being out half the night and losing the next day with a headache.
I guess I am a bit boring now. If I could have seen into the future a few years ago, and envisioned this would be how I would spend my free time, I would have thought I was soft.
But this is what I love to do.