How to CLEAR your mind
Here's a taster to give you an idea of how The SleepWell Method works. It's an exercise in embracing the “Here & Now” – living in the present moment. It comes from the Budhist teachings and is probably more valid now than it's ever been in human development. It's something you can do any time when you don't want to think about something or you don't have to think about what you're doing i.e. going for a walk, mowing the lawn or lying in bed with the intention of going to sleep.
Focus your awareness on what you’re experiencing at this moment in time. Become conscious and aware of what can you see, feel & hear right now. If your eyes are closed notice the random patterns do you see beyond your eyelids. Notice your breathing and how air is entering and exiting your body. If you dwell in the past, then the memory of anything or everything that ever happened or didn’t happen may come to mind and kick off an extensive thought trail containing pictures, words and feelings. By choosing to be in the current moment you close the door to all of this. If you wander into the future you're opening the door to a realm of possibilities, unknowns and speculation and unending mental activity. By choosing to focus your consciousness on the present moment, what’s happening for you right now, you effectively turn everything else off. Enjoy the pleasure of relaxing in your bed after a busy day, or sitting comfortably in a chair to take time out to meditate and come back refreshed or to just be immersed in the task at hand – what’s known as “Being in the zone” or “In flow”.
Most people go round with their heads constantly buzzing with random thoughts and memories – some good, some bad. This can be so habitual that we're not even aware of it. The trouble with this is that it’s quite exhausting for us and because these thoughts don’t lead to anything productive most of the time, it’s rather like reving the engine of your car when you’re in neutral. You create lots of heat and noise and use energy, but don’t get anywhere. These disruptive thoughts make it difficult for us to concentrate, they steal the pleasure that we might enjoy in the present moment, and they block out creative solutions to problems we’re working on. They make it challenging for us to relax, switch off and ultimately get to sleep.
We’re most vulnerable to mental clutter when our hands are busy but our minds aren’t, such as driving, mowing the lawn or doing the ironing. You might become aware that for the last few minutes you’ve been reliving an argument with someone or perhaps a near miss whilst driving. Your vivid recall of the event is so real that you’re full of adrenaline and in an angry state of mind. You’ve gone through the unfortunate event yet again with no positive outcome, and you’re worse off as a result.
So I want to give you a simple technique that will break this disruptive habit and allow you think clearly, be more productive, creative and happier. So whenever you have a random, disruptive or unwanted thought, nip it in the bud and get rid of it by repeating the word “CLEAR” until it’s gone. Make this word your mantra which blocks out anything you don’t want or need. CLEAR is an acronym for the things you need to do to train you mind.
If you’ll train yourself to do this, you’ll find that it’s possible to experience a clear head with just useful thoughts dropping in from time to time. Your mind will learn not to bombard you with negative or pointless thoughts.
C is for Consciousness
Learn to be conscious of mental clutter and clatter. We can find ourselves gratuitously reliving arguments, disappointments and unpleasant events or continuing to think about work when we should switch off and do something else. Becoming conscious of churning stuff over and over in our heads is the first step in arresting this pointless and exhausting habit. Rumination is for cows, not humans!
L is for Let Go
Now that you’ve realised what you’re doing, you need to let go of these thoughts which are wearing you down and robbing you of your “peace of mind”. If it’s an important issue, write it down on your to-do list or schedule a time to deal with it, or put it in your mental filing tray on your desk. If it’s rubbish – then stick it in your mental dustbin!
“Holding resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemies”.
E is for Eyes
When you move your eyes around, it’s impossible to hold a thought. So use this to your advantage by looking up and down and left to right to scramble mental pictures and stop unwanted memories running riot in your mind.
A is for Acceptance
Accept the things you can’t change and take action on the things you can. Either by doing something or deciding what you’ll do differently in the future.
Grant me the courage to change the things I can, the grace to accept the things I can't and the wisdom to know the difference. Serenity prayer.
R is for Repeat
Your mind can only hold one thought at time. So by repeating the word “CLEAR” as a mantra, you block out unwanted thoughts and remind yourself of the importance and opportunity of having a clear mind to enjoy your time now. With a little practice you’ll be able to enjoy quietness of mind, clear thinking, reduced stress, increased happiness and better sleep.