You may be wondering how you can clear your mind. After all, we all want a clear mind when facing our daily lives, right? The bad news? You can’t technically (or completely) clear your mind. On average, a person has over 6,000 thoughts per day! I think we can all agree that clearing through that mental inbox is probably futile. We are all busy people. We have work to do and families to take care of. Not to mention, we also have to take care of ourselves. While clearing all of your thoughts may not be the plausible way to go, we can agree that turning a blind eye does more harm than good. The good news?
Clearing your mind and returning to the present moment comes from a simple act of acknowledging that you’re overwhelmed in the first place. We’ll get to that in a second. But first, what happens when you’re not present? What Happens When You’re Not Present? What happens when you are not present? Most likely, nothing incredibly damaging and only short-term. After all, no one is present 100% of the time. We’ve evolved to keep looking and working towards a future goal. The very nature of our careers is to make sure that we’re setting ourselves up for the future. Our relationships are very much the same way. Think of a time when you’ve asked the question (or have been asked): where do you see this relationship going? Our thoughts and, therefore, our habits and actions consistently point in the forward-moving direction. This has ensured our survival and human evolution.
The point at which this becomes harmful is when we become too stuck in this forward motion. The result of this is “burnout.” It’s a term that is most often used in the workplace, but burnout can happen in any area of our life where you feel like you’re pushing too hard and too fast. The idea here is that you’re so engrossed in the forward movement, that you take on too much and rest too little. There is no pause in the present because you have this sense that you must keep working. On a physical plane, the body takes a real hit with burnout. You feel more muscle fatigue, poor concentration, insomnia, anxiety, poor metabolism, and so much more. These symptoms are the body’s way of throwing you red flags and warn you that you must slow down. But because your mind is so preoccupied with this forward momentum, it disconnects you from listening to your body’s signals. The only time you really hear them is when the signals are too loud to ignore, such as during serious illness or pain.
As we can see, not being present is something that snowballs over time. Eventually, it can cause serious mental, emotional, and physical ailments. So, how do you deal with this? How Do We Come Back to the Present? Answering this question will answer the question of how to clear your mind because they go hand in hand. There are many tools you can use to begin a mindfulness practice. To reiterate, mindfulness is simply defined as the act or practice of being fully present. Tools that allow you to step into this practice include meditation, journaling, a body-centered movement practice such as Qigong, or simple breathing exercises.
Underneath it all, however, is one technique that acts as a universal connector, and that is acknowledgment. This term may not sound like a technique, but its power truly flourishes when put into practice. For us to come back to the present moment, we have to acknowledge that we have trailed off into the past or the future. Likewise, for us to clear our mind, we have to acknowledge that our mind is overwhelmed, distracted, or scattered. This simple act of pausing and catching ourselves in the moment is how we can build our acknowledgment practice. So, the next time you find yourself overwhelmed at work with mental to-do lists, pause. Acknowledge your state of mind, and say to yourself (or out loud) that you’re overwhelmed. This sends a signal to your whole being that you’re aware of what’s going on. It cuts the cords of illusion, denial, and ignorance. You are now building your awareness of yourself, which is an incredibly potent gift.
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