“Lose your mind so that you can gain a new way of knowing.” ~Holly Lynn Payne
You know those moments when your thoughts seem to be going off in all directions? No logic, no control. All fighting for your attention like a class full of overexcited school children, one shouting even louder than the other at a teacher who’s lost control and ends up running out of the classroom crying.
“What if I don’t get this job?”
“What if they don’t like me?”
“Why hasn’t Rico returned my calls?”
“What if he doesn’t really love me?”
“Did I turn down the heater?”
“I feel like a failure thinking about my money situation.’”
“He should have called me back if he really loves me.”
“I should start budgeting tomorrow.”
“I am going to do yoga every day next month.”
“I should really lose some weight.”
“If this is how it is, I don’t want to see him anymore.”
“Is reality really even real?”
“I feel feverish; do I have Corona?”
“What if the sun doesn’t come up?”
“I am going to text him now.”
“No, let’s not text him now, I am too upset.”
“I feel a weird tingling in my hand, am I dying?”
In such a situation you feel like you are going crazy, right? You want to stop it and get out of there and just want some peace and quiet. Precisely because it is so uncomfortable to have thoughts like these, it is a great motivation to let go of your mind and find your silence inside. These moments make you want to lose your mind, and that’s actually awesome!
Meditation is a great ally in my life on all levels; sitting in silence helps me get in touch with a deeper level of experiencing—more happiness, more flow, and more magic. But I speak to a lot of people who find it very hard to start meditation. Even if they try, they get stuck or they struggle.
It is my mission to make meditation easy for anyone who’s interested, because it really is easy once you get it.
Through my years of spiritual practice, retreats, and meditation training I ran into a few exercises that almost feel like a cheat code to get around the mind. They are so easy, so accessible, you don’t need any practice and they don’t take long at all. But they deliver on a silver platter what so many people are looking for after years of trying to quiet the mind with meditation.
Whether you are a newbie or a veteran, it doesn’t matter; these exercises offer something for everyone.
What’s important for all these exercises: Let go of expectations, just observe what is happening; there is no right or wrong. Experience how it feels for you and stay in the feeling; don’t try to understand it in words.
1. Ping pong
The next time you find yourself caught up in some type of love story or money trouble or worry in your head, pay attention and you will see you have thoughts that say completely the opposite.
Think about this classic example of contradictory thoughts:
“I never want to see him again.”
“Why doesn’t he call me?”
When you have opposing thoughts like this, take a step back in your mind and look at both thoughts. It’s just like looking at a ping pong match, right? Then just stay there for a while and feel what happens.
Go for a walk outside; it doesn’t matter where or when. Focus purely on your surroundings. Just look with your eyes, really look, without commenting in your head on what you see. It doesn’t matter if it’s a beautiful forest of a busy shopping street, just keep your attention on what you experience in the moment.
If at any moment a thought pops into your head, don’t grab hold of it; just observe it and let it float by, like a cloud in the sky. In the meantime, keep your attention on your surroundings and keep walking.
3. Five breaths
This might sound very simple, but when it comes down to it, it’s harder for a lot of people then they might think, and that’s what makes it so fun and so eye-opening. It’s a great way to see how many thoughts, big and small, are popping up in your head every breath.
So just sit down, close your eyes, and breathe five slow breaths in and out, in and out, counting as you go—inhale, exhale, one; inhale, exhale, two. Counting will give you something to hold your mind, which will help you keep it clear of other thoughts.
If you can make it to five with a quiet mind, see if you can add another five, and then more after that. If thoughts pop up, simply bring your focus back to your counting and your breath.
While you practice this the invitation is to see what happens for you. How does your mind feel? How does your body feel? Are you experiencing anything different?
4. Wait for it
Sit down, close your eyes, and say to yourself, “Hmm, I wonder what the next thought is going to be.” Focus on the space inside your head where thoughts seem to come from and sit and wait for the next thought while keeping your focus.
The amazing Indian tradition of Brahmari is a great emergency tool for calming a chaotic mind.
Just close your eyes and go “Huuuummmmmmmmmmm” and keep the “mmmm” going for as long as you can until you hear the “mmmm” in the center of your brain. You can also use “Ohm” or “Aum” if you like, since they end with “mmmm” as well. Do it as long as you can, for as long as you like, and see how it calms and relaxes you.
These five exercises will give you an experience of silence in no time at all, and they’re all great first steps toward a regular meditation practice. When one doesn’t work just move to the next one, not forcing anything. Be playful with it.
If you do these exercises regularly the silence will become longer and clearer. But beware: They might just make you fall in love with losing your mind!