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I love learning about the intricacies of the human experience, and in particular how our thoughts and beliefs help shape the way we show up in the world.
Our thoughts are so powerful and plentiful, we generate between 50,000 - 70,000 of them each day! Reflecting on the capacity and range of thoughts we turn out on any given day boggles my mind.
I see how each of us, through our thoughts, become like the conductor in our own personal musical production. We direct each note to create the music of our lives. Our songs are unique and classic, each one with great potential to become an unforgettable hit. Our songs become our personal legends, some translate into sweet melodies with great range in tone and pitch, whereas others can be overtaken by dark and gloomy tones that can feel flat and monotonous.
Despite having this keen awareness of how my thoughts influence my day and overall sense of well-being, I still find myself in places where I struggle to let go of some deeply entrenched ways of thinking. Even though I know I am the one choosing to attach to certain ways of thinking or not, sometimes the draw to the dark side is powerful. At times, it has felt nearly impossible to extinguish repetitive thoughts that are hurtful and self-defeating.
A recent journey to Bali opened the doors to some beautiful insight and inspiration that has helped me to see just how simple and attainable it is to quiet my mind and make room to lead with my heart.
My experience of the Balinese culture blew me away. I found the people there to be lovely, kind, compassionate and connected. Every person I met seemed to have this light and presence about them that was refreshing and calm. It was as though there was an awareness ignited in their core. I immediately recognized that this spark was the very thing I had been looking for. I am not sure if it was timing, location, or being in self-reflective holiday mode. Perhaps it was a combination of all these things that showed me the way to connect to my inner happy place.
Each person on my journey, those I traveled with and those I met along the way, inspired these 10 things I have brought home to practice. These 10 creative ways to quiet my mind and lead with my heart can easily be applied throughout the day. They are practices and reminders to help build my mindful muscle in order to worry less and love more. Try them on for size if you wish, and perhaps they will be a fit for you too!
1. "No thinking!" Just saying this aloud serves as a great reminder to get out of your head and create space to feel with your heart.
2. "Thank you, thank you, thank you." Say these words and feel these words throughout the day in order to refocus a busy mind and ignite your heart. You're alive and that alone is worthy of giving thanks. Gratitude is a powerful way to put things in perspective and connect to your heart.
3. "Cancel, cancel." Anytime dark thoughts start to monopolize your mind, say this to yourself in order to cancel destructive thoughts and stop them from growing into giant monster thoughts.
4. Less is more. No amount of material possessions or wealth can feed your soul, the two are completely unrelated. Instead of trying to fill the voids with things, practice sitting in the discomfort or quiet spaces and listen to the insight that comes. This is the voice that will lead you down the path to your joy and passion.
5. One person at a time. Instead of trying to rise to the top or leave a giant mark on life, practice providing real quality connected service to one person at a time. The ripple effect of this genuine contact will have a far greater reach than approaching life or work with a win-at-all-costs type of model. The one person at a time mindset eases pressure and nerve-wracking thoughts, and makes room to have presence of mind and a joyful journey.
6. Community. Having an open door and an open heart is the very thing that creates abundance. If we are too busy in our thoughts and actions to connect with the people who make up our community, we are missing out on the opportunity to fill up our spiritual buckets with connectedness and love. Having an open door policy for the ones we love is a must.
7. Give. Give what you can when you can. Holding on to everything we have with clenched fists will not bring us more joy or abundance. When we give love, possessions, knowledge, inspiration or a helping hand, we are helping to make our world a little brighter. When we give, we help to counterbalance the things in life that are dark. When we give with an open heart and without an agenda attached, the effect will be felt.
8. Breathe. Make time each day for meditation and quiet time with a focus on your breath. Strengthening this practice into a habit will have long lasting benefits throughout your day. When you begin to feel stressed, refocus on your breath. This will become your life preserver in dealing with difficult situations that are bound to come up. Taking a moment or two to breathe in stressful situations, will help you relax and not overreact to something that you may later feel bad about. Oxygen is good!
9. Listen. Instead of engaging in endless chatter or gossip, practice getting quiet. Feeling the need to constantly have to speak our minds gives life to thoughts that would be better off left alone. Instead of talking, try listening. The art of listening is a wonderful way to hold space for a friend or loved one to share their hearts and stories with us. It is amazing what beautiful things we hear when we stop to listen.
10. Laugh. A good old fashioned belly-laugh is a sure way to quiet the mind and ignite your soul. It's contagious, it feels good, and it lightens the mood on the darkest of days. Laughter is nature's purest medicine that will fill your heart with joy. When we feel happy and bright, we are better able to lead with our hearts and share our light with the world.