Take Back Your Head SpaceThe human mind is a remarkable entity. When harnessed, it can seemingly solve any problem. Overcome any challenge. The brain is the reason we’ve evolved to rule the planet. But also the reason we think we’ve earned it. The brain, when not harnessed, can run us. And this is where my struggle often begins.

I believe our stress comes from not leading the lives we ultimately desire, but, how much of our thinking time do we spend closing this gap? For my own part, I can honestly say “very little”. I lie awake at night allowing distractions to keep me up. Work planning. To do lists. Allowing, in essence, my brain to run me. (Carl often frets about the little things too, although he has less of a problem with sleep.)

Our Challenge

This week’s challenge is to shift our thoughts to the things we care about. For me, this is a pretty short list. It looks something like this: (1) my family (their health, safety and happiness), (2) my community, (3) my own health and balance, and (4) protecting and cultivating the planet at large.

How are we going to do this? Well, our plan is to simply replace each thought with a more “targeted” thought each time we catch ourselves thinking about the distractions. In principle, it’s conceptually similar to using a mantra during meditation, but not limited to the meditation period.

Of course, there will be times when we need to shift into tactical thinking mode – like work or making a grocery list – but we’re aiming to take back our free time. After all, the brain is great at solving specific problems. It’s just that we want our free time to focus on solving the problems that contribute to our own goals. We’re hoping this will leave us more contented and balanced. (And for me – rested.)

Our Tale

More often than not, our challenges don’t turn out exactly as expected.  This challenge was no exception.  Apparently, it takes more than a couple of days to re-train your brain and establish an alternate thinking process.  Furthermore, it’s darn hard work.

Here’s how the week went down. As always, feel free to skip to Our Findings if you’d rather not indulge in a good tale.

The Log

Day 1  How hard can this be?  Alright.  I am going to bed.  I’m thinking about work.  Now what am I supposed to do?  Right, change it.  Now I’ll think about our family – happy and healthy.  Peace of mind is restored.  I drift off to sleep.  (This is going to be a snap!)

Day 2  Things are still going pretty well.  Day 1 provided ample inspiration and I am still riding on the optimism.

Day 3  I come down with a stomach virus and sleep all day and night.  There is no time or energy for distraction.

Day 4  The relapse begins.  Being away from work for a couple of days has left me needing to work at night.  I go to bed with my head full of little dilemmas. I keep applying my “mantra”, but it doesn’t last long.  My brain reclaims some previously conquered ground.  In the end, I lose some sleep, but I am diligent.  My efforts pay off after 90 minutes and I drift peacefully into sleep.

Day 5  Easier than day 4.  Again, I am repeatedly distracted, but it is easier to re-direct my thoughts and let go.

Day 6  All good.  Focused only on the good.  The odd distraction popped up, but I just let go.  Felt good all day and night.  The planets have aligned.

Day 7  Still good.  I think I am on the path.

Our Findings

In short, I don’t think this re-focusing technique is the only tool I need in my “peace of mind” toolbox, but it did provide a much-needed subtle shift in my thought processes.  I already meditate (albeit not as regularly as I would like) and I think this exercise is a nice complement to my meditation practice.  (For more information on Meditation, check out our previous post: The “Un-Challenge”: Can Meditation Help The World (Starting With Us)?)

Since I started this challenge, I’ve been fully present with my children, which clearly lines up directly with my goals.  I’ll definitely carry on with this.

And how did Carl do?  Carl also liked this challenge, but he prefers a more structured practice.  He has decided to reinvoke his past “Morning Predictions, Evening Revisions” practice – another form of mental preparation and aligning with your ultimate goals.

The Goodness

So, will this do any good for the world at large?  I have no concrete proof that it will.  But, for those of you who follow this blog, you know we’re big believers in the kismet/ karma/ “pay-it-forward” factor, and this one is ripe with potential.  Taking back our headspace enabled us to be happier and calmer.  It helped us to be really present with our loved ones.  And to leave the little things where they belong – far, far, far away from conscious attention.  I can’t help believing that there’s good in that.

 

Interested in our other challenges? Check out The Goodness Challenge.

 

Image: Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


About the Author

Just a small town mom trying to make the world a better place for my kids. One small change at a time.

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