Five Easy Steps to Mastering Your Mind
Mastering your mind is an essential skill
The ability to master your mind has a key role in your ability to enjoy life. If your daily activities are constantly driven by worry, overthinking, anxiety or fear-based thought, then you are more likely to experience lower levels of emotional well-being and stress-related health issues.
Your ability to control your thoughts and emotions also has a direct impact upon your relationships, levels of confidence, and ability to reach your highest potential in life. So learning how to master your mind is an important skill to develop.
With the aim of self-mastery in sight, let's explore five easy steps to mastering your mind and taking back control of your experience of life.
Step One - Practice observation
The first step to making any significant change is to develop an understanding of the problem. So, if you want to master your mind, you need to first develop an awareness of the nature of the mind and how it operates.
To do this, you need to begin turning your attention inwards, instead of solely placing it outside of yourself. Pay attention to how your thoughts affect your life. Do you notice any patterns? Do you have any tendencies to dwell on particular types of thought - like putting yourself down, or focusing on the negative aspects of a situation? Do you have any intense reactions to certain people or situations? Developing awareness into the nature of your mind will give you the insight to begin the process of change.
Step Two - Release the mind chatter
Once you have begun to notice the activity of your mind, you will also recognise certain patterns which are problematic.
One of the most common issues which tend to come up frequently for many people is mind chatter. This is when you have constant streams of thought running through your mind. An endless spiral of thought which can turn the most simple of situations into a complete catastrophe, or create the demise of any positive experience which happens in your life.
The most effective way to minimise this endless mind chatter is to develop presence; the ability to focus your mind onto an object or situation of your choice, rather than allowing your mind to run wild and untamed. Whilst this sounds simple, it can be challenging to put into practice.
The key to success here is to notice when your mind is descending into a spiral of chaotic, rambling, thought. When you notice it, stop the chain of thought. Here's how to do it - notice what is happening, then place your focus of attention onto something else. This will break the chain of chatter. Then repeat - as often as required.
Step Three - Live in the present moment
One of the main problems which people encounter when trying to master their mind is the occurrence of troublesome thoughts from the past.
This is problematic in two ways. First, we tend to dwell on these thoughts, over and over again. We try to make sense of them, erroneously thinking that by going over them repeatedly, a sudden insight will come to us, and they will disappear. But sadly, this is not often the case. What actually happens is that we waste large amounts of time making ourselves feel more anxious, more depressed, and more fearful. Living in the past prevents us from being happy and enjoying life now.
The second way in which we create problems for ourselves is to project our past experiences into our future. This shows up as worry and fear-based thinking, and it is a pattern which can be particularly difficult to see clearly.
As human beings, we learn through our past experiences. If we have encountered a situation previously and had a specific outcome, when we meet a similar situation again, we automatically assume that the outcome will be similar. Then inadvertently attract this into our lives.
Recognising every situation as new and fresh can stop either of these situations from occurring, and reduce the fear and worry which accompanies living outside of the present moment.
Step Four - Re-programme your mind and body
Your mind is linked to your physical body. So, all your thoughts and emotions correlate with physical criteria -like hormonal fluctuations, cellular changes, or neurological patterns.
When you begin to change how you interact with your mind, this will naturally create physical changes as well. These changes are most noticeable on two levels - mind and body. In the mind, neurological pathways are created as part of the process of forming our regular ways of thinking, feeling and interacting with the world around us. When we change our thoughts, the old patterns will continue for a while before new neurological pathways take precedence. So there is a period of transition where you need to focus more deliberately on creating new thought patterns, before they become the new norm.
A similar principle occurs in the body. As you begin to quiet the mind, space is created for the body to release unprocessed emotion. This may be experienced as old memories coming up once again. If this is not expected, it can be interpreted as uncomfortable or stressful. In an effort to return to a status quo, many people will move back to the patterns they are familiar with, without realising that this is a natural process of release. The body is a self-healing organism. These stored memories and thought patterns will pass, if you can recognise what they are, and remain present whilst they are released.
Step Five - Self-compassion
The final step is self-compassion. This is important because we are usually the main obstacle to our own progress. It is often our own inability to master our mind which holds us back from improving our lives. We become stuck in our own limiting beliefs and thoughts about who we are.
The most common beliefs which keep us trapped in familiar mental patterns include: not feeling good enough, fear of change, and a desire for acceptance from others. This desire to conform can result in hiding ourselves within the standard ways of thinking, instead of allowing ourselves to become more self-empowered.
Often we can be unkind to ourselves in a way that we never would to other people. We berate ourselves for not being able to make the changes we want. We deliberately procrastinate to avoid taking up our own power. Or we stay stuck in familiar ways of thinking because we are afraid of the perceived risks of change.
Learning how to practice self-compassion, and to be kind to ourselves whilst we make changes in how we interact with life, is a fundamental part of the process of change. It is only when we do this fully that we can create a better future for ourselves and the world around us.