Our modern lives are fraught with danger: traffic jams, long lines, tedious forms to fill out, exams, deadlines, family crises, work problems, contentious relationships, health issues, emails to answer, phone calls to make ~ the list is daunting, endless, and frays the edges of our peace of mind.
We run from one event to the next, barely able to catch our breath. In moments of introspection we notice that the years are rolling by, and we lament ”I wish I could meditate better, but my mind is just too restless.”
Yogananda said that we have to learn to “turn off the sense-telephones” so that we can “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
If you want to experience this liberating stillness, try some of these simple techniques to help reduce the sensory overload the keeps your mind in an uproar…and you’ll see that all of them fit into a fast-paced lifestyle!
CUT DOWN ON MENTAL JUNK FOOD:
Modern life is full of noise pollution, which has been shown to be detrimental to health. Sometimes it’s the incessant hum of machinery, of traffic, or just the voices of co-workers or the people next door. Find a way to limit its influence on your life, at least for periods of time, so that you can relax into quiet.
~ Try using earplugs, or headphones, for a half hour while you concentrate on your work, and see how much more you can get done. You may find it surprising how much that annoying hum of the copy machine, or whatever machine is nearly, actually weighs on your consciousness.
~ Take a 10-minute sensory seclusion: lie completely still, with earplugs and eyeshades, and relax your mind. Be sure to tell yourself it is OK to not worry about your to-do list for just 10 minutes…
~ Tune into silence whenever you can find it; seek it out. Learn to not be afraid of it, but to bask in it.
~ Re-think your commute, and let it become a “Mini-Seclusion”: listen to uplifting music, or books on tape, or just enjoy a period of time of not talking.
~ If worries assail you, formulate an affirmation to steadfastly repeat in your mind. It can be specific to your needs, or something universal, and as simple as “Aum Guru.”
The barrage of visual pollution is equally as draining or sound pollution. For example, staring into a computer screen all day is unhealthy, especially when we come home from work and stare into a TV screen all night.
~ Choose your influences carefully. Why fill your mind with violence, intrigue, sensuality, and horror, which is the fare offered by most movies…choose wisely because these images can stay in your mind for years.
~ Go on a technology fast: Turn off the TV! And the radio, phone, pager, ipod, ipad, google glasses…and the computer. Mankind has survived for a long time without the continuous input of mechanical devices, and you can, too, for a few hours…
COUNTERACT THE ONSLAUGHT BY TAKING AN “ANALOG” MOMENT:
~ Spend more time actually talking with the people you love. Don’t just email them, sit with them face to face.
~ Work with your hands making something: a meal, a painting, a gift for someone, a garden.
~ Go for a walk. Use your eyesight to absorb the wonders of nature for a change. And allow your physical energy to be grounded and centered by the magnetism of the earth.
~ Apportion your time, don’t let it get away from you: instead of internet surfing for all those hours, study a language, or learn to play an instrument
Our sensory input habits often comes down to simple decisions like, “Do I really want to watch that action adventure movie before bed?” and, “Do I want to spend so many hours a day playing video games?,” but these small decisions, over time keep the mind superficial, and make it harder for the mind to relax into deeper states.
Mindless distractions are sometimes all we feel ourselves equal to, but if we can consciously choose to at least keep them within parameters, we’ll be one step closer to a quiet mind.
Promise yourself, “I’ll work on the computer for one hour after dinner, and then I will shut it off.” Set a timer if you need to!
Can you keep your promises?
PLUG THE ENERGY LEAKS:
The ramped up pace of modern life puts unrelenting expectations and demands on us all. But you can choose to close the door ~ for 10 minutes, for an hour, or for a day ~ you can choose to tell the world to “take a hike.”
From our first breath we pour our energy out into the world. But you can choose to refill the drained cup.
~ Be in silence…that means NO TALKING. It is better if it includes no texting, no emailing, and not even writing notes. It takes some planning, but you may find it amazingly rejuvenating! Try it for an afternoon, a day, a week…
~ Take time away from the computer and pouring yourself into answering all those emails. Learn to hit the “delete” button, to prioritize, and not let your technology control you.
~ Find ways to simplify your life in all aspects, even the mundane. Get creative: maybe there is a way you can get supplies without leaving home, for example. Why run the tires off your car fighting all that traffic if you don’t need to?
~ Learn to weigh your words; mindless chit-chat is draining. Make every word you speak be worth something.
~ Keep the relationships that matter, that feed you, that nurture your spirit. Let the contentious ones go. If you are bound to ones that are contentious, do your duty, but limit their influence on you, and make sure you have support in dealing with them.
Rajarshi Janakananda, Yogananda’s foremost disciple, would spend many morning hours meditating, and begin his work later than most. People sometimes asked him, “How can you afford to spend so much time meditating?”
His answer: “I can’t afford not to.”
The truth is, if we CAN meditate more deeply, we CAN manage the stress and tension in our lives better, get more done more easily (!), and enjoy the peace that our hearts long for.