The unpredictable turbulence of life may occasionally bring challenges that threaten to disrupt the happy and harmonious lives we are all trying to live. As we interpret and respond to these environmental changes, undesired “negative” thoughts may arise, impacting our cognitive functioning and obstructing our goals of sustainable happiness. It is extremely beneficial to clean out the negative obstructions and liberate the mind to again feel and operate at its peak performance. This is central to our Happiness Blueprint.
The great news is there are things we can do to wash away the mental hindrances and clean up our thought processing. How? By dedicating uninterrupted effort, at frequent regular intervals and whenever additionally required, to practise specific exercises that cleanse the mind of these obstructions.
Certain techniques work better for certain people so find an exercise that works well for you and practise it. You can have some fun with them too, personalising techniques to suit your needs, if it helps you maintain regular practice.
Finally, keeping properly hydrated is additionally important during these exercises as insufficient water in the brain leads to lack of focus, brain fatigue, impaired short-term and long-term memory functions, headaches, sleep issues, anger, depression, and other obstacles.
Don’t worry, you will be thinking more clearly, more efficiently and even more happily, very soon!
Send a Prayer Send Love
A fantastic practice to help process conflict or turbulence with a relationship/friendship. It is comparable to a focused Metta Meditation (growing unconditional compassionate love for something or all things).
Find a peaceful place such as a bedroom, at a peaceful time, such as just before sleep. Start by creating a mental projection of the person with whom your relationship is strained. Align all your mental focus to sincerely wishing them unconditional happiness. Wash away all fear, anger, or jealousy. Allow any negativity to dissolve by reminding yourself that they are also human, with the same basic human desires – to avoid suffering and to obtain happiness. Finally a very important step, eradicate your natural human desire to repair the relationship. The focus must be purely on their happiness, not your desire for change. Send genuine love and good things will happen.
Physically de-clutter your life
Our physical environment has a huge effect on our mental well-being, and sometimes the most effective way to clear our head is to simplify our to do lists and de-clutter our surroundings!
Prioritise those nagging “To do’s” and accept that there are many things that you simply can’t do! Don’t beat yourself up over any chores that you don’t do, we are all only human and have a fixed capacity of time and energy so we must prioritise and focus to get anything done at all! Physical clutter around the home or workplace translates into mental clutter so consider tidying the place up, reducing the volume of personal possessions, and allow yourself to function in an ordered environment. Starting with visual tasks can help build quick momentum for larger undertakings.
Clean the Corridor, Clean the Rooms.
This versatile technique can help bring back old memories, remind us of our core values, clarify the mind to see the bigger picture and ease stress.
Visualise for a moment that you’re in a short corridor with many doors on either side. The corridor is a simplified representation of your mind, each door a different function, or memory, a different part of the mind and affected by different components of your life. As you open the doors and enter the rooms, one at a time, turn the light on and take a look inside. It may be empty or full, clean and bright or dirty, there may be good things and dark dirty things, so allow the light to shine ever brighter to banish the darkness and cleanse the dirt. There may be childhood memories that you can watch or relive, or representations of your values and work ethic to remind us of what really matters to us. Perhaps a room will contain things you’d rather not think about. Anything that feels negative and undesired is present in your mind and you’ll benefit from acknowledging it’s existence and without emotion, allow the increasing brightness fill the room with light and watch the unwanted negativity recede and vanish from the room, leaving clean, light space. Leave the room illuminated as you leave and continue into the next room. Continue down the corridor cleaning every room behind every door until they’re all bright and clean.
This is a great re-energiser and aims to clean out every bit of stress, worry, anxiety or negativity that may have crept into the mind.
As usual, find a quiet place free from distractions and interruptions and close your eyes. Imagine you are in a vast open black space, be it a mental projection of your consciousness or a visualisation of your universe, or any other expanse of your being. As you acclimatise to this place notice there’s a lot of dirty blackness everywhere. From a single point allow a dot to appear. You can consciously expand this dot into a tiny bubble. It can be blue or any colour that naturally appears. Then make it grow. As it grown from a dot to a much larger sphere, watch how the surface is a special membrane that only lets good through it, so all the negativity collects on the surface and is carried away, while everything inside the bubble is pure and clear and bright.
You may want to grow a second bubble inside the original sphere, that clears out 100% of the negativity that the first bubble may have missed. As the bubble(s) continue to expand to the edges of infinity watch them grow ever-faster, leaving your mind fresh, clean, and happy. You can clean things up at any time, – the bubbles will always be out there keeping the purified inner space well protected.
These can be done at almost any time and can take a variety of forms. Use your imagination and try and have reminders to try a mini-mediation scattered around your desk or workplace until they become more naturally occurring. Here are some examples from an unlimited selection:
Take Ten Seconds — Step back from the hectic mists of life and observe the situation as it really is. Stop what you are doing and consider: What good could come of this situation? What are you feeling? What is the mind thinking or saying? Pause for 10 seconds to regain control of the mind and quieten the irrational or negative thoughts.
Five Why’s — A common problem solving tool that can be applied to any situation, from analysing the thoughts and feeling of an event, to considering alternative or less obvious factors. Question something with “Why is this so?” five times.
Mindfulness — Spend a short moment observing and understanding the sensations of the body. What thoughts are prominent? What can you hear? What can you feel? How does your body feel? What else can you feel? What ELSE can you feel? Is your body happy, or frustrated by something? When you identify a negative feeling, just be aware of it and allow the negativity to dissolve. Try to regularly nurture the thoughts from awareness of sensations to appreciation of them and finally to gratitude for them.
As often as possible, acknowledge to yourself and to someone else, how good a current moment is. How lucky you are to be alive on Earth…exactly where you are…exactly how your are, exactly then. Telling someone else more than doubles the positive effects of a good moment!
Three Deep Conscious Breaths — Focus on the increased oxygen bringing more efficient blood to the brain to see more clearly. The stresses and worries of the situation will diminish. Deeper breaths directly reduce Cortisol levels in the blood (the stress hormone).
“I am here” — Sounds simple, but just repeating those three words, allowing the mind to focus on the meaning of the words, allowing yourself to really explore what that means, is a very powerful way to bring things back into perspective a little.
Try more of these 10 Second Tricks for a quick happiness boost.
Blue Sky Visualisation.
Close your eyes and allow yourself to relax in an upright position, such that the chest is open to breathe freely. Start by visualising a cloudy sky, dark and gloomy. Perhaps the clouds are representations of an obstacle you are facing at the moment. Instead of trying to move the clouds and see what is beyond them, simply watch the sky patiently. There will be areas lighter than other areas, and some that are darker. Focus on the lighter areas. look intently into the lighter areas of the clouds and realise that the glow of the sun is there, beyond the clouds. Keep focusing on the lighter areas and allow the sky to gently illuminate brighter and brighter. Keep the attention on whichever area is brightest, and strengthen brightness of the light behind. Slowly the clouds will thin and evaporate, getting lighter and brighter, until patches of blue emerge. Follow these patches as they grow and connect until the sky is cleared and calm. Take a moment to rest in this peaceful clarity that you have created.
If you find the imaginary clouds don’t leave after some time, don’t worry or create any agitation towards this entirely imaginary scene, you can allow slow deep breaths can be incorporated into the visualisation to blow the clouds away with each gentle outgoing breath, or simply try something else.
Reflecting on the Good Things.
Unashamedly biased, simple pleasure! Positive thoughts are like shining a light into a dark room. The light always brightens things up and will help nurture more regular gratitude – the seed of all happiness! This is a great reflection exercise where we dedicate a couple of minutes to run through the some of the many reasons we have to feel happy! You could start by recalling simple pleasures, cherished memories or hobbies, and go on to the opportunities that you have, the freedom, the inspiring nature or amazing technologies we have access to. Try to maintain a grateful perspective during the reflection, and never allow craving or desire to arise, such as wanting to return to the past happy memories, or wishing the present situation was different in some way. Only thanks, only gratitude. Counting our blessings is certainly a simple (if not rather shallow) technique, but it is scientifically proven to be extremely effective at making us happier!
A Deep Breath of Fresh Energy.
As simple as it sounds, this quick and easy technique can energise, motivate and brighten up any moment.
Combining mindfulness meditation of the breath with some imagination, focus your concentration on the feeling of the air enter your lungs as you take a slow deep breath. Explore the sensations as the air brings new life pouring into the body. Notice how the ribs expand and feel the pulsating heart propel fresh oxygenated blood through the body. Vibrant fresh energy radiates from the heart and lungs to fill the chest, then it continues outwards and up to the mind. The next deep breath opens the lungs and further illuminates the chest cavity with a bright energy.
Subsequent deep breaths bring evermore fresh air to your lungs and as the cells absorb the oxygen, feel the bright energy radiating from the lungs and pouring down through the legs, across into your arms and up to the brain. When the whole body is glowing and clear of negativity, your aura is invincible.
There are more ways to energise the body in the free article “Imagination Enhancing Mind Games”.
If you find you regularly benefit from mind cleaning techniques, be aware that more significant decisions actions may provide more significant remedies. How to Avoid Drowning in Stress may help reduce the causes of stress and clarify if a more permanent fix is required.
More Formal Meditation Practices
The above techniques are quick and effective “informal” meditation practices. More traditional meditation tends to work at a deeper level to achieve more tangible and lasting results. To cleanse the mind, on a deeper level, at least 15 minutes per day (or as often as you remember) of silent dedicated concentration will be very effective.
Information and courses on practices such as Mindfulness-Meditation, Vipassana, and other meditation practices are readily available on-line and may form part of your personal Happiness Training Plan from A Good Way To Think.