Bills to pay, mouths to feed, emails to answer, places to be.
As life rattles along, we all know how hard it can be hard to find a moment to step away from it all and relax.
And even when we do find the time to do nothing, more often than not, our brains are still whirring away. So how can we take away the stress – and calm the mind?
Make some time for meditation
Meditation in some form dates back thousands of years.
And over time it’s morphed into all manner of things, from tantra to transcendental to mindfulness. Whatever practise you choose, the aim’s the same: to alter consciousness, be aware of the moment and find a deeper sense of inner peace.
Millions of people round the world meditate every day. And super successful people from the business world (like Jeffrey Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn) to the stage (Madonna and Katy Perry) swear by it. Russell Brand, the British comedian and Hollywood actor, calls it a “shower for the brain” and claims it basically saved his life. Paul McCartney claims it helped save the Beatles.
Ditch the smartphone and take a digital detox
It’s hard to imagine life without our smartphones at our side. But they can be pretty damaging to our mental wellbeing.
According to Nielsen, the average US adult spends around 11 hours every day listening to, watching, reading, or interacting with media through their smartphone. And that’s adding up to a lot of unhappy people.
The American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America survey has stated that a fifth of US adults say technology is a source of major stress in their life. Social media, in particular, can be a problem, creating a weird prism where we measure our own lives against other people’s ‘reality’. This can cause a lot of tension and really hurt people’s self-esteem. Whether it’s work, the pull of social media, or just disappearing down a Wikipedia wormhole, try dialling down your mobile phone use and see if that creates a bit of stillness in your life. You don’t have to go totally cold turkey.
Do a mini detox at the end of your workday by putting your phone aside for a couple of hours and concentrating on cooking a meal, reading a book or going for an evening stroll. Even if you’re in the gym and need your phone for music, putting it in airplane mode or turning off notifications can help create a bit of space in your head.
Eckhart Tolle is one of the most popular spiritual teachers on the planet. His book, The Power of Now: A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment, has been translated into 33 languages and sold tens of millions of copies.
For him, we don’t just depend on nature for our physical survival but also our mental wellbeing. We need it to “show us the way home, the way out of the prison of our own minds.
We got lost in doing, thinking, remembering, anticipating – lost in a maze of complexity and a world of problems.” In contemplating nature – its sounds, its smells, its meditative rhythm – we can slow the mind. And nourish the soul.