To-do lists. Holiday shopping. Costume buying. Frantic schedules. Work. Extracurricular activities. Fall parties. Kids. School events. Anniversaries. Dishes. Reminder! Social media notifications! Sticky notes! NONSTOP ALERTS!
We are facing a never-ending list of tasks. With all of the hustle and bustle of the busiest season of the year quickly approaching, it is more important now than ever to dial things back and take a moment to slooow down.
As allergy and flu-season comes upon us and our schedules kick into high gear, the need for self-care is at an all-time high. This sounds good in theory, but the truth is we get so caught up in being busy and doing all of the “things,” that we forget to take some time to just be.
When we do get that rare opportunity to just sit, to breathe, our minds are still racing so fast about what is coming up and what still needs to be done or what we should be doing instead, that we don’t actually experience the benefits of our quiet time. These things, these thoughts, are your cobwebs. They are the tangled mess of distraction that get you stuck “in your head.” These cobwebs have taken you captive as their prey!
So what can we do, How to clear your mind of those unnecessary thoughts, or “mind cobwebs?”
First, ask yourself: What cobwebs are taking up unnecessary space in your head?
What things begin to come to mind when your head hits the pillow at night? What thoughts begin to take over when you lay down in yoga for savasana? As you drive in silence without the kids in the car and the music turned off, what lists begin to race through your mind at lightning speed? What negative self-talk distracts you as you try to get through your work day?
It has been said, What you think, you become, and Thoughts become things. If we are caught up in the cobwebs of our mind, our sticky mind chaos, constantly, then we too become frazzled, tangled messes of chaos, too.
Use those thoughts to create an actual image in your mind
Think of the image of a cobweb. The very center of that web is where we start with one thought in our mind. We might think, “Ugh, I have so much to do! I just CAN’T do it all.” Then our web spins a little larger outward. If our thought is not let go of, it becomes, “Oh, everybody else can handle everything they are supposed to do. Why can’t I?” Then that ring of the web expands and we think, “I suck at this! I can’t do anything right!” Wider. “I don’t deserve to have a break, or to be happy for that matter! People like me don’t deserve good things!”
And before you know it, you are down the rabbit hole of negative self-talk, degrading yourself, caught up as prey in the cobweb of your mind. You become stuck in your own web, the web you yourself created! One simple thought is all it takes to get the ball rolling, or perhaps, to get the spider spinning!
Use meditation to clear those cobwebs.
The goal of meditation is to cleanse your mind of unnecessary thoughts, so that the thoughts that do enter can be merely observed and passed over. It helps us regain control of our thoughts instead of the other way around. As we observe thoughts and let them go, when we do not feed into them, we give them no extra energy to keep snowballing.
So how do we ACTUALLY learn to keep our mind still?
The answer is simple: PRACTICE! If we go back to that first initial thought, “Ugh, I have so much to do! I just CAN’T do it all.” and pause, take a breath, we can change the course of this spinning web. Perhaps we can stop it from even forming at all. Each time we have a thought that doesn’t serve us, all we need to do is simply take one moment to breathe.
Each time we make a conscious effort to stop a thought train by taking one simple breath, we equip ourselves a little better for the next time. As we practice taking this brief moment, the next time gets a little easier. This breath allows us the moment of opportunity to re-focus ourselves.
We may not be successful every time. Some days, we are going to fall short of this goal, we WILL fall prey to these cobwebs. But the key is to remember that each attempt and each failure is another opportunity for growth.
Just as babies don’t learn to walk the first time they try it, we can’t learn to stop feeding our thoughts energy the first time we try. But, each time a wee babe falls, they get back up and try again. They don’t yet know how to quit. So, we must, too, like little children, retrain ourselves to get back up. FOGET HOW TO QUIT. Keep trying. Have grace and compassion for yourself.
Create a mind without cobwebs
As we learn to clear these cobwebs, as we learn how to stop creating them in the first place, we can begin to function with more direction and a more positive self-image.
With time and practice, taking a moment to breathe can turn into a minute, which turns to five, which turns into a day, which turns into a life of mindfulness and loving kindness for ourselves.
And then, just like magic…HOCUS, POCUS! We are focused and the cobwebs have been cleared away and we are now ready to tackle life with more clarity, from a place of love and of grace!