I have an unexpected “free” day. I’d blocked off my schedule to work on a talk I’m giving this weekend, but my partner-in-crime couldn’t make it.
So, rather than pout over an unexpected change of plans (which is utterly not surprising on a day when messenger Mercury is changing directions), I’m declaring today my personal “clear my mind’s stage” day.
As you well know, modern life is often chaotic. Our technology plugs us in 24/7. Someone is always asking for something. We’re waiting for others to get back to us. There’s a constant hum of exchange going on.
While we’re caught in the whirl, other things pile up around us: At home, dishes, laundry and mail; at work, email, files, voice messages. Plus the things we want to accomplish: write a book, update a website, set up a financial plan. The to-do list keeps growing and growing.
Clear Your Mind’s Stage
Your mind, like a faithful servant, is trying to keep track of it all for you. But, while your mind’s storage capacity may be limitless, what can be on your mind’s stage at any one moment is not.
This mind’s stage — what can receive your conscious attention in the present moment — is one of your most precious resources!
You see, if your mind is busy trying to remind you of all the things you’ve forgotten, or are nagging you to do, those things are pushing their way onto the stage to get your attention. And if you’re trying to focus on something else, you’ll have to use mental energy to shove them back off your stage so you can concentrate.
However, your mental energy is also limited. So eventually you run out. And the horde of thoughts overruns the stage. You’re distracted, exhausted, and end up giving in by checking out — watching tv, surfing the internet, use drugs or alcohol to shut out the noise.
It’s time to break the cycle.
Starting with this: Take out the trash.
A lot of the stuff in our physical space — and in our minds — we just don’t need. It’s just distracting us from even being able to figure out what’s important to us.
And much of it is really easy to get rid of, it truly is just trash.
Take Out the Trash
To prove this in practice, let’s try an experiment.
Take a moment, get up, and empty the garbage cans. Take it out to the trash bin. While you’re at it, take out the recycling too.
Now notice how you feel. One thing. Done. And you have a little more space to breathe. Maybe a little better?
Not sure yet? Let’s look around again. What’s one more thing you can do to get rid of useless clutter easily. (I’ll give you a hint, it’s usually laundry or dishes if you’re at home, putting away files if you’re at work.) Now do that one thing.
Woot! You’re on a roll. Once you get some forward momentum built up, it’s easier to keep moving forward.
So start with something else. Right now. Keep the momentum going!
(Shoo! I’m going to do it too.)
When you need a break, we’ll talk more about the Zen of the Mind Dump.