Have you ever noticed how many thoughts and feelings do you experience in a day? Scientists say more than 6,000!
Think of the last time you woke up being anxious about an exam, uncertain if you’re going to do well, fearing that you might have forgotten something important, stressed to solve the problems within the time allocated, relieved it was over, yet impatient to see the results…? That’s 6 in just one event, and if you dive deeper, you could break down the feelings and thoughts even more.
The bad news is, there is no end to this. Life is full of exams; they just disguise differently along the journey. Don’t worry, we will get you prepared. So, buckle up!
What we want to achieve is a well-functioning mind that is helpful to us. Don’t you think it’d be cool if you’re mind acted as your best friend (and not your worst enemy) and always had your back in whatever you do?
The role of our mind
What is the role of our mind? Imagine as if your mind was a vast factory working 24/7 manufacturing your thoughts. Your thoughts are the products of the factory. Your mind runs “conveyer belts of ideas, theories, arguments, prejudices, doubts, beliefs, dreams, imagination, aspirations and the whole gamut of feelings, from joy to despair.”(Writer unknown, but what a great expression!). To summarize, the three products of our mind are thoughts, feelings, and desires.
Find the useful outlets
You are the operator of the factory- your mind.
I like to visualize a little Arquilian sitting inside my head, operating my mind intelligence. Men-in-black? Is that still relevant? Anyway, google it if it’s not ringing the bell.
The only issue with this metaphor is that a factory can be physically forced into closure. In contrast, a mind cannot be stopped from thinking.
Also, the rule here is that you do not have control over your thoughts directly.
Your sole job is to maintain the state of the factory as healthy and efficient as possible, not by changing your product(=thoughts) but optimizing the factory(=mind) itself by plugging in the valuable outlets.
In other words, take your attention from the outcomes out of your control and see a bigger picture. How can you optimize the environment? For example, do some training, upgrade your equipment, organize and clean the facilities, or revise the production flow, etc. The point is to shift your attention from the products on the conveyer belt into something else that can indirectly impact maintaining your factory healthy and efficient.
OK. Enough of metaphors.
Here is my suggestion. In real life, when you find yourself caught up with thoughts in your mind, find a more useful outlet for your energy. It could be any form of sports activities, art creation, listening to music, podcasts or audiobooks, cleaning, and organizing… It’s essential to engage in something that can stimulate your 5 senses.
Come to your senses!
Our mind has 6 main cognitive or mental faculties; imagination, will, perception, intuition, reason, and memory. The faculties of imagination and memory create a peculiar relationship for our minds with time. We are stuck in our thoughts because our mind lives in the future or in the past. Suppose you want to stop suffering over your memory of things that happened in the past or imagine something that might occur in the future. In that case, the best antidote is to come to your senses in the present.
Coming to your senses means you direct your attention and energy to your sensations. It is best achieved when you engage in a rhythmic motion or coordinated breathing – it can be just breathwork or running(think runners’ high state of mind). Engaging in creativity could also help if you can direct all your energy into your senses. In that case, using your hand to feel the art, such as in pottery or painting, would be more helpful than merely appreciating art at sight.
To be better prepared for life challenges, you need to learn how to not let the mind take you over and tricking you into believing that you are your thoughts. Thoughts are objects(products); you are the subject(factory operator)- the Archilian! Remember to separate this constant stream of thoughts by “observing” the products on the conveyer belt. You have little control over them, so focus your energy on bringing your mind into an altered state of consciousness by engaging your senses, whatever it means for you.
I hope that helps bring a perspective, and you will know what to do when your mind goes manic.