A Calm, Quiet Mind

Some suggestions and a meditation I have recorded for calming the mind

We are in our third month of lockdown now and no doubt there are many concerns about how much longer does this go on, what happens when it ends, what are the consequences post lock down for a world that has come to a virtual standstill? Perhaps you are struggling with information overload and simply can’t take any more uncertainty – all the various theories out there – the official and unofficial narratives, the arguing, debates that turn hostile. The best thing to do in this scenario is turn off the news and try not to engage too much with social media!

Or perhaps corona is small in comparison to your personal circumstances that may already have been difficult and you now feel marginalised and overlooked, as you don’t have the right to a voice about your concerns. If this is the case you are not alone. There is so much else going on that has been ignored or swept under the carpet in a corona obsessed world but that does seem to be changing now.

Following are a few simple tips for quietening the mind including, at the foot of this post, the first recording that I have published online! I certainly needed some calming techniques myself this past week to navigate the tech that was time consuming and frustrating but in the end fairly simple in order to do this by myself.

So, what can we do when the mind is overactive with worry, fear, catastrophizing, imaginary conflicts and judgements? The first thing to do is not fight it with more negative self talk, this simply fixes your attention on the issue and adds more stress. Another don’t is to try and cover it up with positive thinking; by attempting this we set ourselves up for feeling like a failure, which of course adds to the distress. Aim to be as kind as possible to yourself, in this way success is more likely. Of course if you have already disciplined the mind to quite a degree it is fairly easy to step from negative to positive but this post is about those times when the struggle to do so is more difficult.

Whenever you catch yourself in mental turmoil then realise that the act of noticing this is a significant step, this is you taking a little step back, be sure to acknowledge yourself for this. This could take the form of, for instance, saying to yourself “I have let my thoughts run away with me again, that’s ok, at least I’m noticing”. This in itself brings a few moments of calm as your subconscious registers the kindness of this. Or you could simply say “stop”, firmly but with affection as if you were disciplining a puppy.

From here decide what is needed; if you are a very long way from even attempting a positive thought, never mind a positive feeling, then focus attention as much as possible on a practical task, such as writing a shopping list or planning dinner, or washing the dishes etc. Another fix in the moment is to slow down, when anxious we speed up so deliberately slow down, perform a task slowly, walk slowly, pause every so often and take a deep breath in and very, very slowly, breath out. Open your mouth and stretch the jaw, don’t close your mouth again, this will prevent the jaw clenching and also slow the thoughts a little.

Another fix in the moment is to focus mindfully on our senses, bring your focus to five things you can see, five things you can hear and then five things you can feel, such as sensations of clothes on your skin, a breeze, the feeling in the body as you breathe etc.

If you have a garden or are near a park then take this further, simply lie down and gaze at the sky, or through the branches of a tree. This is calming not only because of the focus upon nature but the physiological act of bringing your gaze upwards takes you out of the kinesthetic sense and therefore out of some of the emotion which may have been triggered by the thoughts. In the next post I will focus on dealing with emotion and include a short audio walking you through a simple release process. But for now I hope you enjoy the following meditation.

Published by Catherine Strang

I have been passionate about health and well-being since my teenage years when a health problem prompted me to use diet to regain my strength. By the end of the 80's I was working as a chef in a Rudolf Steiner based vegetarian cafe in Edinburgh and this led me (through working with some very alternatives types!) to pursue a career as a massage therapist and healer, which I began in 1990. Since then I have trained in many different forms of therapy, including Hypnotherapy, EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming), EmoTrance (a form of deeply mindful emotional processing). I retired completely from bodywork in 2017 and at present only occasionally work as a 1:1 therapist. My focus now is teaching and I have been doing this since 1991 when I taught Aromatherapy and massage courses for the Edinburgh Council Adult Education Programme, by the time I finished these courses in 2000 I had also taught aromatherapy/massage sessions across Edinburgh in Community Centers, Health Projects and a variety of other non profit organisations. By this time however I was beginning to develop Stress Management and later Meditation and personal development courses/sessions and was including corporate settings as well as private teaching events. The list of places I have taught in is extensive and over the past three decades I've no doubt forgotten quite a few! I am dedicated to personal development, health and meditation and bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to each session. I am well aware of the struggles, often hidden from work colleagues, that many go through during the course of their life and endeavor always to be kind, non-intrusive and in a work setting discreet.

2 thoughts on “A Calm, Quiet Mind

  1. Catherine Strang is a consummate professional. Her  voice is euphonious and her words are chosen with great care. They resonate deeply.

    She inspires us to be better people. That is the mark of a person who has a warm heart, a genuine trust in life, a keenness to help others onto a higher spiritual dimension. Not flimsy, shallow spirituality, but authentic.

    This is Catherine’s calling. I guess she’s highly trained with a wealth of experience.

    The scene is set to encourage the listener to find a comfortable, unencumbered space, free of distractions, soft lighting, comfortable temperature, loosened clothing. Things that escape many of our hectic lives.

    Breathing techniques are so important. Catherine guides us with appropriate pauses. Why is it so many feel they have to fill a space, a pause? A form of logorrhea, I suppose. Rather like music. Without the spaces between the notes, even the mellifluous becomes dissonant, harsh. The gaps are as important.

    And that’s where Catherine strikes the perfect balance. A soft phrase, a pause, that important exhalation of breath.

    She has a rare talent of leading without leading. Guides us quietly without judgement. I can learn much from this. Things, situations, people that annoy, anger and frustrate us. Don’t retaliate (unless it’s life threatening of course), but let the calm flow all over us, throughout our bodies. Find it within ourselves to forgive. Not necessarily the heinous, despicable act, but the perpetrator.

    As she spoke, I really could feel myself breathing through the various part of my body. Difficult for me to describe, but a soft rejuvenation flowed freely. It was as if every cell in my body was receiving its much needed nutrition and oxygen.

    I’ve certainly experienced déjà vu in my life and I’ve observed myself from above and outside, but, with Catherine’s help, I found myself easing into this–surreal and real at the same time.

    Envisioning a lake took me back to Crater Lake in the USA. The purest, bluest on the planet. That day, not a cloud in the sky, there were only half a dozen visitors. I sat alone, meditated and wondered at this awe inspiring sight. Thank you, Catherine, for that fond memory.

    Catherine is the genuine article. I’ve encountered many pseudo healers and therapists in my time, who have that superior, manipulative air, as if they’ve seen the light while I’m stuck in the dark.

    In these troubled times, we all will have to reassess our lives, take stock of the insanity around us. Many will have great difficulty in adapting. Stress, anxiety, panic and fear are the arch enemies of our immune system. I should know. I’ve been there and much worse. But, with the help, support and encouragement of a few, we can emerge all the stronger…every time.

    Catherine reminds me of Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘The Thousandth Man’. There’s always that one person in your life who will help you unconditionally. No questions asked.

    Catherine Strang scores 100% in my book. I recommend her highly.

    Like

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