how-to-manage-thoughts-effectively

Your Mind, The Garden | How To Manage Thoughts Effectively

It’s 1:16 a.m. and I find myself staring at the clock. 

Why did this number stick with me from a road-sign I saw while driving up north? Is there some weird synchronicity or something bad that is going to happen at this time or date?

Thoughts flashed through my head as this number and my newfound paranoid/OCD/schizo idea of who I am started to take hold.

This is one of the toughest points in my life. One where I legitimately didn’t control any of my thoughts.

Although, the problem is, we aren’t taught that we aren’t our thoughts and we control them.

Instead, we watch a movie or TV show about a psychologist who diagnosis people with various mental illnesses like Depression, Psychosis, mania, bipolar, and etc… 

Subsequently, this sits in our occipital lobe until its digested by the nervous system and we look outwardly for signs of something being wrong.

In this case, those erratic thoughts are the first sign in a scaling escalation of psychosis or even worse… A horrible life where your mind controls you.

Your Mind, The Garden

The body is a temple, but the mind is a garden.

When we think about a garden we have to think about it on a few different levels. 

  • What we use to nurture the garden
  • What happens when weeds enter the garden
  • How we take care of the garden
  • What type of garden we are trying to build.

On average, every human has between 50,000 – 70,000 thoughts a day.

Likely only 5% of which have any use and are actually positive (let’s hear it for the optimists out there).

That means that, just like an actual garden, there’s often a lot more working against you from creating a beautiful garden then there is for you.

What It Means To Manage Thoughts “Effectively”

Let’s return to the observation that the human mind has between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day.

Most of these are unconscious, yet the unconscious thoughts when pulled into the conscious mind end up taking over our current reality.

In other words, you notice some of these thoughts. They become who you are. 

That’s why managing which thoughts become you and which don’t is important.

Before we continue, I want to run through a little exercise, because you’ll understand our ability to actively control our thoughts.

  1. Sit in a comfortable position
  2. Start to focus on your breath.
    1. Does your stomach move? 
    2. How does the air around your nostrils feel?
  3. When a thought arises to return to the breath or observe the thought.

This should be a quick exercise, as most of our minds are filled with clutter that rises to the surface once we stop trying to think.

And it is in this moment that you begin to understand how thoughts can be managed. You can identify the thought that arose. Not only do you identify it, you disassociate it from who YOU actually are.

Ultimately, this is the power you have over your mind, to control it completely.

Yet, in order to do that there are a few strategies and ideas we need to explore so that it sits easy in the mind.

How To Tend the Mind

Our minds do not think linearly. We don’t have one thought at a time in one pattern or one sequence.

We sway up and down depending on the amount of food we have, the time of the month, weather, and just about everything else that affects us.

Now, back to the analogy of the mind like a garden…

There are 4 crucial areas, that parallel, the garden which we need to walk through in order to understand how to really encourage our minds to grow properly, without all the negative thoughts.

What We Use To Grow The Garden

If you’ve ever seen an organic garden vs. a traditional GMO filled garden then you know that fertilizers and what’s used to grow the garden drastically change the end product.

For instance, we need sunlight. The parallel to that is light and happy thoughts.

Our mind feeds off of our dreams, goals, and intentions. Continually feed it garbage thoughts, garbage music, and dreary nastiness and we end up with weeds sprouting around the garden. 

Just like a garden, our mind utilizes a lot as fuel. Although, the first and most important is the information and self-talk we use.

Feeding our mind good information (not the news or the latest political debacle) will ensure coherence in thought. Add some positive self-talk to that and you have the beginnings to a beautiful garden.

What To Do When Weeds Grow

Negative thoughts or weeds, need to be a bit reframed. Often we fall under the guise that we are our thoughts, but in fact, we create our thoughts which then shape us.

When you have a negative thought (weed) don’t aim to destroy it. It is part of you. Instead, realize that organic matter is the perfect fuel. Pluck the weed and let it be digested and used for more productive matters.

That means removing it from your garden (disassociating yourself from the negative thought) and instead, letting it decay into detritus which can be used for fuel.

Negative thoughts go away more peacefully when you aim to remove them peacefully.

How To Take Care of The Garden

Just like a garden, our minds need to be taken care of. 

Meditation, self-talk, new ideas, positive thoughts, good music, they can all play into the overall being of who you are.

There is a caveat here. 

Antidepressants and any other mood modulators work a lot different. Go outside and spray roundup onto your garden… Not only does it kill the weeds but just about anything it touches (yes, even humans).

Antidepressants take who you are and shut you down. They numb you. They don’t make you happy, they just make you not depressed. And they disrupt the beautiful chasm of thought within your head.

Too Much Too Fast, How Thoughts Take Time To Grow

On the other hand, when we use something artificial or try to hard to make good thoughts grow, we often will hit an impasse.

Forced growth often leads to a mutation or divergence from the original intention.

That goes for anything. Especially creating a mind full of positive thoughts that fuel you.

By nursing thoughts, but not forcing good ones to start and bad ones to wither, we create a productive environment for growth.

What Does The Garden End Up Looking Like

In practice, we can explore the mind’s garden and what it will look like, although, similar to how we experience our mind, unforeseen elements likely will have some play.

While we can’t account for everything that we can account for, there’s always the possibility that we haven’t faced much of our own mind yet.

For instance, I often talk about psychedelics

No, not because I’m trying to go out to a rave later this week, but because of its ability to act like an excavator and dig up everything that you’ve been suppressing.

It takes time to get used to this happening, and of course, this is the reason that many people think a bad trip is dangerous.

Yet every time, it helps me see something that I had not seen in a while or ever about myself.

Ultimately your garden will look however you choose it to look. It could be filled with money trees, roses, Japanese bonsai trees, or whatever of your choosing.

Just remember, it is your garden, what you tend to flourishes and what you leave untended (weeds) takeover.

Maintenance and Monitoring of Your Mind

Now we are on to the practical.

How do you actually maintain the clarity of mind.

Routines

While this may sound like one of the most simplistic activities you can build, setting up routines is important.

Yes, it does require work, but work that pays off.

If I don’t get to complete any version of my morning routine (15,30,45 minutes) then I often don’t have the clarity I need.

Getting out of bed and having some accomplishment to do right away, keeps your mind aligned on a path. After that, you can look at your phone, emails, and etc.

Routines are the foundation to a day, whether you set one or don’t, you have one.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the perceived effort to establish a routine takes up less energy than not establishing one.

In the end, routines give you energy, and the lack of a routine takes energy.

Working-In

Paul Chek coined a term working in.

Most of us work out, yet very few of us work in.

By taking time to internalize and really get to work within yourself, you’ll have control of yourself.

Take, for instance, journaling. There’s a lot to work out every day, most of which can’t be just a mental conversation. Pick up a pen and piece of paper and try some journaling.

Or of course, there is meditation. 

Besides from sitting there chanting aum (a 30-min meditation which I often do) you can meditate in many different ways.

One of which, is reading poetry or spiritual literature and taking time to get into a meditative contemplation after reading thought-provoking verbiage. 

And the list goes on and on. 

Work in at least once daily.

Relax

This is the last part, something that I can’t stress enough.

Relax.

Take breaks, center yourself in the present moment, and realize that all of the struggles up there are just that… Up there, in your mind.

Often we get disillusioned to our current reality. We fall trapped inside the chasm of our mind and it completely takes over who think we are.

Anyone who has ever had a panic attack knows that.

The more that we egg on and rely on that thought process, the more it slowly takes over our mind.

Until we are X (bipolar, depressed, schizophrenic) and continue to create that illusion over and over again.

Instead, when we can relax, and realize that nothing matters, it fades away.

An exercise that I love to do when my mind is racing is to tell it that it can think anything.

Literally anything it wants to think.

You know what happens? It realizes it doesn’t want to think anything and just stops thinking.

And sometimes that is how our life works.

The more we try to stop something, the harder it becomes to stop.

Until we move out of the way and let it move past us.

If you enjoyed this article and want more, make sure to join the email list.

Otherwise, I hope this helps give you some peace of mind.

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