SIX SIMPLE STEPS TO A HAPPIER HEALTHIER YOU
 
STEP 4
5 to 30 Minutes of Quiet Time Every Day

 

The mind is an amazing instrument, like a powerful computer capable of running 24 hours a day. It never forgets anything, although it does put things into a deep storage, or sub conscious, from time to time.

 

The problem for many people is that they cannot “switch off” the hamster wheel, or what I call “monkey chatter” going on in their minds. Do you feel bombarded with reminders about things you need to do, have forgotten to do, conversations you have had, thoughts and feelings about others, and countless other “messages” the mind sends covering all aspects of your life? This bombardment often leads to stress, insomnia, emotional swings or a feeling of “living on your nerves”.

 

Your body responds to the way you think, feel and act. This is often called the “mind/body connection.”

 

When you are stressed, anxious or upset, your body tries to tell you that something isn’t right. This could come in the form of high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, stomach pains, stiff neck or back pain. These may be problems with the physical body but they could also be messages that your” emotional health” is not right.

 

So how do you combat this?

 

Your mind needs to rest, just like your physical body, and for that you need quiet time.

 

Whilst you can distract your mind for a while, perhaps during Qigong practice, or by becoming completely absorbed in a book, or carrying out a complicated task, the effect is often temporary, and the chatter soon returns. Some very few fortunate, people are able to truly “shut off” during meditation, allowing their minds to rest and recuperate. But what if you are not one of those people?

When I was suffering from stress I was advised to meditate, but could not make it work for me.

 

Being asked to clear my mind was an impossible task, and I found it all very frustrating, which added to my stressed mental state. When I found the ‘secret’ I was delighted and now I look forward to my quiet time every day. I realised that I needed to treat the thoughts my mind was sending me like my work ‘in-tray’. If I ignored the daily post the work pile would just get bigger and bigger! I also realised that the bigger the backlog of messages, or post, that my mind was storing, the longer it would take to empty and the more chaotic I would feel.

 

I discovered out how I could create the quiet time I craved, which worked for me and also for countless clients I have worked with.

How to be Quiet

 

Pick a time of day that is right for you. Some people like to take a few minutes just before they go to bed and others prefer first thing in the morning. Your time could be just before the school run, just after lunch or while in the bath. We are all different. You may find that you need 5 minutes one day and 30 minutes the next. There are no rules, be guided by your own needs and if you want to be quiet all day, and you have the time, then do it!!

 

Make sure you have a notepad and pen handy. Get comfortable. Sit, stand or lie in good posture. Switch off the TV, music and other distractions. You have to give yourself time to settle down when you begin, which is not easy. To begin with, try breathing in and out through your nose and allowing your mind to concentrate on feeling the breath passing in and out of your nose.

 

THIS IS WHERE MANY PEOPLE GIVE UP

 

What usually happens next is that you begin to relax and your body becomes uncomfortable or you become aware of tension or pain. You need to move and shuffle around until you find a more comfortable position. Don’t think that you have to be absolutely still, this is not the case. Fidgeting and changing position is quite normal. You may need to choose a different chair, remove some tight clothing or put on something warmer! You may need to do some gentle stretching movements to release the physical tension in your body before you settle again and re-start the ‘being quiet’ process. You are discovering a lot already. You are finding the best way for YOU to be comfortable. You are finding out what works and what doesn’t. Do not think that you cannot do this. You can, what you are experiencing is NORMAL.

 

IF YOU GOT THIS FAR KEEP GOING AND READ ON

 

Although the ultimate goal is to sit quietly with a clear empty mind you are unlikely to achieve this at such an early stage. The moment you try to be quiet your mind fills with a thousand thoughts!

 

THIS THE SECOND STAGE WHERE PEOPLE GIVE UP

 

When your mind fills up with thoughts it is, in effect, giving you some of the backlog of messages that have to be sorted out. Think of these messages just like your own daily post. Take each one as it enters your mind. They may relate to anything….things you have forgotten to do, things you need to do today, or tomorrow, things you feel bad about, things you need to talk about. It often helps to write down some of these thoughts so you can deal with them later, and your mind can clear them away. After doing this remember to settle back into a comfortable position and concentrate on your breathing again. This will get easier with practice. Do not worry if you day dream a little, this is all part of the process.

 

You may find that you have months or even years of “post” to deal with. Be prepared for the first few weeks to be hectic. You will not manage it in one 5 minute sitting so pace yourself, don’t give up. Eventually you will find that you are only dealing with recent “post” and once that has been sorted you can let your mind rest. The more you practice the easier this process becomes and you will be able to sit quietly anywhere at any time that you need to. Your body and mind become used to this new skill and settle into it quickly and easily. The time spent sorting the “post” will become shorter and the time allowing everything inside to be still and quiet will be longer.

 

Some of the issues your mind brings to your attention may relate to events, relationships, people or situations that are continuing to affect your emotional well-being. Step 6 offers some suggestions on how to handle this.

* Senior Instructor Member of the Tai Chi Union for Great Britain
* Member of the Complementary Medical Association (CMA)
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