Cleaning the Unconscious
How long has it been since you cleaned your house? One week? Three weeks? Maybe it’s been a little while, but: Did you take a shower this morning? My guess is probably you did.
We have different allocations to how and when to clean things. It’s probably pretty rare that you leave the house without having showered or brushed your teeth. But it could have been a couple of weeks since you swiffered under that bed. And you know the dust bunnies are getting busy under there. ;)
So what’s your cleaning schedule for your mind? Maybe you have a therapist, who you unload all your cares onto once a week for a hundred bucks or more. But if I told you that you could only shower once a week, and you’d have to go to some office in midtown and drop a load of cash to do it, you’d say I’m crazy.
And crazy is just what it is, that mental cleaning isn’t built into our routine like a shower. So how do we do it? Well, one way is to think about the 3 M’s. And when you do, think: Mmmmmmmm. Like how good you’ll feel when you have a regular cleansing routine. ;)
My three favorite cleansing “products”? Mantra, meditation, and mindfulness
Mantra: You don’t have to be a Sanskrit expert to practice mantra. Remember our theme a couple of months ago: “Life affirming Mantras?” Well, one of my students reported back to me that she realized she had been kind of stuck in the love and dating department. So she created a mantra: I’m beautiful, I’m sexy, and I’m lovable. (Yeah, I know it sounds a little like Steward Smiley on SNL, but who cares? If it works!) Within 2 weeks of starting that mantra, she got asked out by two people totally out of the blue. (No not online, out in the real world!) She remembers that with one of the guys, she was in conversation with him, and suddenly noticed that how she was holding herself, was kind of closed off. Her arms were crossed and she was kind of slouching. Then in a sudden flash, her mantra, popped into her head, like a ring of a bell. A reminder of what her core beliefs are. She uncrossed her arms and became more engaged in the conversation. In that moment, it was like she could see the floor of her room because it wasn’t covered in clothes and clutter. She saw herself in the moment, and her mantra brought her back to her truth without the clutter of any untrue beliefs which previously made her closed off and un open.
Meditation: If you’re a Jai student, you get the awesome benefit of meditating in every single class you take. It’s within our core class structure, that every class has at least 5 minutes of meditation. This is because, as few people really understand, the entire physical practice of yoga (asana- postures) is all about preparing the body and mind for meditation. We make the body comfortable, by working out all the kinks, so that we can sit and find peace, with as few distractions from the body as possible. During that time, maybe your mind wanders a little. That’s ok! The point of it, is that your practicing how to bring it back from it’s meanderings. This gives you more and more control over where you put your attention on a daily basis. Instead of the mind owning you, you own the mind.
As you sit, notice all the directions your mind goes in, and then gently kindly, pull your attention back to the present moment. You can also use your breath, or your mantra as points of focus if you need something more tangible, than just “here and now.” Ultimately, any effort we put toward getting to that sweet spot in meditation, is mental cleansing. Sometimes those moments bring up very random, thoughts or emotions that we didn’t know we even had. This is like when you clean out that closet, and inevitably find that $20-dollar bill in the previous season’s coat pocket. If you take that time to just sit and be, those subconscious thoughts get a chance to reach the surface. While it might seem scary (I mean, hey we suppressed those thoughts and feelings for a reason.) The way we enter that space, so deeply relaxed, makes allowing those things to surface very safe. When they do, and you are in that deep altered state of peace, they have less power over you. Because we are deliberately pulling the dresser aside to sweep behind it, the dust doesn’t overwhelm, or bother you. You just see it as what it is. No more harmful than a little dust; but it is life altering to get it cleaned out.
Mindfulness: If meditation is like swiffering, then Mindfulness is like the rumba. It’s a practice that can always be on. Mindfulness, means caring for yourself, those you care about, those you have trouble with, and complete strangers.
Being mindful means keeping your thoughts positive clean of unwanted toxins like: jealousy, anxiety, anger, aversion, or obsession. It means keeping balance and perspective in all that you do. It just means stepping back and taking a breath, any time you find yourself going down the rabbit hole of unproductive rumination. So think: use the rumba to clean out rumination.
So this month, as we are smack in the middle of winter, where being “inside” means, being indoors and often in our heads. Take these steps to have a beautifully swiffered, rumba’d mind. So that you can be less weighed down by it, and spend time in other fun places, like the heart and body.