The Number 1 Way to Get to Know Yourself
Get to know yourself. What does that even mean?
I talked to a woman the other day who said that even if she had the money, power and time to do anything she wanted with her life, she still didn’t know her Self well enough to make a choice.
How can she get to know her Self?
She can get quiet. It sounds so simple, but getting quiet is rare. It’s rare to find the time, the space, the desire to be able to get alone with our thoughts.
One of the most powerful tools I use is to sit with myself for at least twenty minutes a day. When you first start out, just try for five!
When you get quiet, everything you’ve never thought about, should have thought about, or should never think about will come to your mind. One thing I like to do if I’ve been particularly busy is to get a piece of paper and a pen, and when I sit, set a timer for two minutes. Then I close my eyes. During those two minutes, as I get quiet, anything that comes to mind that is important, I write it on the “Penalty Box” paper. Those things can live there, free and clear, waiting for me to take care of them. The most important thing is that they no longer control my mind when I want to be in control of my mind during my quiet time.
Sometimes the mind can behave like a pack of puppies who haven’t seen you all day. Suddenly you give them attention and they go wild!
But we are not our mind or our thoughts. Our mind is a helpful tool, but we can’t let the mind run the show! It’s always thinking, always coming up with new stuff to do or worry about, to obsess over, to fantasize about.
Once those things are catalogued in a quick list, I fold the paper and set it aside, symbolizing me choosing my mental health first. Then, I close my eyes again and get in a comfortable position. Many people prefer to sit in a comfortable position, some prefer to lay down, and even walking would work.
Whatever you choose, make sure your environment is peaceful—free of TV, music, distracting noises.
As you sink into relaxation, concentrate on your breath.
When your thoughts wander, observe them without judgement. The wonderful app Headspace describes this like sitting on the side of a busy road, watching the cars pass. Don’t try to stop them, don’t judge yourself for them. Even if you think “I’m terrible at this!” Just watch that thought come and go, and don’t feel anxious about it.
As you sit quietly, eventually the noise will clear and you will be able to rest in your quiet mind. If your mind stays busy, that’s ok too. Gently remind yourself to think about your breathing, and continue to do that as often as you need to.
At the end of your quiet time, you will find yourself more at peace. No matter what, return to this place every day and you will be able to sit longer and longer, and it will get easier to deal with your mind. It will even get easier to observe the mind when you’re not in quiet time, and your mind is just chattering away! You’ll begin to learn the difference between mind and spirit, and how to direct the mind using the spirit.
So get quiet, relax and experience who you really are.