“Your own mind is a sacred enclosure into which nothing harmful can enter except by your permission.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Do you have days when you feel a little out of control? Maybe even a little crazy? I sure do. Sometimes events spiral out of my control (surprise surprise!), my emotional center veers off balance, and it’s like someone turned the world upside down.
I actually think that’s pretty common for a lot of us. Not everyone has the inner tools to quickly bring themselves back to center.
You see, the mind is wily. Like a toddler who manages to discover every opportunity to sow the seeds of chaos, our minds are calibrated, through both habit and evolution, to trigger strong emotional responses.
Recently I saw this depicted in a powerful way. Ruby Wax, the author of Sane New World, described the evolution of stress and how it relates to present-day reality.
Managing Our Primitive Mind
For millions of years, our bodies and minds were conditioned to trigger the release of adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormone) when we perceived a mortal threat, like a deadly Tyrannosaurus Rex. In those moments, we were gripped by the famous fight or flight response. It was an evolutionary response to danger.
But these days, according to Ruby Wax, we are still governed by that primitive conditioning. The mind still triggers the release of powerful hormones into our bodies, but now the threats are more subtle. Your boss says something unsettling, you see something horrific on 24-hour cable news, or someone cuts you off on the road.
The next thing you know, you are in the grips of a hormone-induced response. Your rational faculties all but disappear and you’re jacked up on adrenaline. Suddenly you’re ready to go head to head with a dinosaur or run for your life and you’re not even sure how you got into that state.
That’s the power of our biology to override our rationality and knock us off balance. And worse, this often happens when we aren’t so conscious of it. So then we get into a spiral with negative thoughts, anxiety, and we’ve truly jumped down the rabbit hole.
4 Tips For How To Center Your Mind & Your Self
So how do you reclaim your mind and your senses? How do you come back into balance? And even more to the point, how do you begin to train yourself to break some of these unconscious, reactive, and deeply ingrained habits that knock you sideways?
Because these things have a dramatic effect on your quality of life. And it’s not only possible to change the pattern. I think it’s critical if you want to thrive and live a life of mindful presence, balance, and growth.
And I’ve found that meditation and mindfulness are incredibly effective tools to bring you back to center. Here’s what I mean.
Mindfulness practice has shown me how I end up generating self-inflicted emotional drama. It has also helped me learn how to anticipate stress before it gets out of control. And it has taught me the power of relaxation. But perhaps one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is how to keep from losing my center.
So let’s break it down and look at these four areas where meditation and mindfulness can help you center your mind and your self when it matters most.
- Anticipate Stress
- Diffuse Internal Drama
- Relax, Relax, Relax
- Stay Grounded & Centered