Can ancient methods calm our modern minds?

Our modern minds are busy, very busy and, in general, that is the way we like our minds to be. We want our jobs challenging and our interests highly diversified. Our social lives consist of a widely varied range of different activities and we are exposed to much more information than ever before in human history.

We continue to educate ourselves, we travel the world, and we constantly try out new things. Our private as well as our professional lives are supported by different technological devices to make communication easier, faster and more efficient. We are permanently available on various channels, we like to update and be updated, we tend to mingle business and leisure, multitask our way through life, and we never finish learning. Life is fun, inspiring. We enjoy getting everything done and we are proud of our many efforts and achievements.

Don’t forget your mind

To be able to maintain today’s fast paced lifestyle it is really important to have breaks and unwind. But not only resting is crucial to recharge our batteries. Physical workout is a great way to relax, burn off energy, and stay in shape. We tend to forget that not only the body needs time-outs but our minds require recreation as well to stay energetic and creative. But what is crucial: relaxing the mind is not only enjoyable but also beneficial for our overall health and wellbeing by reducing our level of stress. 
The importance of having, not only a relaxed and healthy body, but also a well-rested mind is gaining more and more attention and various methods of a more “mindful life” have been promoted lately.

Mind the break

Giving the mind a break should be easy, right? Switching off the mind sounds simple. But it’s much easier said than done. The ancient method of meditation dates back to 1500 BCE. For our purposes I don’t necessarily mean perfectly sitting still as an enlightened Buddhist monk being in peace with the world and rising above all things human. (If you are able to do that, I respectfully bow down to you.) I am referring to a certain awareness or attentiveness that comes with “being in the moment” which is a basic instruction for meditation. “Being in the moment” is often referred to as a way to switch off one’s own thoughts. This means being mindfully aware of what is going on right at that moment not including any thoughts about the past or the future. Have you ever tried to do that?

The downside of multitasking

The mind is not used to performing only one single task at a time. Everyday tasks, such as brushing your teeth, getting dressed or sweeping the floor are never really performed fully aware, because our minds constantly process other things. Since most of us have a lot on their plates, we use these times to plan upcoming tasks, make appointments, solve problems, or even dwell on the past or worry about the future. This can be overwhelming at times and often leaves us with a feeling of dashing through our days with too little time and too much to do. The next time you find yourself multi-tasking, stop.

How to “unwind the mind”old_meets_new_post_it

Training to calm down one’s mind by practicing a certain kind of awareness or by getting into the habit of meditating regularly doesn’t require you to be spiritual in any kind of way, but that is a very common misconception. So, why don’t you try it out yourself? You can start by performing everyday chores by only concentrating on the act itself without thinking about anything else. By that I mean activities you would normally do on “autopilot” such as cleaning the kitchen, having your morning coffee or going to work.Try paying attention to only what you are doing at the very moment.

  • While preparing your next meal, you could try really being in the moment.
  • Concentrate on what you are doing, the texture, the taste and the smell of your ingredients and nothing more.
  •  If your mind drifts of, simply bring your attention back to what you are doing at the moment.

Here is an easy way to start meditation as well as instructions on mindfulness:

Some yoga places in Vienna offer meditation classes as well:

Our mind works so hard and is able to do so many wonderful and absolutely stunning things – it deserves some extra attention and a little break from time to time!

Photo credits:
TJ Photography

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About Elli Kling

Elli loves nothing more than travelling the world & getting to know other cultures. She likes reading, cooking and is obsessed with japanese green tea. She has a background in communications, enjoys writing and is also part of the TEDx Communications & PR Team.

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