The Power of Silence – When the Mind Clears, Wisdom Appears
I’m in week 1 of my Transformative / Profound Well-being Coaching training and our homework for this week is:
- Getting curious and noticing how I feel/act when my mind if full vs how I feel when my mind is clear.
- Getting curious and noticing what’s the difference when I’m on my game / in the flow vs ‘off my game / out of flow’
Before I even started my reflections on those questions, I ‘coincidentally’ stumbled upon an interesting Zen story which I’d love to share with you:
A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor’s cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. “It’s full! No more will go in!” the professor blurted. “This is you,” the master replied, “How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup.”
In the last three weeks my mind has been very full. Just back from a holiday in Wales, me and my family somehow entered a whirl wind storm of happenings, events and things to do. There was so much going on and it all felt urgent. My head felt like the overflowing cup of the professor. My head was spinning.
It’s a horrible feeling when I am in this state of mind! My brain feels tight and constricted, I feel and act agitated and short tempered. It feels like I’m stuck in a big grey thunderstorm cloud. It’s like I’m wearing the wrong glasses and I see everything blurry. I can’t see clearly. Over all I feel I’m in a low mood and I seem to be in a non-stop rush.
I wonder how I got stuck her and whether my thinking Mind has got an emergency Exit!
You may recognize yourself being in this state of mind when reading this. I’m pretty sure actually that with the lives we live in this modern fast paced 20thCentury, 95% of humanity finds itself in this State of Mind. This includes our children!
Our thinking is not our life!
The shocking fact is that when we don’t recognize this state of mind we think it is our life! We live in our thoughts!
But there’s good news. What is going on in our heads, it is NOT our life! It’s just thinking going on. However, with our thinking we create our experience of life. With our thinking we create our feelings. Thought and feeling are one. Always! No exception. This is 100% true for everybody! This experience becomes our so called ‘reality’. We think this reality is our real life. It’s not! It’s just a ‘story’ or drama created from Thought.
For those of you who are familiar with The Three Principles by Sydney Banks will already have grown a certain level of understanding of this fundamental principle of life. If you have never heard of The Three Principles, please visit the post in which I explain what they are. They will blow your mind and change your life!
But first back to my Full Mind State:
I know of myself I get into this state when I just have too many things to do in a short space of time. I was burnt out once or twice in my life and I recognize the signs of overwhelm. Over the years, I learned to not plan too much in one day. I make sure I don’t have too much on my plate. I like and need breathing space. Space to digest and process life, space for getting inspired, space to just be and enjoy.
Now ‘normally’ I’m quite skilled at organizing my life in a way that I don’t get too reved up and busy like I was in the last three weeks. This time I somehow didn’t read the signs in time and here I am…
My mind looks and feels like this:
And this is where I want to be:
When the mind clears, wisdom appears…
Why you may wonder? I often ask this question to the children I teach yoga and mindfulness. Isn’t it a bit boring to have not so much on your mind? And don’t we definitely feel more important when we’re all busy with lots going on in our lives and heads if we’re honest?
There’s several reasons why we would want a calm mind versus a cluttered and full mind with lots of thinking going on.
Speaking for myself, but I know this is true for the rest of humanity too, I am a much nicer person when I am in a calm state of mind and secondly, things just seem to go more in flow, as if life unfolds easily all by itself, without me having to figure it all out and without me having to work and strive so hard. How is that possible?
Now here’s the thing, and this is so important to understand. Imagine we all have an in built intelligent GPS navigation system inside ourselves. Like the Satnav in our cars. Just like the Satnav this ‘system’ is telling us when to turn left, when to go the right, where to expect obstacles on the road and where to slow down when there are speed camera’s. This system is called our Wisdom or our Intuition.
Now imagine you are in the car and you have the radio on high volume and you have several passengers traveling with you and they are chatting loudly on the back seat. Would you be able to hear the Satnav? It would be very hard indeed and chances you get lost are big because of not having heard clearly what the Satnav was trying to tell you.
This same principle we can apply where it comes to having a clear mind and our wisdom guiding us through our lives. Our own wisdom is unique to us. Only your wisdom knows what’s right for us. No one and nothing else outside ourselves can beat this! However, it is rooted into something much larger than ourselves.
Wisdom is waiting to break through any moment
Wisdom is sourced from a space called Universal Mind or some people call it The Universe, or The Great Spirit, The Source, God, it doesn’t matter what name we give it, they all refer to the same Principle: it’s the intelligence behind ALL life that is powering everything in our world. It is the force that makes your hair and nails grow and makes an acorn grow into an Oak.
Deeper feelings of love, peace and joy share this spacious home with wisdom. It speaks through us when we fall into the grace of Silence. Silence allows new and fresh thinking to pass through our minds. When our minds are open and empty, there’s room for what we call inspiration! To inspire, to breathe in new ideas and new thinking.
It is inspiration that leads to ‘wisdom inspired action’. How can we recognize action inspired by wisdom? It is a doing which seems effortless. We are ‘in the flow’. Our own often small-minded personal thinking gets out of the way and gives way to something we couldn’t have imagined before. Life itself has taken over. The quality of this process is more one of an ‘allowing’, rather than a ‘doing’.
As soon as our thinking settles, as soon as we have a little less going on in our minds, we start to reconnect to that what is larger than ourselves. We start to reconnect to who we truly are beneath all the noise of our thinking.
2 Easy steps to find back our calm state of mind
Although ‘in theory’ a calm state of mind is ever only one thought away (really, I know right!), sometimes it can seem like we are really stuck in our minds and we can’t seem to find the way out. When we are in overwhelm it can be very hard to find the way out. What can we do?
1 Thinking Recognition
The first step back to a calm mind is to recognise that there is a lot of thinking going on in our head. Shifting our attention to the observation THAT we are thinking as opposed to the content of our thinking. This seems like a minor shift but it has huge consequences.
OK. Let’s do it: I am recognizing there’s tons of thinking going on in my head and I am convinced I have every excuse for it!
I look at what’s happening in my life right now and realise there’s a lot on my plate:
I’m running my own business (Young Yogis Academy) which involves teaching classes, one-to-one sessions and facilitating teacher trainings, I’m coordinating home schooling for my 12 year old daughter which all has been very messy and challenging in the first weeks of starting up again, I’ve signed up for this amazing Transformative Coaching training and I’m also involved in a marketing training.
I’m supporting my husband who’s the Manager of the Community House where we live (sharing a house with 20 other tenants comes with lots of ‘stories’ to digest), who is also looking after his brother with special needs, and who’s also a tv director and musician.
As everyone having a family, big or small, knows; it is not only about your own agenda. In other words, I’m busy with family life in general, and then not to forget the day-to-day stuff like running errands, cooking healthy meals and keeping the house in a decent state.
Oh, and did I mention we are in the process of finding a new place to live because our Landlord is selling. And it might mean moving from the UK back to my home country The Netherlands for several reasons which I won’t go into but you can imagine this is also on my mind.
Summing this up, I know this is too much to hold in my mind really and I realize that over the last three weeks I definitely lost my mojo, my flow. Little things started to go wrong and break down under my hands. Things that I have to sort out immediately. At least it feels that way. There’s this sense of urgency with everything when I’m in a Full Mind State and it feels there’s just not enough time in one day…
We all recognize ourselves in finding excuses for why are minds are so chocca full and how we can’t help this. It is our life circumstances, events and happenings that cause our minds to be cluttered and filled up.
So stop here for a moment and take three deep breaths. Just do it! And start recognizing THAT you are caught in the act of thinking and stop focusing on the content of this thinking for just a little while.
As soon as I have recognized I am thinking I am ready for the second step:
2 Slow Down!
After recognizing and identifying the state we’re in we have the choice to get off the thought train and slow down!
Do something that has NOTHING to do with all the content of your thinking, the things you are so busy with. Go for a walk in nature, jump on your yoga mat, do exercise, clean your house or sit still (if you can!) and just breathe. What ever you choose to do, do it slow and with all of your attention!
Its exactly what I did myself yesterday. The sun was out here so after breakfast in the garden I decided to go for a walk indeed. I needed to slow down for sure…things were spinning out of control and I felt too caught up in it all. We are so blessed to have the forest on our doorstep. I often go for this same walk, nearly every day (to keep me sane), but I have been walking with my husband a lot recently and we end up chatting and ‘talking things through’ and figuring things out.
This morning, walking on my own I realized I just need Silence. I realized that all the talking about what is happening in our lives is of course necessary till a certain degree, but too much talking fires up my mind and keeps it busy and full. It can’t settle into a calmer state.
So this morning I walked in silence, taking in the beauty and all the surrounding sounds. Along the way I did some simple exercises, some deeper breathing while resting under a tree and I felt that the simple act of walking just reorganizes all of my bodily energy systems, including my mind.
I can’t describe the feeling. You know the Snow Globe thing we used to shake as children? My thoughts were like the snow whirling around in every direction. When we stop shaking, the snow slowly settles down. Aaaaaah!
This is exactly what happened in my mind on my walk. Just noticing the green of the trees (how my brain loves the green!), the twittering of the birds, the babbling of the stream helped me become still and finally I felt all my whirling thoughts starting to settle gradually, a little more with every step and every breathe. just like the snow in a snow globe settles when the shaking stops and the globe is clear.
By the time I was on my way back home, my mind had cleared. Feelings of joy and gratitude gently bubbled up. The joy of just being able to move my body freely, and the gratitude for so much beauty around me. I felt lighter.
A calm state of mind helps problems dissolve
You know what the funny and fascinating thing is that happens as a result of slowing down to the speed of now? With the piles of thinking I had on all sorts of stuff, I had created all sorts of problems.
Being in a calmer and clearer state of mind helped me See that there were no problems at all really, I just made them up.
By being in a calm and clear state of mind our problems are not resolved, they are dissolved.
I thank and bow to nature and silence for this powerful gift of helping us fall back into ease and grace and into a peaceful state of mind. I love the way nature and silence is reflecting back who we truly are, innately healthy and at ease and peace. Always.
By recognizing thinking happening inside our heads and slowing down we fall into remembering who we truly are underneath all the noise of our busy mind, all the stories and drama’s we create because of the biggest misunderstanding in life, which is to believe our thoughts and feelings are separated. They are not.
Thought = feeling
Thought equals our feeling. Our experience of life, always (without exception) comes from the inside out. Understanding this will cause an ‘inside-out revolution’ in our lives.
Automatically and naturally, without us having to figure it all out, things fall into place. The profound understanding of this principle is enough. Wisdom has an answer to everything and is waiting to break through your mind any moment.
I’ve realized I made myself to believe I have to ‘keep up’ (what ever that means?) with everything and everyone which made me feel stressed. Hereby, I’ve just dropped the thought! Boof!
If you feel inspired to find out more about how this works and deepen your understanding on the Three Principles, I would recommend watching this video by Dicken Bettinger: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Td05FQbASPE and many more on http://www.threeprinciplesmovies.com.
Today, for the first time this month, I finally feel some space inside. Nothing has changed outside myself, there’s all these things to do still. I just feel more calm about it. I can honestly say, my sense of urgency has dissolved or I left it somewhere in the forest during my walk.
I have several (kids yoga) classes to teach this afternoon and I know they will be so much better coming from this space and calm state of mind.
If you have any questions or would like to share something or if you need a hand in any way, do let me know in the comment space below.
Wishing you a beautiful day and remember to go slow!
Love & Blessings,
Founder of Young Yogis® Academy| Creator of Yogadance® Kids Method | (Kids) Yoga Instructor | Biodanza/Vitaldanza Facilitator | Waldorf Primary School Teacher | Teacher Trainer | Well-being Educator | Transformative / Three Principles Coach (in training) | Cat and Ice cream lover | Dutch | Traveling House sitter| Wife and Mother