Clearing the Clutter: Strategies for Maintaining Mental Clarity
I was the kind of person that had a thousand thoughts running through my mind at any given point. When asked what my opinion was about a certain thing, or when trying to feel how I actually felt, it was difficult to find the “right” thought to match with that question.
I’m pretty sure the reason was that I was never alone with my thoughts. Working on the computer half the day, and looking at the phone and the TV the rest of the day.
No time to look inward.
I had heard good things about meditation and decided to give it a shot. I tried Headspace and liked it, so I went all in and got a subscription.
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as getting a subscription and everything falls into place.
Meditation is super difficult.
In the beginning, it was exciting and easier to stay concentrated. Everything was new. The smallest improvement was noticeable.
After staying consistent for a year, it wasn’t as exciting anymore. I didn’t feel I got that much value from it. So I canceled my subscription.
About one year later, I felt like it would be nice to meditate again. I started trying random meditations from youtube, but they got boring pretty quickly. I was missing the voice and structure Headspace had. So I got myself a subscription again. And canceled again after one year…
Other forms of meditation
As you can see, meditation isn’t something that I could do every day for the rest of my life. Not in the “traditional” form at least.
I’ve found other types of meditation that I like. Running is the main one. When training for ultra-endurance races, I spend a lot of time by myself. I choose to use that time wisely. Not listening to music, but listening to my mind and my body.
I also like the Wim Hof breathing exercises. You don’t solely focus on the mind. I get into this high state, where it’s easier for me to focus on my mind.
Key takeaways from meditation
The biggest takeaway Headspace gave me that will stay with me for the rest of my life is this:
The goal isn’t trying to not think, it is to observe your thoughts without too much of an emotional feeling.
They give these two analogies:
Think of your mind as the blue sky, and your thoughts are the white clouds. Just focus on the blue sky, and when a cloud passes by, acknowledge it and let it pass.
Or think of your mind as a highway, and the cars are your thoughts. Focus on the highway, and when a car passes by, acknowledge it and let it pass.