November 28, 2017

This is the Way Out of our Minds. {A Sorta-Meditation}

Sometimes, the last thing I want to do when my mind is heavily clouded by annoyance is to sit still, crossed-legged, eyes shut, breathing deeply while forcing a realm of peace within me.

Each morning, I like to create a mental picture of how I’d like things to go throughout the day—I bet everyone does. This also includes backup plans for how to handle things when the unexpected comes along and interrupts my well planned-out flow.

Sometimes, the magnitude of unexpected events outweighs my capacity for mood stability. I might still be able to handle each situation mentally, but emotionally, they can be tricky to cope with (which actually causes a feedback loop to my mental state).

The main problem is the feeling of annoyance itself when it arises.

Unlike other petty thoughts we can easily shrug off or suck up, forcing ourselves to think about more important tasks—thoughts of annoyance linger and fester.

The last thing I want to do is acknowledge feelings of annoyance with my five senses, let alone shut them down or shift them into “positive thoughts.” I want to address these thoughts and feelings of annoyance the easier and less messy way.

Rather than sitting down and shutting my eyes and focusing on my breath, I seek external sources to provide me a sense of peace.

It might seem like a bad thing to depend on something outside of us. When our minds are stuck on being cranky over one thing though, it usually means that we’ve been spending a lot of time in our own heads. When this happens, those tingly, irksome thoughts fill up our minds and spill all over our senses, creating a bigger mess and making us feel annoyed toward everything.

Sylvia Plath’s words might be echoing in your head now: “Is there no way out of the mind?”

Perhaps, there is.

Crankiness stiffens up and cramps our minds—and our innate desire is to be stretched by, and involved in something bigger than ourselves.

The sky has been the savior to my stiffened mind in many ways. I realized this when I would catch myself subconsciously looking to the sky during times of annoyance. I especially like catching a glimpse when the sky is luminous and blue—with thick, milky puffs here and there, be it through the clear reflection of my swimming pool, from the window in my room, or my car window.

I start by keeping my gaze in the spot where my eyes first landed. Then, I shift my eyes up and around, slowly. Next, with my entire head, I scan the sky—horizontally, vertically, from one end to the other, as far as my sight can reach.

As I concentrate on the sky and its vastness, as I drink up the stillness, I feel those clouds of annoyance dissolving—like how cotton candy reacts to the press of my tongue, until it shrinks into a slight mass of thought.

I also examine how the clouds hover and spread in different forms, patterns, textures, and even hues, and let my gaze play with them. I like to let my eyes glide through the smeared-looking ones, and I love how it feels like I’m polishing up my rough state of mind. I let the puffy ones nudge my fun, imaginative thoughts, and when it’s the early morning or almost sundown, I delight in how the vibrant pinks and oranges fuse together with the more dominant grey tones.

I have come to notice that this unintended meditative practice clears up my mind, without quieting my thoughts. The sky holds a different kind of crowd. It diminishes the irritating thoughts, and allows the relaxing, quirky, necessary, and uplifting ones to emerge.

When I do this while tilting my head out the window, or laying quietly by the pool, it seems in a way like I’m reaching out to the truest version of myself.

I am reminded again and again of how these insignificant thoughts and emotions have held me back.

It reaffirms for me that “I’ve got this.”

So, when you’re having one of these days, try surrendering yourself to the sky.

Instead of forcefully quieting your mind, try immersing yourself in this external, visual source of peace, instead.

Let it remind you how your state of mind should look and feel, and keep coming back to it. Let it remind you 10 times, or even 20. I’ve lost count now, as it’s become part of my day.

It’s comforting and somewhat amusing to know that this source of peace will always be right there. Constantly hovering above each one of us, always ready to give our minds a little pull, or much-needed replenishment.


Author: Sonia Azalia
Image: ElephantJournal on Instagram
Editor: Jen Schwartz
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron

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Sonia Azalia