Our thinking plays a huge part in our experience of the world and our perception of who we are, so it’s worth our while to have awareness of our thoughts and look after our minds. Taking care of our bodies has been pretty mainstream for a long time (even if we don’t necessarily act on that awareness), but taking care of our minds is a relative new kid on the block of everyday wellbeing. Something for all. Not just the devoted few who appreciate ancient wisdom on this theme. For in the same way our body gets exhausted, needs a rest, needs a good old clear out, so too does our mind…our poor overused, stressed out, chaotic, firing on all cylinders, looking for direction and leadership, mind.
A tired, unattended and untamed mind can create a lot of mischief for us and generally be known as the villain of the piece, when in actual fact, just like everything and everyone else that behaves badly, an untamed mind is really crying out for attention, for care, for love, for leadership. And when we give it that attention, either directly or indirectly, our thinking has the capacity to recalibrate and come into resonance with that place within that is totally connected to who we truly are and totally aware of the need for care and attention.
Thinking from this place is like a breath of fresh air.
Thinking from this place generates thoughts like arrows spearheaded with vision, focus, clarity, decisiveness, kindness, consideration for all (ourself included). These thoughts are unencumbered by reaction and noise. They don’t criticise, attack or blame. They have patience and compassion for ours and others’ imperfections. They don’t mind-read either. They prompt us to clarify with others rather than make assumptions. To understand rather than judge. To let go of tightly held opinions about this and that, him or her and stories about who we are or are not. Relationships thrive when we are thinking from this place. Performance does too…at work, at home, in every aspect of life.
Thinking from this place is aligned thinking.
Aligned thinking brings us home. It connects us, inspires us and allows us to progress and evolve.
Sounds attractive. But how can we access this place of aligned thinking?
It’s not easy to give a definitive response to this question as we’re all unique and we all arrive on this page with a different starting point but I share the things that have worked for me and also the things I’ve observed work for clients. If something draws you, I’d encourage you to try it and see if it works for you.
- Connection: Know what connects you to you, when you feel most at home with yourself, when you feel a state of flow, that effortless inspired place where all is well. In this place your thinking is naturally aligned. No effort or analysis required. Things that can create aligned connection are prayer, meditation, painting, walking in nature and noticing the beauty all around, dancing, yoga, listening to music or talks by people you admire, reading inspiring books and spending quality time with loved ones. And a dedicated word on prayer and meditation because it has such impact on the alignment of our thinking. A daily prayer and/or mediation practice is worth its weight in gold because not only do we get the benefit of the connection there and then, but over time, as we develop our connection muscle and our system starts to recognize the connected state, we can access it more and more in ANY moment during our day. We begin to feel connected for more rather than less of the time and we have more appreciation of the wonder in every single activity, no matter how mundane.
- Awareness: Get to know your patterns of thinking especially those less helpful thoughts that go round and round in circles and get stuck in your head. When this happens take your attention elsewhere, whether that’s into your body (in a mindfulness practise kind of way) or into an activity (you might go for a jog or listen to some music). Treat unhelpful thoughts lightly. Don’t believe them to be true. Becoming more aligned in our thinking usually involves some unlearning of old thinking patterns.
- Compassion: With awareness you know not to engage with unhelpful thoughts, but please do show them some kindness and compassion in your management of them. They’re misguided, that’s all. You can be friendly AND firm as you show them the door and refuse to get hooked into the drama and story they’re telling. You can also show yourself kindness and compassion if you do get hooked. Recognise it’s happened. Let it go. Move on.
- Physical health: Mind and body are inextricably linked. What you do to your body affects your mind (and vice versa). Looking after your body looks after your mind. You probably know the drill… eat healthily, get plenty of sleep, drink ample water and take regular (and sensible) exercise. It’s obvious and it’s essential.
- Choosing love: You can either think from a source of fear or from a source of love. Choose love every time. This is the aligned and connected you, the fuller and more resonant person that you are. Choosing love has many outward expressions and doesn’t mean being a push-over or floating around hugging everyone in a flower-power kind of way…although the hugging bit can be quite nice. And in a ‘professional/work’ environment you might want to replace ‘choose love’ with ‘choose kindness’ or ‘chose trust’ if these sit with you more comfortably.
- Lightness: Beware being trapped in a heaviness about your thinking or being lost in analysis. Whilst some analysis can be helpful, too much can keep us stuck rather than allowing us to move. Be light. Be playful. Know you are so much more than your thoughts. Gently coax your mind away from holding things so tightly and seriously. Learn to let go or at least not hold on to reactions, attachments, opinions, ideas of who you think you should be or who others are.
- Mind-rest: Give your poor over-worked mind a rest. It’s not a bad thing to distract your-self for a while as long as it doesn’t become a permanent avoidance strategy. Think about nice things. Things that lift you. Things that take you away from damaging thoughts about yourself, others or a situation. Intentionally fix your mind on these things. Let your mind be renewed.
- Discernment: Be discerning about what you fill your mind with. In the same way that what you put into your mouth affects your body, what you put into your mind affects your thinking. So be conscious of what and who you listen to, read, watch and buy-in to as truth.
It might seem like there’s a lot to consider with aligned thinking but you may have noticed how interconnected the above eight aspects are and I’d encourage you (paradoxically) not to think about it too much or ‘try’ to think in an aligned way. Rather experiment with the above and find your own way.
In finding my own way I discovered my aligned thinking mantra. Relax and Connect. A relaxed connected state allows me access to my inner wisdom and resonance. Here I am aligned. I can be nothing else.
Relax and Connect. Simple? Yes. Easy? Perhaps not.
But ultimately worth exploring and establishing a pathway into aligned ways of thinking.