How to start?...
The best way to start anything is just to do it.
In the beginning maybe it's not pretty, maybe it doesn't make much sense. But at least you've begun. Beginning itself can be the hardest part; pushing past the thresh hold, into the unknown. Most of us say, "I am not going to start until I have the motivation to begin!"
Well the truth is, you may never find the motivation to begin, because beginning something new is scary. And humans have evolved in a way to avoid situations that they find threatening, this has ensured the survival of our species. Yes, beginning anything can and most likely will feel incredibly uncomfortable, maybe every inch of your being will say, "Stop!" "Turn around!" "We are not safe!!" and then self doubt will kick in, "Like you have something of value to bring to this world! Ha!" "What makes you so special?" Oh these thoughts...
We have to push past them and we can with perseverance, and strength. We are all faced with thoughts that do not serve us at times. And too many of us identify with our thoughts, many of us do not feel they have any control of what their minds think up. I too used to believe that to be true. But I know that's not true anymore.
If we think of the mind like a self programming computer, once the script has been written (through life experience,) it will run on it's own. And if the program in which our mind is running on is not programmed to serve our highest good, then the mind can run a muck and cause anxiety, depression, anger, etc. to ourselves and the people we love.
Yes, we go on autopilot all the time, like when we are driving a car on the same route time after time, after awhile you may end up driving home and not even remember the ride there. Our thoughts, too, are often on "autopilot." And many times, this is a good thing, if the program is just and mindful. But being pushed around, misused, misunderstood, over coddled, or under coddled etc. etc. can begin to change the script. Our autopilot self may then start to become afraid or anxious, depressed or mean, over controlling, or reckless etc. etc. That is when we need to take back the reins, to step back and say "No" "Stop" "This does not serve me" then focus our attention on something else, anything else!!
We are in control of our thoughts, our thoughts do not control us.
We all have our own skewed vision of reality that is based upon our past experiences. Try asking yourself, "Am I really seeing things clearly right now?" "Is there another way I could be thinking about this that would be more beneficial to me and those involved?" "Am I just making this all up?!"
Don't believe everything that you think.
Here are 4 practices that I find to be beneficial to finding my center and stepping away from harmful thoughts:
Take your awareness out of your head, and into your body.
1. Check in with your heart. Warm it up. Do this by imagining a little fire in your chest. Visualize it growing. Physically feel is growing. If you have never done this practice, it may seem impossible to find your inner kindle. For me, I connect with my inner child, my smirk, my humor, my laughter. Laughter is a warm fuzzy feeling. Sometimes I connect with my strength, my power source, my honor. Or my love, the infinite love of thriving, of being alive, or the love i have for myself or the other. If this is your first time connecting with your inner flame, you may want to meditate on this feeling daily, maybe once every morning. I still do. It's a great practice to remember to bring this love into everyday.
Remember, if we do not feed our inner fire, just like any fire, it will go out.
2. Feel. Feel your feet planted firmly on the ground. Feel each toe. Feel the weight of your body in the heel of your feet. If you are having a hard time connecting with your feet, try to lightly bounce up and down, feeling your feet leaving and returning to the ground below. Bringing your awareness out of your head and into your feet, is a great way to feel more grounded.
3. Connect with your breath. Take long and deep breaths. This can be particularly good when experiencing anxiety. When a human gets anxious, their breath shortens and their chest tightens. We can reverse the affects of anxiety by taking long, slow breaths.
4. Connect with life's beauty. From colors, to patterns, to sunsets, or the ocean's tide, a well made vase, or a painting on the wall, the way the fan lifts the curtain from the window and gently sits it back down again, the creaking of a door, the moon peaking out from behind the clouds, beauty is everywhere, if we look for it. When we admire something, our brain's feel like they light up like a light bulb. We become flooded with feel good hormones, and you can actually feel this happening if you tune in. What could be a better replacement for a negative harmful thought then that of awe and admiration? To me, there is not a thing.