“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” ~ Bruce Lee
Many of us think that our mind is designed to host a constant stream of thoughts and there is nothing we can do about it. The mind is in charge and we just follow. The buzzing can’t stop and we can’t make it stop. This is not true.
Your mind is a tool that you can control—if you choose to. It can be an asset that allows you to experience wonderful things. It can also be a source of pain and misery if you let it fixate on negative thoughts such as fear and all its manifestations.
An untamed mind lives on feeding the same thoughts and generating the same experiences. A typical cycle is something like this.
You may ask, what’s wrong with this cycle. There is nothing wrong with it if you’re feeling good and experiencing what brings you joy.
However, if you’re reacting based on negative thoughts and limiting beliefs, you won’t have control and you will negatively react most of the time.
The mind tends to dwell more on the negative than positive.
Break the cycle
To empty your mind is to release what’s taking precious space in your mind and heart that’s not serving you.
Once you process what’s on your mind, you gain perspective. You act, when needed, from clarity and truth. You no longer feed the loop.
An empty mind is:
- Aware—embracing the present moment and experience
- Peaceful—it doesn’t dwell on the same thoughts
- Intuitive—it’s receptive of input from higher sources
- Free—from judgment and worry
- Creative—allowing inspiration and new ideas to come in
- Relaxed—it releases stress and fosters wellbeing
- Energized—no effort is wasted on unwanted thoughts
3 Simple ways to empty your mind
You can take these actions any time you need to break the cycle of constant thinking and worrying.
Meditation is the best way to calm your overactive mind. It’s simple and requires only a couple of things—stillness and your willingness to do it.
How to do it—find a quiet place, at your home, office or even in the car (parked please). Set a timer for 10 to 20 minutes. I wouldn’t recommend more than 20 minutes and if you’re a beginner start with a shorter interval.
Sit upright, on the floor or a chair, close your eyes and start focusing on your breath. Take a few breaths and follow your breath. Think of a few things that you’re thankful for and name them in your mind, then smile. As you continue to smile, follow your breath; inhale and exhale. When your time is up, stop and get on with your day.
Challenges—your mind will resist in the beginning and will get bored. It will attempt to repeat the same thoughts that feed its compulsion. Notice them as they come along and let them be. The moment you notice a thought, it will go on its merry way.
You will be tempted to keep checking the time. If you feel the urge, do it but not more than a few times. If you can, remind yourself to trust the timer.
Your mind will wander and you will lose focus on your breath. That’s normal. Awareness comes in waves. Just ride it as long as you can, then catch the next one.
If you have a hard time focusing on your breath, start counting with each breath. When you lose count start from one again. I’ve found it helps to count in your mother tongue instead of English. Not sure why
Variations—you can repeat a mantra to yourself, if you prefer. Pick a mantra that resonates with you. Some examples to inspire you:
- I cherish myself, I cherish all beings (loving kindness mediation)
- I choose to trust, I let go
- I’m sorry. I love you (to self and others).
What to expect—as noted above, you will have challenges, accept them as part of the process. Smile as much as you can. By the end of your time you will feel calmer and more at peace. You can handle your day and what comes. You’re open to new thoughts and experiences.
As you get more used to meditating, you can explore all sorts of techniques and mantras. What you say is not as important as actually doing it. If you’re just beginning, keep it as simple as possible until it becomes an established routine.