The “Settling Mind” Exercise

In this month’s article, we talked about Susan’s “Settling Mind” exercise. She wrote about it in Embracing Uncertainty, offering a way to calm our thinking when our thoughts swirl out of control. Here is the full excerpt.

I “invented” this exercise while on a beautiful walk near my home in southern California.  There was wonder all around me, but I couldn’t take any of it in.  My head was a swirl of clutter, which included thoughts of contracts, deadlines, decisions to be made, and on and on and on.  Thankfully, I became conscious of how overloaded my head was.  It felt as though there was clutter totally filling my brain, preventing me from seeing, hearing, or doing anything with clarity.  I was taking a beautiful walk, but my head was not enjoying or taking in a moment of it.

Finally, I asked myself, “What would happen if I could get rid of all the clutter swirling around my head.  What if I could let it all simply float down like swirling snowflakes?  Would that help?”  So, as I walked, I imagined the swirling clutter as “snow” settling down until my head was totally clear…totally empty.  I imagined myself having an empty glass head.  Relief, indeed!  But there was more than just relief.   

All of a sudden, I became part of the glorious scene around me…the expanse of ocean, the magnificent weather, the color of the flowers, the striking cloud formations, the smell of eucalyptus, the palm trees “waving to me” in the breeze, the people running, walking, skateboarding, biking, enjoying the day. Instead of feeling removed from the scene, as one does with clutter in the mind, I became a part of it all.  In fact the scene was moving through my empty head…I wasn’t simply looking at it.  The beauty was almost more than I could take and tears of gratitude welled up in my eyes.  What had I done to create this miracle of vision?  It was very easy.  I simply made room for my head to take in what was happening around me.

The image that came to mind after this experience was one of those “snow domes”, the little glass balls that you can shake up until they are filled with flakes that look like snow.  When you stop shaking the dome, little by little, the specks float to the bottom until the glass ball is clear.

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