Quieting the mind and redefining faith in 2016 December 31, 2015 11:15
Quieting the mind and redefining faith in 2016
Welcome to my very first blog as the Owner and Creative Director of ELIZA Designs LA. From time to time, I will be writing and sharing insights, experiences and thoughts with you. I hope that each time you read, you will come away with something positive. Let’s see where this journey of life takes us!
As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org or your input as you follow us on any of our social media platforms.
Sitting on a plane bound home for the holidays. The little girl in front of me has narrated the journey thus far with insightful questions aimed rapidly, and repeatedly at her parents.
Are we ready yet? (we are on the tarmac)
Are we in the air yet? (we just took off)
Are we there yet? (we just took off)
It struck me that no matter our age, we always want to know what’s next, what’s happening.
Am I going to be single forever?
When am I getting married?
Will we have children?
Will this job last?
What’s going to happen in 2016?
As a child, our parents get to shape our world and answer these questions for us. Giving us answers that we typically accept as authority.
As an adult, we still have questions, but who is our authority now? Who answers? Is it our gut, our therapist, mother earth, our spouse, the universe, God? Rather than shouting our questions out on a plane, do we just drive ourselves crazy repeating them in our mind, struggling in a place while we wait on an answer or move forward without confidence?
I think we’ve all been there, moving forward without knowing the outcome, proceeding with trust. That could be starting a relationship with someone you don’t know is ‘the one’, embracing a new job when you aren’t sure it’s the ‘right fit’, switching careers when you don’t know the ‘financial outcome’.
You may use a different word for this time, but I call this a time of faith, “…faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen…” I’ve found faith to be an action word. Quieting the mind and stepping forward with trust takes work! I’d love to think of faith as a time for lying on a beach chair, sipping a cold beverage and watching the waves break on carribbean waters. Instead, the more appropriate visual for my faith is at the gym, working my tail off, sweating like crazy (and wishing I was on a beach). Faith is a muscle that I need to work on, to strengthen. I want to know that my faith muscle can handle the weight of uncertainty, the repetition of multiple mind questions. To know that I can endure in the present until I have an answer or the universe shows me the next step.
"Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase." – Martin Luther King, Jr.
How do we proceed in faith when we the mind is asking outcome questions every minute of our plane ride? What helps us cope? Here’s my list of ways to quiet my mind and keep in faith.
MEDITATION AND PRAYER
If you don’t have a practice, 2016 is a great time to start. You can do this on your own, at a church, a synagogue, a yoga studio or any institution offering breath work and mediation. If you don’t have a practice, why not start with 10 quiet minutes a day where you sit (at home, on the beach, in the park, on the bus), with your eyes closed. Let all those questions come in your head, and visualize swiping them to the left with your finger, dismissing them like items you don’t want while shopping online. The questions go outta your head and off the screen, you don’t need them right now. Keep doing this until you get to a blank screen. Each time you meditate or pray, see if you can’t get faster at getting to the blank screen. Quieting the mind swiftly. The more rapidly you process the questions, the more time you will have for peace, for accessing higher guidance, for being in the present. Need more structure? I recommend taking a meditation/breath work class by the gifted and talented Marlize Joubert. She is brilliant. Her class schedule can be found at marlizejoubert.com and she also offers private sessions. @marlizenowadays
"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present." – Buddha
YOGA AND EXERCISE CLASSES
I know it’s hard to find time for this when you are already stressed, but even 20 minutes a day will get your serotonin flowing, your energy level up and get you sleeping solidly. There’s no room for questions when you are being told to get into a different pose or position! ‘Will I get married?’ Is replaced with ‘I need to put my leg where?’ In January of 2015 I embraced my fear of spin class. It was hard as hell, but now I find it to be my mental sanctuary. I can think of nothing but the lyrics, the directions from the instructor and whether or not I’m going to sweat to death. So face your fears, find a class and find your zen. A quick search on yelp will tell you the best yoga studios, exercise classes and fitness centers in your area.
Nothing puts questions about your life out of your mind faster than reaching out to help those that are less fortunate. The homeless population has jumped 12% in the last two years in both the city and county of Los Angeles, more than 44,000 people are without shelter (source: LA Times). There are a many organizations that need your help. I picked the Los Angeles Mission for this article. You can volunteer to bring hope to homeless men, women and children on Skid Row through a number of activities. losangelesmission.org/act/volunteer As the owner of three rescues (1 dog, 2 cats), organizations to help animals are very dear to my heart. You can sign up to be a volunteer and walk dogs or snuggle cats at the NKLA (No Kill LA) shelter in West LA. Help socialize these animals and give them a better chance at finding their forever home. nkla.org/get-involved/volunteer
"If patience is worth anything, it must endure to the end of time. And a living faith will last in the midst of the blackest storm." – Gandhi
TELEVISION AND MOVIES
Just need a break from it all while you wait in faith? Temporarily given up on quieting the mind? Who doesn’t need a day off from the gym, working that faith muscle? My judgment of whether a movie is good or not, is how many times a question sneaks into my mind during the movie. If I leave the movie realizing that I haven’t been in my head, it’s a success! 5 stars! 2 thumbs up! Not into movies? Binge watch your favorite TV shows in the comfort of your own home. Give yourself a 2-hour break and then get back to mastering some of these other ways to stay in faith.
BAKING, COOKING AND CRAFTS
Anything that involves careful instruction keeps me in the moment and focused on the task at hand. Why not bake some cookies but gift them to a neighbor (less calories but still serves the purpose)? Find a craft that you love. Head to Michael’s Craft Store and wander the aisles until something looks good to you. Make a silk flower arrangement or a candle. (Word of caution: if you are trying not to focus on the past or obsess about the future, don’t do a scrapbook or vision board!). Who knows what you will discover about yourself if you try something creative. Many women (and men) started their businesses from what was once their hobby. I began making jewelry many years ago as a ‘hobby’. I found manipulating the metals with my hands all-consuming and a way to quiet my mind. How can you entertain questions when you are trying not to poke an eye out with metal? There is something out there for everyone. You have creative talent. Find it and let it help strengthen your faith muscle and quiet your mind.
"Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies." – Mother Teresa
Are we there yet? (we are still in the air)
While we continue to ask questions, waiting for a higher authority to give us the answer or show us the way, we will have faith. As we embrace 2016, we’ll strengthen our faith muscle, embrace new ways to quiet the mind, focus on living in the present, and most importantly, swipe those pesky questions to the left and off the screen! Instead of ‘Is 2016 my year?’ say, ‘2016 IS MY YEAR!’