I was working on cleaning up my files after the tax season finished up and it made me think of the parallels between my physical files, clutter and my own ‘psychological clutter’.
What do I mean by that?
Well, many of us have a little two or three door filing cabinet at home (bigger if you’re self employed and need to save EVERY receipt for a possible tax break… high five to my accountant and book keeper!) and those cabinets… well… they fill up pretty fast. It’s not that everything inside isn’t useful in one way, shape, or form. Maybe you will need that receipt for the 3-pack of tube socks you bought 3 years ago (I mean really… they get holes in them within a couple years… time to return them, right?). Well those filing cabinets are similar in many ways to our minds, I believe. We try to push more and more “files” into our already busy mind. In the Greater Toronto Area I find that people are far more stressed than other places I have lived. I have discussed this with my wife, friends and patients in the past and we have found different things that I think lead to our “personal file” overload here. The top reasons:
-Work life stress: Deadlines and high stress workplaces
-Family Stress: Juggling family and work life, while trying to maintain a semblance of a social life
-Keeping Up Stress: aka the Facebook effect; where we feel we need to keep up appearances for others (vacations, housing, family, etc)
All these stresses add to our “files” in our cabinet. Making us need to work harder when we should and could be at rest. Many don’t take into account just how powerful our mind is… and just how important it is to have it get rest.
I found a great info graphic by Emma Seppala, PhD that shows the benefits of calming your mind through Meditation:
I often recommend to my patients the importance of meditating… or “calming the mind”. In our busy day to day life I think it is very important to take a step back and take 10 minutes for our own well-being. This is especially important in the lives of those with the most on their plate; parents of young families. You will be much more effective with your children, connecting and patient, if you take a few minutes a day to meditate.
Now here is the kicker… most people respond the same way: “I don’t have time to meditate”. I could go through someones day to day life with them… and 0% of the time will I find that there is no time for them to do 10 minutes of mindfulness. I think it is because the majority think that it is a very time oriented task. Here is the thing, if you spend 10-15 minutes a day… you’ll be amazed over time how de-cluttered your mind can become. Not only your mind but you can make PHYSIOLOGICAL changes through meditation. Yes… you read that right. Hear Rate Variability (HRV) is a measure that is gaining momentum as it is an important measure in our ability to adapt to stressors. As the variability between heart sounds changes, we adapt better. And the folks from Heart Math have a great suggestion for a quick and easy way to bring meditation into your daily regimen:
Quick Coherence Technique
- Heart Focus: Focus your attention in the area of your heart, in the center of your chest.
- Heart Breathing: As you focus on the area of your heart, imagine your breath flowing in and out through that area.
- Heart Feeling: As you continue to breathe through the area of your heart, recall a positive feeling, a time when you felt good inside, and try to re-experience it. It could be feeling appreciation for the good things in your life, or the love and care you feel for someone.
If we work to empty our filing cabinet, especially of the items that cause us stress, we will function better physically, emotionally and overall in general.
Patients already in my office can ask me to demonstrate a quick and easy daily meditation to help them calm their minds. Just ask. We can start getting rid of the unnecessary files when you’re ready to shred.
Dr. Matt Lindsay, DC
Aligned Chiropractic – Burlington, ON