“Listening to your heart, finding out who you are, is not simple. It takes time for the chatter to quiet down. In the silence of “not doing” we begin to know what we feel. If we listen and hear what is being offered, then anything in life can be our guide. Listen.” –unknown
Being overwhelmed seems to have become a staple of what life as an American is like these days. ”Choose this product!”, “Do this exercise!”, “Drink this beverage!”, “Look like this!”, “Be with this person!”… are among thousands of advertisements in the media we encounter every day. Not to mention, with all the options that are available to us, constant thoughts streaming in, and the “expectations” we put on ourselves, no wonder we can easily choose something like vegging out in front of the TV or spending countless hours on facebook and twitter when there’s a deadline at work, a test to study for, or a whole house to clean. Our minds simply can’t handle so much stimulus and need to shut down with an unattached “distraction.”
I’m reflecting on these feelings because it’s taken a lot of effort to figure out how to become tranquil in such an over stimulated culture. ( How ironic that this is the post after discussing coffee! ) I think it will be a constant practice in mindfulness and checking in with yourself. How does that begin? Great question!
I included the quote on “listening” to make a connection:
Overstimulation = the inability to filter out and listen to what we really need.
All that “chatter” in life is guaranteed to stay, so our options are either to escape it by going away to the top of a mountain for 20+ years to meditate (maybe not too practical for most?), or sit and realistically think of what can be implemented and put “on hold” in our lives for a while in order to desensitize and become more harmonious with what our true passions and directions are.
Several Ideas that have helped me so far on this desensitizing journey:
- Asking for help! It’s so easy to be proud, stubborn, or feel like it’s your responsibility to be “Super (insert appropriate noun here- Mom, Dad, Friend, Student, Partner, Colleague…)” Asking for help with little things like errands, cooking, an event, or an ear to listen to those streaming thoughts you may have, can make all the difference. Maybe you’ll even make time to relax and start to listen to what else your body and soul need.
- Cut or prioritize internet, TV time, video games… (whatever your guilty electronic pleasure): If you are like me, internet (or one of the above) can be your best friend and your worst enemy. I spend a lot of time on my computer; mostly for school and now blog-related purposes. While those are plenty enough to handle on my plate, I still find myself switching back and forth between g-mail and facebook, and school e-mail account, and googling random things like “cute animal images”, while listening to an episode of a random show on hulu… more times than I care to admit. I used to attribute it to my Gemini- air sign qualities, but really all I am doing is creating my own sense of overwhelm by doing this. Limiting internet use (or any of the above) each day can at least help clear some more space in your mind to again, figure out what your heart/body/soul is trying to say but can’t because there is just too much stimulus! Yesterday my heart’s desire was to finish sorting through my clothes and donate what I don’t need. It felt so good to accomplish that and follow through so later on I could enjoy some relaxing time with one less thing on my mind.
- Just say No: There is always going to be events available for us to attend and participate in- invites, parties, concerts, outings, workshops, trips, clubs… and on and on. While most things are exciting and fun to be a part of, there are also times we can be asked to do something that out of the kindness of our hearts, we jump to the opportunity, only to later find out how much work and effort was really needed to be involved. To avoid becoming overwhelmed from a self-willing endeavor and harboring resentment for people or events, or yourself, take a moment to take an inventory of your life and consider if you really have the time to fit every last thing in. Sometimes it is OK to say no. Could what drives some people to be perfectionists, overachievers, and people pleasers be a fear of what other people think and/or not knowing what we really want out of life? Something deep to contemplate…
- Write it out: If a feeling, idea or an epiphany arises, write it down! So often thoughts come in and out and we forget about them because… we are overwhelmed! Writing things down- like a to-do list, gratitude journal or happy list, can help be a reminder of your priorities, who you are and what really makes you tick. The more aware we become of being sucked into overwhelming stimulus, the easier it will be to have something like written words bring us out of it. Visual reminders can help divert our attention to focus more on a task, and ease our over-full plates.
- Having a spiritual practice: meditation, yoga, qigong, breathing exercises, being in nature, community gatherings, gardening… among many other things, are all powerful tools to clear the mind and connect with the innermost parts of ourselves and others that have been yearning to be heard. Having a spiritual practice can be energizing, full of joy, and enhance quality of life. :) From all the positive feedback I’ve received from you all, this topic will be constantly revisited.
Happy Sunday! I am so grateful for every one of you and the support I’ve received to build this community! Enjoy reflecting on ways to desensitize, and please share your thoughts!