Can meditation reduce mind clutter? When the mind isn’t functioning properly, performing even the simplest task is a difficult proposition. The problem of confused thinking is one that only seems to get worse as time passes. Unlike other parts of the body, which heal on their own, the cluttered mind often needs help in order to return to normal. The mind is a complicated and active piece of organic machinery. In typical situations the curious and energetic nature of the mind serves us well. Left to its own devices however, the mind can become its own worst enemy.
Cluttered thinking is often the result of an over-active mind. The cluttered mind races from one thought to the next, without ever truly solving problems. Over time this frantic activity forms a habit, and the mind becomes less capable of properly processing even the simplest information. Due to the fact that the mind is habitual in nature, once muddled thinking becomes a habit, it is often one that is difficult to break. Fortunately, we know enough about the mind to prescribe a natural and non-chemical prescription for it. Meditation is the oldest prescription to reduce mind clutter known to humankind.
Meditation focuses on bringing order and harmony to a chaotic mind. By teaching the mind to focus intently on one specific thought, meditation helps the mind to better process all thoughts. Where modern science relies on drugs and counseling to provide relief for the problem, meditation requires only the simplest of methods to bring the mind toward a state of stillness.
Yogic meditation has been using the natural resources contained within the human mind and body to provide mental relief for centuries. Through hatha yoga, body and mind are expected to work together, with each one strengthening the other. Even the most simple yogic exercises can have a great impact on removing clutter from the mind.
Before the classic asanas (yogic postures), yoga training relies on breath control (pranayama) to still the mind. By observing and controlling their breathing yoga practitioners learn to carefully examine their thoughts and the world around them. Over time as these practices become habit, the minds of those who practice yoga learn to process information in better ways.
An Unconventional Method for Preparation
Paul often mentions that we are teaching students who have not learned the art of mindfulness. Our students can barely sit still because of consuming stimulants and being plugged into electronic devices all day long! Additionally, our students sit on chairs, couches and benches. Their bodies are not used to sitting on the ground. Many people have not sat on the ground since they were children. For this reason, I propose techniques that are not classical in nature and can be practiced in an office. I ask you to think outside the ashram and into the busy lives of people, who work more than one job to make ends meet.
One yoga asana, or body position, that is a particularly good before meditation is the Standing Arm Reach. Paul calls this “Touch the Sky.” Simply standing and reaching with your arms skyward will carry out this basic posture. Do not lock any joints and be mindful of your breathing. There are many options for pranayama, but let’s keep it simple. While stretching as much as you are able to, relax, inhale, and exhale, slowly. Performing this action and other asanas that are adapted to an office chair several times per day is a simple but, effective way to reduce mind clutter, while preparing the body and mind for a meditation session.
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