At this time of year my life is marked by the never-ending internal list. You know the one cataloguing presents purchased, food to be organised, the Christmas shirt required for the end of year concert, etc.
Add to that the everyday chores and I find I am subject to a constant internal dialogue that means my mind is extremely loud.
Yet, in the definitions of quiet in the dictionary there are a number that refer to the mind:
Free from disturbing emotions etc.; mentally peaceful; to calm mentally, as a person
I find if I don’t take time to quiet my mind and organise my thoughts, I become frazzled and scatter-brained. When I am with my family I become distracted. I am no longer present, but mentally doing the next thing. So, how do I manage this crazy constant internal chatter? Here are some things that work for me.
The first is to create space. One way to quiet my mind is to quiet my diary.
As I said in my last post I am using Myquillin Smith’s idea of ‘quieting the house’ as my basis for this journey in quiet. Her process of clearing things away and then carefully adding back in, is great for this process of clearing the mind.
In an effort to get everything done at this time of year I am often tempted to try and schedule everything on one day. But that makes me rush and more prone to forgetting things. Instead I have found deliberately leaving space between events has been important for my peace of mind.
And speaking of the diary, that person who you haven’t caught up with since this time last year. Do you really have to see them before Christmas or can a later date work? Give yourself room and permission not to rush from one thing to another.
Manage the chatter
The next thing I do is manage the internal chatter.
Again I start with clearing things out. By that I mean the constant input I have in my day; the blogs, the news, the music in the car. Somedays there is so much input that I literally can’t hear myself think. That is when I know that I need to declutter my blog roll and email lists. As I have said before it is okay to unsubscribe.
I then externalise the chatter. Getting things out of my head and onto paper is essential for me. So I write lists. I can then work through the list as required without always wondering if I’ve forgotten something.
Another way to manage the chatter is to do things as soon as possible. When you get an invite to an end of year wind-up, you usually know if you can go or not. Reply straight away. Then it is off your to-do list and out of your mind.
Finally I find something that brings me back to being present. It could be a walk on the beach, a regular exercise class, reading a good book. I choose something where I have to focus on the thing I am doing. And for that time I am present and not going through my list.
God hasn’t invited us into a disorderly, unkempt life but into something holy and beautiful—as beautiful on the inside as the outside. (1 Thessalonians 4:7)
I no longer want to live in a disorderly, unkempt life, but one that is more present, less distracted, less rushed.
Join me for the journey,