5 Ways to QUIET the Mind

It’s no secret.  I am, admittedly, a learn-a-holic.  I derive ridiculous amounts of pleasure from the mere absorption of information.  The unknown becomes known.  That may explain my insatiable appetite for Anthony Bourdain’s traveling series, Parts Unknown.  His distinct gift of documenting the lives, flavorful fare, and vibrant cultural traditions of  the world’s unrevealed places bolsters my intense passion for and longing to understand the world and the nearly 7.5 billion people in it.

Inquiring minds ask a lot of questions, and yes, I am without question, a questioner.

This morning while enjoying a quick walk in the outdoor inferno, I listened to an insightful  Kwik Brain podcast.  Jim Kwik is an expert on all things brain-related, particularly accelerated learning.  You may recall his name from the 6-part series I shared on Brain Health and essential oils last spring.   You can find them here, in case you missed them.    I had the pleasure of meeting Jim in Las Vegas at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, thanks to an introduction by a dear friend and behavior design expert, Linda Fogg-Phillips.

In this morning’s bite-sized dose of brain-expanding learning, Jim shared tips for calming the mind by way of the user-friendly acrostic “Q.U.I.E.T.”, (which by the way happens to be an awesome book on the power of introversion by Susan Cain), to help listeners turn off their incessant internal chatter.   He said, “Your brain is not designed to work at full steam all the time.  Regular simmering down with these tips and hacks is a brilliant move for your wellbeing in life and career. ”  

Q: Question

By asking ourselves questions like, “Who am I right now?” and “What do I live for?“, we are able to tap into the present moment and help focus the mind.  Try asking, “What do I really need right now?“, or “What is the most delightful thing I have seen all day?”  Ask yourself better questions. Asking questions, Jim says, directs our focus and helps us concentrate on what’s most important.

U: Unplug

Get into nature. Opt outside.

There is plenty of scientific evidence showing the positive effects of spending time in the great outdoors.  Surrounded by nature, our bodies naturally relax and our brains release feel good chemicals like serotonin.   A tip I picked up on another Kwik Brain podcast suggested using the first and last hour of each day to our advantage.  These are the hours we are typically less distracted, and have the highest ability to control.  (Hint:  avoid grabbing your phone and reacting first thing in the morning as well as responding to work emails late at night when you could be reading/ relaxing in your bed setting your brain up for much needed time recovering).

I: Integrate

By integration, Jim is referring to the integration of our 5 senses: touch, taste, sight, sound, and smell.   He notes, ” Scientists can now show it’s possible to regulate how aroused you are through the five senses, as well as through the vestibular system.”  The vestibular system is our sensory system controlling things like our forward and backward motions, as well as working in tandem with our body awareness sense, proprioception, to provide a sense of balance and spatial orientation.  These are often referred to as our sixth sense.  By activating any one of our senses,  we are able to step out of our minds, and into our bodies.

Here’s where aromatherapy shines!  By activating our olfactory system (sense of smell), we are able to get our of our heads, and into our bodies!  As I write this post and share with you, I am diffusing Cilantro essential oil and am enjoying the steady mist of this fresh, herbaceous, and incredibly cleansing essential oil.  Cilantro essential oil is used to help support the body in detoxing from heavy metals and free radicals, and is especially helpful in reducing anxious feelings.   Here are some other key benefits of using Cilantro essential oil. 

In addition to activating your sense of smell to initiate a quiet mind, you may try integrating other senses by:

  • dimming the lights
  • sitting under a weighted blanket ( this is a ritual for me)
  • listening to nature sounds
  • forward folding postures
  • balancing on 1 leg
  • rocking in a chair
  • deep breathing
  • sipping essential oil flavored water
  • inhaling your favorite essential oils in the palms of your hands
  • and for the guys out there… try fly fishing, or swinging a golf club!

E: Exercise

Movement.  Shakes things up and gets blood flowing!  According to a Harvard Medical School Journal, aerobic exercise may boost the size of the hippocampus- the part of the brain involved with verbal memory and learning.   You can read the full story here.    In addition to supporting your heart and lungs, exercise boosts endorphins and is a form of meditation in motion.   The effort given to a particular motion, whether it’s hiking, cycling, walking, running, fishing, golfing, or playing tennis helps take our minds to a different place and often frees us temporarily of our troubles.   I find that chopping fresh vegetables has a similar relaxing effect on the mind, and of course, so does enjoying my favorite sweet treats at night!

T:  Transcendental Meditation

Jim’s final suggestion in Q.U.I. E.T ing the mind is Transcendental Meditation.  You may be thinking, “What is it? and “How exactly do you do this?”  In a simplified explanation,   TM, as it’s commonly referred to, involves the use of a mantra for 15–20 minutes twice per day while sitting with the eyes closed.   This may be a particular phrase, affirmation, or sequence of words on which you choose to focus.    Close your eyes, and repeat the words or phrasing over and over in your mind and allow them to come into laser focus.  Don’t worry if you don’t get it right or if it feels like it’s just not your thing.

Like most things in life that are good for us, quieting the mind is a habit, and according to my dear friend and behavioral design expert Linda,  habits begin as seedlings and  through practice, consistency, and a favorable environment, they grow into thriving behaviors.

 

Here’s to discovering a little more QUIET in your world.

Stand In Love,

Jen

 

 

 

 

Certain Captain

Transitions.

Storms.

Uncertainty.

Seasons of life come and then they go.

Welcome them all with open arms, and trust your Captain.

When questions abound, and you are not sure which way to go, look up; God is always with you, and you are never alone.  He is your Captain.   He will steady the rocking ship, calm the turbulent waters, and steer you into the right direction.  He is your Captain.

Captain by Hillsong United:

Verse 1
Through waters uncharted my soul will embark
I’ll follow Your voice straight into the dark
And if from the course You intend I depart
Speak to the sails of my wandering heart

Chorus
Like the wind You’ll guide
Clear the skies before me
And I’ll glide this open sea
Like the stars Your Word
Will align my voyage
And remind me where I’ve been
And where I am going

Verse 2
Lost in the shallows amidst fear and fog
Your truth is the compass that points me back north
Jesus, my Captain, my soul’s trusted Lord
All my allegiance is rightfully Yours

 

Thank you God for reminding me where I’ve been, and where I am going.

Photo: Murchinson Falls National Park, Uganda.

#standinlove

My 4th of July Kibbutz Volunteer Experience

I don’t know what it is about the 4th of July that scratches my insatiable travel itch but I have my suspicions.

Perhaps a dose of nostalgia?

Or the undeniable truth that I have a deep-seated passion for global adventures.

I long to explore untraveled parts of the world in order to connect with locals,  to communicate in unfamiliar languages,  to discover new sights, sounds, smells, tastes,  and to collect incredible stories along the way to share with friends and family.

One of my favorite 4th of July travel memories dates back to the summer of 2000.   I willingly agreed to join my dear friend Jesica in Israel en route to a volunteer job on a small kibbutz in the beautiful Negev desert.

Our assignment:  Harvesting the world’s most plump, succulent, mouthwatering dates.

Journey

We connected at Ben Gurion airport in the wee hours of the night, completely jet lagged, yet buzzing with anticipation of the mysterious adventure that lie ahead of us.   Our unairconditioned room was sparsely decorated and I specifically recall sleeping with the overhead light on to deter the scurrying cockroaches in search of a cooler oasis.  Little did I know this wouldn’t be the last time I’d be sleeping with the lights on;  The volunteer housing I would call home for the next 3 months had similarly sparse and buggy decor!  Yikes!

The following morning, volunteer assignment in hand and typical overpacked backpack & acoustic guitar in tow, we traveled 4.5 hours south to our home away from home,  a charming hilltop kibbutz named Grofit.   Located in the Aravah valley of the Negev desert, this place would serve as a classroom of sorts, rewarding us with the kind of life lessons that only stepping out of your comfort zone provides.

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Kibbutz Grofit with date fields in the distance (left). 

 

Kibbutz Life

A kibbutz is essentially a commune of people sharing land, resources, and the desire to enjoy a family friendly, relaxed lifestyle.  Today, kibbutz residents represent only 2.5% of Israel’s total population and while current modes of operation are far from the pioneering days, they continue to attract tourists as well as locals seeking a peaceful getaway from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

What I cherished most from my experience was the daily community fellowship, the meals enjoyed together prepared by loving hands, and above all, the opportunity to experience multiple cultures, languages, and rich conversations daily.    It was a chance to serve the needs of the kibbutz and in exchange we received the freedom to embark on once-in-a -lifetime adventures including an overnight hike up Mt. Sinai, lead by a team of Bedouins and camels,  snorkeling in the Red Sea in Dahab, and the thrill of meeting a local Jordanian family thanks to our taxi driver who insisted we stop in for a visit at 11:45pm to meet his relatives!   I will never forget that night!

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Each day, I shared 10 hours with migrant workers from India & Thailand,  as well as volunteers from Belgium, Poland, France, Denmark, and South Africa!  Talk about the learning opportunities!

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At dawn, our team drove into the date fields, feeling the coolness of night before the sun rose to the east over the Jordanian mountains.

The work was physical, the heat oppressive.

At times,  I  pondered the social injustices of the world as I placed nets around the unripened date fruits high in the sky.   I marveled at the agility and fearlessness of my Thai and Indian teammates, and admired their fortitude despite the dire circumstances which brought them thousands of miles away from loved ones in order to make a living.

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Lessons

Freedom to travel is a gift.

Service to others is a gift.

Relationships are a gift.

Learning is a gift.

Curiosity is a gift.

and gifts….. well……

Gifts are meant to be shared with the world.   Thank you for allowing me the gift and freedom of sharing this story with you!

What is your favorite 4th of July memory?  I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Until next time friends,

Stand In Love,  Jen xo

Jennifer Miller is a Las Vegas-based dōTERRA Wellness Advocate and  Community Partner volunteer  for global nonprofit BeadforLife and Street Business School whose mission is to provide entrepreneurial training to 1 million impoverished people globally by 2027.   Click here for a listing of upcoming events, or Follow her on Instagram or Facebook @standinlovejen .  To begin your natural health and wellness journey today with essential oils, click here .