As the commercial reminds us, a mind is indeed a terrible thing to waste. But to often we are content to let our gifts and abilities wither on the vine if it keeps us from verging too close to the unfamiliar and the unknown. But that way lies the path of dullness and boredom. Here are some steps you can take to “freshen up” your mental hygiene and get back on the track of clean and clear thinking in your life.
1. Mediation is one of the best ways to calm, clear and control your mind. Whether you choose breathing, walking, transcendental, tantric or soap-bubbles-in-the-sun reflection meditation makes no difference. Explore a bit and see what feels right for you and stick with it. The clarity and focus you receive will be worth the effort required.
2. Take up a hobby or activity with no thought at attaining perfection. Find one that is challenging enough to test your mettle, but accessible enough so that you don’t get frustrated and walk away. Try something completely new or an offshoot of a current pastime that you haven’t done before. Keep at it until you master it to your satisfaction, then move on to another subject.
3. Set aside one night a week to engage in personal development activities. Read inspirational books, work through a personal assessment and set up a schedule of activities to improve your scores in weak areas, watch videos or DVDs of inspirational speakers or topics or attend nearby lectures or seminars on areas that you feel the need for improvement. Constant growth keeps us strong and flexible in times of crisis and provides interest and entertainment in times of relative calm.
4. Surround yourself with inspirational or intriguing quotes, art, books, music and other “brain food” so that your waking hours are filled with stimulating and encouraging input and messages. Keep the selection fresh and up to date by adding to it as you come across more items and removing from it those that have grown stale or no longer have the impact they used to.
5. Create an independent study curriculum on a subject you’ve always wanted to learn. Many schools and other venues host free or low-cost classes on the web, either as live training or as downloadable files. Research and set up a reading list and create an agenda of field trips and practicums where you can explore and practice what you have learned. To make your newly acquired knowledge and skills really stick, set up a free or fee’d class/workshop/seminar for others in the community around you.
Your mind is only as sharp as the last hard obstacle you rubbed it against. Keep your wit and your intellect honed and ready, and it will serve you well in time of need. Let it dull, and others (as well as yourself) will despair of its bluntness and abandon it to rust in favor of sharper blades.