Anytime a piece of technology is giving us problems, what’s the first thing we do? We turn it off, and then turn it back on. It’s amazing the variety of issues that this simple trick can solve.
Mindfulness teaches us that the same idea can apply to our minds as well. If we’re in some kind of emotional funk, or if the solution to a problem eludes us, we can learn how to unplug our mind—even for just a minute—and watch how many issues have disappeared when we plug back in.
5 Steps to Unplug Your Mind
1. Stop. The first step to unplugging your mind is to stop everything you’re doing. This begins by stopping your body, and giving yourself permission to do nothing for at least a minute or so. You might try saying to yourself, “Just for this one minute, I don’t have to accomplish or change anything.”
2. Let the mind wind down. Now imagine that each of your five senses is like a door that lets information into your mind. Close each of these doors and offer yourself the gift of quiet. Your mind takes in so many sights, sounds, etc., all day long. For just a minute or so, let it rest. Close your eyes, turn off anything you were listening to, stop distracting yourself in any way. Then, see if you can quiet your thoughts by telling your mind, “You can rest now. Nowhere to go, and nothing to do.”
3. Come home. Now that you’ve stopped and quieted your senses, come home to yourself in the present moment. Pay attention to your breathing and the sensations in your body without trying to do or change anything. Say to yourself, “The present moment is my true home, and I have arrived.”
4. Practice self-compassion. See if you can direct love and compassion toward yourself in this moment. Having let go of all busyness, try saying to yourself, “May you be well. May you be safe. May you be loved.”
5. This is it. Finally, you recognize that everything you need to be happy is already present in this moment. You are alive, and the gift of life in infinitely precious. You can feel that your mind is completely at rest. Now you can return to whatever you were doing, and see how different it feels after having unplugged for just a little while.