Congratulations, you’ve reached the skills content of this week!
Below, we walk you through several ways of practicing wise mind and mindfulness in your own life. As with any skill, the strategies we introduce will require practice. You might find them challenging, even frustrating, at first. This is completely normal. Try to stick with it and you’ll notice improvement over time.
Practicing Wise Mind
In the last section we learned about wise mind and why it is a more beneficial state to operate from than reasonable or emotion mind. Here we discuss some strategies you can practice that will help you to get to wise mind.
- Notice when you’re not in wise mind. For example, notice when you’re in emotion mind. This might be when you’re highly anxious and unable to think straight. Then, try to balance your emotion mind with reasonable mind. You can do this by taking a moment to calm down and then asking yourself a series of questions to access your reasonable mind (e.g., “what are the facts?”, “what would I tell a friend?”, “what do I have control over right now?”). You might also practice some of the skills you learn later in this course to achieve this.
- Practice asking your wise mind a question. For example, you may recall something that has triggered your anxiety (e.g., an upcoming social event) and ask your wise mind how best to respond. You may offer your own suggestions and ask whether that fits with your wise mind (e.g., “is avoiding my friend’s party in line with wise mind”, “is going to the party with a support person in line with wise mind?”)
- Check in with your wise mind before making a decision or acting on impulse. Take time out to reflect on the pros and cons of your options. Make sure you consider the practical aspects (reasonable mind) and how you feel about each option (emotion mind). For example, your emotion mind might be telling you to avoid going to class, but your reasonable mind might tell you that this will get you in trouble. Check in with your wise mind to find what intuitively feels right.
- Attend to your breath to find wise mind within. Focus on your breath and notice the sensations in your body as the air comes in and goes out. Allow your attention to settle on a place within that represents wise mind for you (the centre of the forehead and above the belly button are common). This can be particularly helpful, as slowing down the breath can also help with reducing anxiety.
Practice a wise mind meditation. Wise mind meditations will guide you through a series of steps to help you reach wise mind. Most involve focusing on the breath, finding wise mind within, and then asking your inner self for guidance. Some also involve imagery exercises. You will find many wise mind meditation scripts and recordings freely available on the internet.