Going Dark

Written by Kathy Jacobson

Nov 15, 2022

One of my Methods for Becoming Calm is focusing your attention on your senses. Take a few moments to notice what you can see, what you can smell, what you can hear, and taste and feel. The idea is that by opening your senses and becoming more mindful and aware of the world around you, you can switch your brain from whatever is agitating your mind to finding calm in the world around you.

The science of neuroplasticity teaches us is that the human brain dislikes ambiguity. When we’re faced with a problem, or a conflict, or a situation, and we don’t have all the facts, our brains will fill in the gaps. We’ll pull observations from here, snippets from there, news items and gossip from somewhere else, and we’ll mix it with our prejudices and our opinions and try to put together a story. If the story doesn’t quite make sense, or doesn’t jibe with what we want, or reinforces our doubts and fears, we end up in a state of mental turbulence.

Thus, by refocusing on our senses, we can quiet the upheaval going on in our brains. Though there are occasional exceptions, we tend to trust what we can observe through out senses. And by concentrating on those observations, if we give our whole attention to the physical world, we can replace confusion with curiosity, we can trade hostility with humor, we let go of apprehension and choose awareness instead.

Then, recently, during a discussion about becoming calm, one of my students shared a technique that works for her. She retreats into darkness. She goes into her quiet bedroom and turns off the lights. She dons an eye shield and puts in earplugs. She removes as much sensory input as she can.

I was struck by this suggestion on several levels. First, because such a technique had never occurred to me, yet I could see its appeal and immediately added it to my list. And second, because I know from experience that if I want my intuition to be trustworthy, I have to clear my mind of all judgments, prejudices and positions. It’s the same principle. I have to relax into neutrality. By “going dark” I can hear the promptings of my heart (or my conscience, or spirit – or whatever that inner voice might be called.)

And third, I was reminded that each of us, always, have to find our own way. Whether we learn from others through study and observation, or we experiment with techniques and methodologies to find the ones that work best for us, or we study with a teacher or work with a guide or a coach, in the end what works for us may be a combination culled from many sources. Or none of the above.

I invite you to visit the Tools menu and explore my suggested Methods for Becoming Calm. You may find several that help you find peace of mind in this era of frequent over-stimulation.

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