Let your mind be an oasis
Not a warzone.
Today’s post comes with sincerity and urging. When I think back to the ‘old me’… I recognize that my mind was NOT a healthy place. My internal dialogue was debilitating. The self-critic in me was winning. The awful things I was taught to believe, were choking out the truth. Can you relate?
Shed the old beliefs.
At some point during the year, I realized I needed to shed the old, and completely re-do the landscape of my mind. After all, it is where we spend ALL of our time. No matter where our physical bodies are, our mind is there. The picture our mind paints is either casting shadows into our reality, or lighting up the path forward.
Many may argue that what is happening in the world is what is actually casting shadows. And that it is hard not to be angry about what is happening around us. At this point, I’ve opened up here and there about my past experiences and traumas. Each of those things I have every right to be angry over. And also went through a healing process for each individual situation, as well as the unfortunate long term effects they had on me.
Additionally, this blog is NOT intended to spread toxic positivity. Therefore, I encourage anyone who has dealt with trauma, or has reoccurring anxiety or anger over the things happening around them or to them to seek appropriate treatment. Either through therapy, medication or removing themselves from the situation.
Much of the things that go on outside of us, or the things that happen to us influences our thoughts and what we believe about ourselves. As mentioned in a previous post about erasing some bad advice, similarly, we need to be aware of what is growing in our minds based on these experiences and on-goings in the world.
What does the landscape of your mind look like?
Growing up as I did, close to the Jersey Shore, often I’d see people having caricatures made of themselves. This is where the artist exaggerates certain features to make a cartoon like version of the individual sitting for their portrait.
If you were to have someone draw a caricature of not your face, but instead your mind; what would it look like? Are there common thoughts which the artist would exaggerate? Or perhaps, insecurities the artist would highlight and make even bigger?
Would your mind’s caricature be a flourishing garden or would it be a person carrying a heavy load? The great news is, YOU and only you can begin to tend to the thoughts in your mind. YOU have the power to change what goes on in your mind, and therefore what grows there. If you want a rose garden inspired by a castle, or maybe a field of tulips that you might see in Holland. Or perhaps, you’d like a grand mountain range with snow capped peaks.
Select the landscape which resonates with you, and begin to create that picture in your mind. Use your thoughts to form an oasis in your mind. A place you can go to escape to when there is no solace in the outside world.
Allowing your mind to be the oasis
Once you have the picture you’d like your mind to be. It is time to allow your mind to be that oasis. There are many instances in which I’ve used this technique. Two of which I’ll provide example for here.
Storytime: Dental Work
The first is when I had years worth of dental work done without going under. Over a decade ago I was in a super unfortunate situation (which I take full responsibility for). Because of that situation, dental work became necessary; however I did not want to go under due to separate fears. Along the way of getting everything fixed, I soon came to realize I would need a way to go to a different place in my mind. After all, pain is real. My desire to stay awake and not have to go under was greater than my fear of the pain. In addition, I couldn’t talk my way through the situation. (Haha, this makes me laugh as I write it, but I often just use talking as a way to distract from reality. Anyway!). So – I came up with a solution.
During these appointments, I would call to my mind’s eye an island oasis. Mind you, I’ve only been to one island. Somehow I had seen enough pictures over the years of the ocean rolling up on the beach and a palm tree swaying gently in a breeze; to be able to call to mind this scene. Through all the appointments, I would simply call to mind this scene, to the point where I could almost taste the salt water, and feel the warm air against my skin.
The second place I’ve used my mind-oasis is while I am in the airport. Since the beginning of my career, flying became a regular activity. And wow has it changed over the years. Especially during the pandemic, but even before, the stress of travel can easily be overwhelming. In fact, in general, being out in public seems to bring a certain stress level. The airport is a special place. Some people are going on their honeymoon, others are on the way to funerals. Many are excited to reunite with loved ones. And still others, often me, are simply commuting to work!
At this point, I have no idea how many times I’ve flown; and for that matter, how many hands of new flyers I’ve held. Typically once in the air, I am in the zone. (I spoke on this in a post from 2021!) However, it is the time at the airport which can require a mindset shift! Perhaps not as great as being in the dentist office, being in the airport can just be all around a rough place. During the pandemic especially, people were on edge. Many of the vendors weren’t open to serve food; and even once the Charlotte airport didn’t even have running water. Between the massive amount of activity happening, as well as the potential delays; it can be a stressful place to be.
Therefore, when I am at the airport, if I can’t distract myself by talking to a stranger, or opening my laptop to finish some work. I instead go into the oasis in my mind and hang out there. Sometimes this is the same island scene, and sometimes it is imagining being home. Other times it is walking through the gardens at the Biltmore, or remembering a cozy room I stayed in at the Billy Graham property, The Cove (in Asheville, NC).
Building your oasis
Hopefully these examples have inspired you enough to build your own mind-oasis! If you need the help of actual pictures, perhaps it is time to make a new Pinterest board. Maybe even, have an actual picture as the background of your phone to use as reference. Either way, come up with a scene or multiple scenes where you can go in your mind to relax. My examples may not resonate with you, maybe your scene is at a restaurant in NYC, or at home with a loved one by your side. Or maybe, it is a forest you’ve hiked in. Perhaps, it is a fully fictional scene you’ve created or you’ve seen in a movie.
No matter what, build your oasis and allow yourself to go there. Once you have an oasis in your mind, no matter where you go, you can come back to yourself and feel peace. Let this be the encouragement to create your scene today!
Where ever you go, there you are. Bring your oasis with you. Create a space in your mind to retreat to when what is happening around you isn’t pleasant.