Quieting the Mind: Some Tricks that Work for Me

So….without a doubt the last 12 months have been pretty different for me.

I quit my full time job and joined a private mental health practice, started and stopped seeing kids in a school setting prior to and after a local shooting at a school, had some back/feet issues, and joined the ranks of the uterus free.

Oh yeah, and I moved from my hometown state of Indiana, where I had lived all of my years except the 2 where I lived in Cincinnati, Ohio and moved to McKinney, Texas, to be closer to my husbands work area.

Shoo. Sounds like a lot even when I write it.

I am a fairly structured person.

I have a routine when I wake up (love some hot tea in the mornings), a general routine throughout the day, and a time I go to bed most nights. I’m an early-bird, so falling asleep comes earlier than I wish it did sometimes, but it all works out.

During the last 15 months, I have brushed up on my counseling skills and become a little more current in my knowledge.

One area I find super important both to me and to my clients is using mindfulness to quiet the mind. Like many, I am a really good thinker, which can turn into worry. I can think about what is coming up, imagine what I should or could say in that situation, and then, after it occurs, think about what has been said and what might have been done differently.

When I am working with someone in therapy, we talk a lot about being in tune with their own feelings. We talk about what senses they use to calm themselves down.

I have found that for most people, they have a sense that they are more likely to utilize when their thinking starts to ‘take over’.

For some, that sense is hearing. They may become overstimulated by too many sounds, for instance, which can be a source of frustration for them. They may also be the person who says ‘when I get upset, I put on music and listen to it’.

I find it interesting how some people are calmed by calming, peaceful music. I am an acoustic girl myself. Some acoustic guitar, or some classical piano music, or anything by Peter, Paul and Mary are instant calm-downers for me. If it is really bad, out come The Carpenters. When Karen C and I sing together, it really calms me down.

For others, more intense, loud music with a strong beat is calming. When my husband and I were first dating, we had a constant battle over volume and type of music in the car. One of my friends joked that she liked to watch us constantly turn up and down the music on the radio, which we both did absentmindedly. He is more of a ‘layers’ person, and loves the grunge music of the 90’s. I find that music quite agitating, but for him, it is calming.

For others, their sense of what they see is their go-to for relaxation. They may be the person who looks out the window at the green trees in the summer. They may love to stare at a lake, or a picture of a lake. They may be able to close their eyes and envision a sandy beach and the sunshine beating down, or a forest with the sun peeking through the trees.

For those candle lovers out there, your sense that may be most calming may be your sense of smell. As a person with several seasonal allergies, I am more drawn to food smells in a candle, or the smell of fruits. For others, a clean, cotton smell, or the smell of cookies baking, or lilacs may be a very calming sense for you.

Taste and touch are the last two senses that can be drawn from when you consider the 5 senses.

For me, my clothes are really important to me, for my comfort both in temperature and in being comfortable in my clothes. I do not enjoy tight clothes, or clothes that are rough. For others, they may hate having a tag, or love to wear comfy pants.

Some people carry a rock in their pocket as part of their faith. The smooth edge of the rock can be a calming moment for them. Others wear bands around their wrists, and will snap them as a way to stay calm.

Many of us have all kinds of memories around taste. The taste of sweet may remind you of childhood in a positive way. The taste of something bitter may be how you wake up in the morning, and associate that taste with the smell of coffee.

Our senses are really intertwined-it is hard to imagine a taste without having a smell associated with it, and some things we see are very associated with what we hear.

I encourage you to use some time, as you finish reading this, to think about which senses help you quiet your mind and slow down from all of the tasks that are required of us.

Now imagine that you are seeing that thing that is a favorite, or listening to that sound of the waves crashing, or smelling the smell of cookies baking.

As you imagine hearing, seeing, touching, tasting, or smelling, think about things you have fond memories of. As you are imagine those smells, touches, etc., now breathe in for a count of 4.

Now wait for 2

and breathe out for 4.

and wait for 2 again.

As you do this continue to imagine you are hearing the familiar sounds that are helpful as you quiet the worries and the stresses in your mind.

Now look around you for something you can see. As you look, look at every piece of it. Notice the outside edges, the colors, and how the shadows surround it.

Continue breathing in and out, waiting for a beat of 2 in between each breath.

For me these steps are helpful in quieting some of those stressors, whether they are about work, family, the weather, or things we cannot or do not want to change.

Enjoy your day!

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A Beautiful Day in a Lovely Place: Takes Place in Indiana

In light of the 2 shootings this weekend (in Dayton and El Paso), I thought this article I wrote last September would be timely.

As we are all grateful for surviving another day, let’s think about ways to slow down the terror people are experiencing. Read on for more:

Noblesville is frequently recognized as one of the ‘best places to live’ lists, and Hamilton County, where Noblesville is located, is frequently called one of the most desirable places to live. It…
— Read on medium.com/@tdparke/being-trauma-informed-in-the-wake-of-a-school-shooting-adf4c38fc029

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry: What it Meant to Me

https://thriveglobal.com/stories/roll-of-thunder-hear-my-cry-what-it-meant-to-me/

Self Care: Adventures with Muffy

Muffy

We’re Getting There

I have found myself thinking about self care a lot lately.

I am a really good anticipator, therefore a professional dreader/worrier, so this recent move was more stressful, for the most part, before we did it.

I am beginning to meet potential clients and to develop a caseload. There are those who come to the office, and those who meet by tele therapy. I have a core group of office mates with skills different from my own, and I actually drove somewhere today without using my GPS

My downtime during the past year has certainly been different from previous years. As a teen, and even before then, I was as active as I could be.

In fact, when I was in 5th grade, my teacher (Mrs. Garmin), took me aside and told me I was in too many activities. She told me I needed to pick either sports, music, or academics to focus on outside to school.

I promptly went and ‘told on’ her to my parents. I pride myself on being pseudo-good at many things, and well practiced at the things that come most difficultly to me. I could not believe that she would even think to tell me to give up one of my activities, which included after school sports, Girl Scouts, band, before school choir, basketball when it was in season, swimming in the summer, guitar classes before school, high ability classes, and spending as much time as possible with my core friend group.

In high school, I kept up my pace. I can remember my senior year going from tennis practice to musical rehearsal every night during the spring semester. I dreamed one night that I had finished my reading assignment (Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities).

I woke up, realizing I had fallen asleep with the book on my lap, and had not read a page of it. Needless to say, I was quite disappointed.

Through it all, through Indiana University Marching 100 and Pep Band, the University of Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Fishers, Noblesville, and now Mckinney, Texas; I kept my favorite stuffed animal ‘Muffy’.

As we were moving to Texas, my husband pointed out we still have ‘that creepy dog you always want to keep’. He took it out of the box, and set it somewhere else in the garage (nothing else from that box made the cut that day).

I put it into a different tote, and found it the other day as we still work to conclude the endless task of unpacking.

I thought about how happy I had been, as a child, holding that dog as I slept.

I remembered wanting to have it with me when I fell asleep at my Grandma’s house, where I spent a lot of time.

I put it through the washer, and it looks quite a bit different than it did a couple of days ago, when it had spent the last 13 years in the garage in Noblesville.

It makes me think though. It makes me think about how important it is to slow down a bit.

Without the time we have taken to unpack our boxes, I wouldn’t have re-discovered old dirty Muffy. If we had a bump out in our garage in our new house, like we had in our old house in Noblesville, we probably wouldn’t have been going through each box so carefully.

It has been really interesting going through some boxes that have basically stayed packed since we began our journey together, 25 years ago.

Things that I love are: looking at water, seeing flowers bloom, swimming, and processing people and events I am a part of.

I also love watching mindless television (Hello, Big Brother), getting pedicures, and talking endlessly about nothing.

With a big life event, like moving to a new state, we have an opportunity to re-invent ourselves in some ways. I’ll never be seen as ‘the middle Dollens kid’ here in McKinney. I’m Terri Parke, from Indiana.

A Midwesterner

I encourage you to think about things you love.

Now I encourage you to take some time to fit them into your schedule. My 5th grade self did a great job of helping me learn to get and stay busy.

My 48 year old self says being busy is great, but so is enjoying the ride during the not so busy times.

I hope you take the time to do something you love today.

Or at least take a break from something you like a little less.

Happy Friday!

PodCast: Moving to McKinney, Making Change, and Reflecting

Today’s podcast is based on the article of a similar name about our move to Texas and our opportunities included with that.

I am excited to announce that I have office space in McKinney (Craig Ranch) Texas, and will begin seeing clients on July 8th. Hope your day is going well-and that you enjoy listening.

https://www.podbean.com/ei/pb-chz3p-b5cb74

Thanks!

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