Do you consider your mind a friend or an enemy?
Does it sometimes switch from believing in you one moment and then beating you up the next?
Or, does it stay with you like a faithful ally through thick and thin?
We all know how it feels when our minds betray us. We want to tear out our hair and run as far away as possible from the feelings and thoughts it’s churning up.
We wish there was an off button.
It’s our responsibility to elevate the mind into the status of a friend and ally. If we don’t make the effort to elevate it, the mind becomes our enemy.
One of the most powerful ways to elevate the mind is by creating a healthier relationship with it.
You can think of the mind like a pseudo-entity within you, almost like a pet dog that serves you.
In fact, many of the processes that make up our human mind come from the evolutionary journey of animals that existed before us, yet are still physiologically part of us (like the mammalian mid-brain and the reptilian brain stem).
We all need ways to befriend and honor the minds nature, so that it behaves like a well-trained companion, rather than our bitter enemy.
When we establish a healthy relationship with the mind, we elevate its potential and drastically improve our quality of life.
Here are 12 ways to elevate your mind
1. Nourish it
Have a healthy consumption of entertainment and media. Give your mind inspiring and positive things to see, read, and hear. If we give our mind’s crap, then they will think and feel like crap.
Think about what you’re consuming and consider if it’s “healthy”, or “junk” and moderate the amount of unhealthy experiences that you consume. Nourishing the mind also includes the foods we eat. Moderating caffeine, sugar, alcohol and other foods that impact the mind is essential.
2. Train it
Have a meditation practice where you train the mind. The mind’s muscle is attention. In meditation, practice concentrating the mind on the breath, and opening up your attention to the present moment using nonjudgemental awareness.
Your mind’s muscle of attention will strengthen, and it will be a powerful tool to help you get things done in your life, and illuminate yourself and the world clearly.
3. Uplift it
Don’t allow the mind to ruminate on self-critical or judgmental thoughts of yourself or others. Use positive affirmations to counteract negative thought patterns. We feel negative thoughts are true, because we’ve identified with them and believed them for so long.
These judgements were programmed into us–they are not natural to us. Use positive affirmations to counteract these learned negative thought patterns, and create new positive patterns instead.
4. Rest it
Give your mind plenty of rest. The mind cannot function without enough sleep, or proper rest. When we’re tired the mind defaults to the lowest patterns of behavior, and enters “survival mode”.
Survival is always about conserving energy and feeling safe, so we often veg out on our phones, or watch TV. The mind doesn’t have the focus or willpower necessary to get things done unless it’s rested.
5. Focus it
Do one thing at a time. The mind can easily trick us into thinking it can do many things at once, but it can’t. Pick one thing and apply your full attention to it. You’ll be surprised how more effective you are, and your mind will thank you later.
6. Ground it
Get into nature and disconnect. When the mind is overstimulated it feels frazzled and anxious. Go for a walk, or visit a nearby park. Make an effort to connect to nature. Nature offers the perfect environment to ground the mind in a peaceful, stable environment.
Overstimulation and disconnection weakens the mind, and we need to be careful if we’re always on screens, socializing, or stimulating ourselves. You can also try having a no-screen day once a week.
7. Reframe it
The mind evolved to pursue pleasure and avoid pain as a matter of survival. When things get hard, it will often want to quit or give up, because of this deeply ingrained pattern.
By reframing challenging or painful experiences, we can help the mind see the value they have and why it’s important to stick with them. This means reminding the mind to have gratitude for difficult experiences, and seeing the opportunities for growth in whatever happens.
8. Know it
This one is key. What kind of friend are we if we don’t know someone we consider a friend? Understand your mind by observing it. What are your mind’s tendencies? What are its strengths and weaknesses? What are its needs?
Observe your mind and see how it functions. The mind is like a child, once we bring our attention and presence to its behavior, it automatically starts acting better, and we can objectively understand how to treat it in different situations.
9. Discipline it
This one is also key. The mind is not the boss, you are. Following the mind’s tendency towards the pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain will distract you from accomplishing the things you aspire to do with your life.
By discipling the mind, you teach it to follow your intentions and focus on what matters most to you. Getting disciplined happens one small step at a time. There is no action too small. Whenever you get the feeling “I don’t want to do this”, do it anyway. Each time you do, you’ll gain greater and greater self-discipline.
10. Move it
The mind and body are not separate. Moving the body means giving the mind the necessary exercise it needs to perform at its best and feel good. The mind loves movement and rewards us with feel-good chemicals.
Movement comes in many forms. You don’t need to go to the gym, or lift weights. Find a sport or activity that gets you up and moving. Even a simple 10-20 minute walk can have a profound effect on your mind bringing you more clarity and contentment.
11. Express it
The thoughts and feelings your mind has are worthy of honoring and attending. Creative activities of all kinds can help you express your mind. Journaling, contemplating, talking or other forms of expression will help your mind find healthy outlets for your experiences and emotions.
Journaling is especially helpful when things are challenging and it’s difficult to get perspective on whatever you’re going through. Journaling thoughts and feelings onto a page is immediately relieving, and helps you see them objectively from another perspective outside your head.
12. Love it
Last, and most important of all, we need to love our minds. The human mind is limited, emotional, easily deceived, and prone to laziness, yet despite all this it has incredible potential.
When we learn to embrace our mind in wholeness, we create a sense of integrity within ourselves that gives us peace, fulfillment, and contentment.
It’s not easy to love our mind, it’s something that we constantly need to work on like an actual marriage or friendship.
As you deepen your relationship with your mind, it becomes a dependable, loving companion here to serve you and your highest good.
What’s your relationship with your mind like? Do you think it could improve? What are some ways you befriend your mind, and help it when it’s down?