Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

How to Cultivate a Spacious Mind

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If you’ve ever wished for a moment of peace, you were longing for a more spacious mind.

An overactive mind seems to be the norm in our over-the-top busy lives.  Your mind may be cluttered with distracting thoughts, to-do lists, plans for the future or ruminations about the past.  Or maybe it’s brimming with fear, worry, doubt, anger, jealousy or desire having been triggered by a comment, occurrence or your own imagination during the day.

Is a busy mind a happy mind?  Probably not.  In fact, the root of all our dissatisfaction and suffering lies in holding onto whatever arises in the mind.  Observe for yourself and see what you find out.

My mind has been very tense for the better part of my life – wound up by fear and a sense of inadequacy. At last, it’s beginning to loosen up!  I’m more capable at taking life in stride and living with greater ease.

What’s changed for me?

  1. I have fewer expectations.
  2. I understand that impermanence is the norm and am less likely to let it shake me up.
  3. I have an increased awareness of my deceptive internal beliefs, emotional patterns and what evokes the stress response in my life.
  4. I’m less driven and thus more willing to pause, take care, and trust.
  5. I have more clarity about my life purpose so I’m more able to focus on priorities instead of the small stuff.
  6. I’m willing to do less and trade sanity for well-being.

But, the biggest change underlying all this is a more spacious mind.  Of course, I’m still a work in progress and there’s plenty of room for added space, but what a relief not to be tied up in a ball of constant strain.

What Is A Spacious Mind?

A spacious mind is the opposite of a stressed mind.  It is open, flexible, and loving.  This open mind graciously accommodates any thought or emotion that appears without following, amplifying or multiplying it.

These are some of the qualities of a spacious mind:

  • Non-judgmental
  • Free of concepts
  • Acceptance
  • Humor
  • Love and compassion
  • Alert yet relaxed
  • Perspective
  • Clarity

How to Develop a Spacious Mind

1.  First, you have to realize that a spacious mind is possible.  Most people are blended with their thoughts and emotions and think that’s all there is.  You are not your thoughts and emotions.  You are not your brain.

2.  You need to know there’s something much bigger than these seemingly endless thoughts and emotions that are really only like trains passing by or pausing in a station for a few minutes. What do you find when the thoughts and emotions stop for a moment?  There’s a gap.  In that gap, you will find an unchanging pure awareness that’s with you all the time.  You’ll find your true essence – open, spacious, and free.

3.  Stop following the thoughts, emotions, and perceptions that pop up in your mind. Instead, allow your mind to rest in present moment awareness.  When you find yourself distracted – and you will indeed get pulled away many times – just bring your mind back to the present moment.  That’s the essence of basic meditation and the heart of mindfulness.

4.  Recognize the insubstantial nature of the material world.  Everything that seems concrete right now will someday disappear:  your body, your possessions, your work, and your worldly accomplishments.  It’s actually all moving and changing in this very moment.  It just seems more solid than it really is.  Align with your true being rather than the temporary appearances.

It takes time to stop identifying with your thoughts and emotions, a habit we’ve had for eons at least.  But, if you truly want a spacious mind, it can be yours.  In fact, it’s already there.  You just need to tap into it.  Keep practicing and gradually day-by-day the thoughts and emotions will start to lose their power and you’ll find more peace and ease.

I’m so glad you’re here! If you liked this article, please consider subscribing for free updates by email. With love, Sandra

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12 Comments

  1. I remember that I was having a discussion with my husband–he was having some anxiety issues–and I blurted out, “You don’t have to believe everything you think!”

    That was probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned in the past 9 months, as we’ve made some MAJOR life changes. Perceptions, thoughts, and emotions can seriously limit us, if we let them.

    Being able to understand that I am more than my thoughts and emotions was the tough part. I wasn’t able to do it, until a friend pointed out, right as I was saying something negative, that my thoughts weren’t useful to me at all.

    • Bethany,

      This is such a huge shift! I’m so happy for you. You’re right, it takes time to begin to *really* believe this and put it into action. But once we do, our life changes in such positive ways. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. What a great post Sandra. I was thinking to myself the other day, where are your thoughts…because there you are.

    I’ve started to say to myself on a regular basis – be here now…because it takes me to that place that you write about ” In that gap, you will find an unchanging pure awareness that’s with you all the time. You’ll find your true essence – open, spacious, and free.”

    And what I find there is simply joy. It’s a great place to be…even though I don’t live there all the day long!

    • I’m so happy that you feel this connection that goes beyond that chatter of the mind to a greater awareness that never dies. Thanks for showing us what you find there – joy! Of course, it’s not easy to live there all day long, as you point out. It takes dedicated training and using a reminder like you do is such a great idea. We couldn’t do away with thoughts even if we wanted to, they are the natural expression of this bigger mind. But once we learn not to cling to them, there are fewer thoughts and they become less troublesome.

  3. meditation– 2500 year old method for uncluttering the mind

  4. Sandra I love this post as reading it affirmed for me the spaciousness of my mind and how through meditation, daily beach walks and just sitting in stillness has brought me to a calmness I did not have before. Where I can release my thoughts and my emotions. it also helps me when something happens that in the past to upset me, I would have allowed my emotional state to take over
    namaste xx

    • I’m really happy for you, Suzie. You’ve really committed to doing “the work” and you are receiving the fabulous benefits. This is such an inspiration to all of us. It really shows that we can change. Especially when you can let go of something that would have upset you in the past. A big bow to you.

  5. Wonderful, wonderful post.

    I can relate to a lot of what you write here.

    Detachment (from worries, from material stuff, etc.) has been my savior. Meditation helps. But cognitive reframing is also useful.

    My life is simpler, more serene. I love it. 🙂

    • Hi Happiness!

      Yes, less attachment hits the core, but sometimes it can be hard to get there. Skillful means like cognitive reframing can really help. Thanks for sharing that tip with us.

  6. Sandra, thank you for the amazingly timely reminder. Don’t they say, there are no coincidences 🙂 Getting back in to the right frame of mind and meditation practise is a priority now.

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