A Blank Slate

Ever felt like you needed a new beginning? Entered a new chapter, but the past still had power over your mind? Had trouble forgiving yourself or others? Struggled to let it all go? Maybe it’s just me, but I thought walking away from whatever was holding me back automatically guaranteed peace of mind. And then I got here. I entered my new season and found out that pages from my previous chapter still had a power over me. I realized that just because I left things behind did not mean that I had truly let them go. Rereading chapters of my life while trying to embrace this new one…It wasn’t what I imagined. In a brand new place with brand new people, but in the back of my mind were still past events on replay. How do we free ourselves from this enslavement of the mind?

If you’ve ever gotten to a place where you felt it was time for a fresh start, that implies that you were ready to make changes. You do everything you can to make those changes, but you’re haunted by mistakes you’ve made, people from your past or events that have taken place. Whatever it is that may be consuming your mental energy needs to be let go of in order to truly embrace your new chapter. I’m about 3 months into my new chapter and I just now realized I have not been progressing as I imagined due to the power that my past has over my mind. I’m ready to regain mental control. It is time to bring out the big guns. I’ve been thinking, praying, writing, trying –and though I feel a lot better than I felt 3 months ago, I’m still not where I want to be. One day, I finally stopped and asked myself when am I going to stop reliving these events in my head and move on.

I began reading articles and blogs about controlling your thoughts. This may sound straightforward and obvious—just stop thinking about things—but anyone who has ever been hurt or made mistakes knows that that is far easier said than done. I think it’s safe to say that at some time or another many of us have gotten to the point of “I just can’t stop thinking about it/him/her/them/whateveritmaybe”. So then, how do you control these thoughts? There are numerous ways to distract yourself from them. Maybe you like to exercise, pray, draw, knit, take photographs, build things, write, or anything else that could stimulate you mentally and take your mind off of things.

Unfortunately, if you are anything like me, then you’ve experienced great freedom in the midst of your hobby, but shortly after you’re done with it, those pesky thoughts return. I know your frustration. I can’t just exercise for 12 hours straight. That is when I came across meditation which I thought would help me to regulate my thoughts. I may not be able to control what thoughts enter my mind, but I can be mindful about what thoughts I allow and which I need to do something about. Now, whenever I notice myself dwelling on an unhealthy thought, I try to focus on my breathing. This does not always work for me, but it is a start. Focusing on breathing can be a challenge, so if I am able, I will listen to something peaceful and focus on its sounds. I use the meditation app called Calm and it is equipped with several different sound options ranging from rain forests to oceans or even rays of light. Even when I cannot actually meditate, I will sometimes put a headphone in and just listen. This soothes me, but there may be something else that helps you to redirect your thoughts. Perhaps you could focus more on your surroundings or jot down the thought on paper and then rip it up.

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So far, we have discussed how a fresh start is not a fresh start if you still have lingering thoughts
holding you back. We’ve also discussed some ways to get those thoughts out of your mind. Now you’re probably wondering why the title of this blog is A Blank Slate. The previous discussion on controlling our thoughts is merely a coping strategy for dealing with thoughts that are already there, but what if I told you to stop having those thoughts all together? One night while I was meditating the words “A Blank Slate” just came to me. Picture this: you write all over a piece of paper. Next, you flip the piece of paper over. Is this new page blank? (No, this is not a trick question.) The page is indeed blank. But I guarantee that writings from the previous page are still somewhat visible. Try it if you don’t believe me.

I spent quite a while just thinking about this blank piece of paper that would otherwise have absolutely no meaning. What conclusions did I draw from envisioning a blank piece of paper? That although we all have a past, we now have a blank page with no writings on it yet. Even though my new chapter seemingly started 3 months ago, that time I spent thinking about my blank slate is what truly marks the beginning of my new chapter. I now have the power to write whatever I want on this empty page  (better yet, I can let God write this chapter) and nothing that was written before has to matter anymore. Have people hurt me? Yes. Have I forgiven them? Mostly. Have I made mistakes? Yes. Have I learned from them? Yes. Have I forgiven myself? Trying. This blank slate represents the fact that we have another chance to get it right. Not only do WE have another chance, but that means it is only fair that those people we may be struggling to forgive have their slate cleared as well. This does not mean those people have to  be apart of your new chapter, but that you forgive them and the things they did previously no longer have power over you. A blank slate for the both of you. No holding grudges (against yourself or others) when the page is clear. It is up to you what you will do with your blank slate. It is just important that you realize that you do have a blank slate in from of you.

Happy New Beginning!

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