Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

By Maria Sylvester, MSW, CPC

“A golden mind, a golden life.” ~ Gurumayi 

Assuming stewardship over our minds can be a full-time job — a job that’s definitely essential.

The time, effort, and energy you bring to this work betters yourself and your community. You, and only you, are the caretaker of your thoughts. It’s a privilege, an honor, and a challenge. You are the one solely responsible for managing your perceptions and persuasions, your hopes and dreams.

Cultivating a strong mind has always been a priority for me. It’s a life-long practice. I believe that the quality of our thoughts determine the quality of our lives. Since I’m passionate about having a kick-ass, amazing, multi-faceted life, mindset caretaking will always remain at the top of my soul-care list. I’m all in for a golden mind and a golden life!

What takes root in your mind definitely impacts how you’ll feel and behave. What we think about profoundly and directly effects who we are. Therefore, the caretaking of your mind is a huge responsibility with a grand payoff — one that endlessly fascinates me. How do we best keep ourselves regulated in a good, solid state of mind? How do we manage this freedom of will? This is the challenge many of my life coaching clients face daily. Here, I’ll share my three favorite rants on the subject.

Vigilant Self-Awareness

Maintaining a golden mental state demands vigilance. Letting your thoughts slip into default mode is not really an option if you’re striving for a brilliant mindset. Instead, one must welcome the practice of radical self-awareness — of mindfully witnessing the subject matter of your thoughts and where they roam. It’s like tending a garden — you’ll want to carefully plant positive seeds, i.e. thoughts that align with your highest nature and desires, that enhance your feelings of well-being. Then you’ll want to observe how these thoughts grow, tending to your desires with gentle care and loving consideration. Lastly, you’ll want to weed regularly, clearing out whatever thoughts infringe upon your happiness.

One practice I do to help maintain a right frame of mind — meaning one that helps me thrive and do well in my life — is the ritual of tracking. I vigilantly track my moods, and when I notice a funky one, I’ll trace my steps backwards. I’ll reflect on what thought I was having right before I felt the mood dip. Regularly practicing this type of self-awareness has enabled me to quickly identify problematic thoughts that trigger my upset moods. Once conscious of such, I can make a choice: I can keep thinking whatever it is that leaves me in angst, or flip the thought into an idea that elevates me.

Understanding the Stress Response Cycle

Another reason I value taking care of my mind every day comes from appreciating the utter havoc stress can have on the body, as well as on our mental functioning. Science has taught us that the chemicals released in the brain during a stressful situation can actually shut down the immune system and the body’s ability to grow. In the emotional panic states of fight, flight, or freeze, for instance, the body allocates most of its energy to coping, protecting it in what feels like a life-or-death moment. Stress hormones, when raging through the body, inhibit the growth of otherwise healthy cells. The result is increased illness and a compromised immune system. I read somewhere that 90% of illness is stress-related. Crazy, eh? If that’s not motivation for maintaining a healthy mindset, I’m not sure what would be! 

If our nervous system becomes racked with stress after we imagine painful scenarios,  ruminate on negative ideas, focus on potentially bad outcomes, or make false assumptions, we’re suddenly heading down a self-destructive, potentially catastrophic path. Additionally, my understanding of the stress response is that when in this highly aroused state, our sense of conscious reasoning flies out the window. We’re likely to be highly reactive vs. responsive. Reflexive behavior takes over. In other words, we become less intelligent when stressed, and the body’s blood flow gets pulled away from the brain. That fact alone convinced me to practice good mindset caretaking!

Careful Mental Consumption

It seems to me that if you desire a golden life, you’ll want a well-exercised, sharply-focused mind. Habits help develop such. Consider carefully what weakens your mind, leaving you foggy, unfocused, or randomly grazing on useless content. Clearly good sleep, sound nutrition, regular exercise, and minimal or no use of intoxicating substances help keep our brains functioning well. Trying to avoid repetitive negative thought patterns also helps limit the likelihood of depression, anxiety, or mental paralysis. 

Next, consider what you mentally consume on a daily basis. What do you let influence you? Is the media you watch, read, or listen to of high or low quality? Do you scroll endlessly, watch junk TV, or listen to mindless radio chatter? On the other hand, perhaps you meditate, read intellectually stimulating articles, do crossword puzzles, and listen to life-enhancing podcasts. Do you actively seek to strengthen your mind, or is it just along for a joy ride? Cognitive well-being is always enhanced by life-long learning. A sharp mind is a healthy mind! Step into your genius.

How about the friends and company you keep? What values and standards do they live by? I thrive on being surrounded by active learners who challenge and inspire me. I seek out relationships with people who have positive energy and uplifting thought patterns. I love hanging with spiritually awake humans who are very present in their lives, typically focused on personal development and growth. When I surround myself with highly-conscious, caring, fun-loving individuals, I grow exponentially. My mind is beautifully stretched and exercised. It opens up. All these factors are highly relevant to stellar mindset caretaking. 

The Life Satisfaction Factor

The quality of one’s personal well-being and life satisfaction are, I believe, significantly impacted by how well we care for our minds. I’ve coached individuals who were so deeply entrenched in negative thought patterns and false beliefs that their lives were literally crumbling around them — not to mention the depression and anxiety that plagued them. Only after extreme interventions and serious team effort were they able to shift mindsets, and most importantly, the course of their lives. I frequently reminded them: “Thoughts are just energy, and one can always change their energy.” This proved instrumental.

I’ve also witnessed the beauty and bliss of those individuals who, despite serious life challenges and hardships, could maintain steady mental equilibrium and positive outlooks. They could repeatedly, and masterfully, problem-solve their way to even grander heights and lasting joy. Greater levels of personal fulfillment directly correlate to good mental caretaking strategies. Making an unwavering commitment to lovingly tend to your mental landscape is one of the very best gifts you can give yourself. The rewards are infinite. 

BIO: 

Maria Sylvester, MSW, CPC is a certified Life Coach in Ann Arbor, MI who loves empowering
adolescents, adults, and couples to live from the HEART of what really matters to them so that
they can bring their fully expressed, vibrant selves into the world. She has a special gift for helping
women reclaim their feminine power, and embrace their radiant, sensual, sexy spirits. Their lives
transform. They soar into their mid-life magnificence!

https://www.lifeempowermentcoaching.com/