We live in challenging times. There are so many opportunities for us to make ourselves sick with worry, so many ways to fill our days, nights, and Facebook feeds with anguish. Some of the worry is vicarious, and some of it is incredibly personal and firsthand. All that anxiety takes a tremendous toll on ourselves, our minds, our hearts, our ability to do what must be done in our own lives to keep advancing.
To mitigate the effects of some of this very real psychological warfare that we wage against ourselves, there’s an ancient meditation practice we can draw upon, a method of mental self-protection, which I first learned from Stephen K. Hayes. Using the most modern tools, we can freshen it up for today’s world.
What you’ll need: headphones, a device capable of playing your favorite music, and about 15-20 minutes of uninterrupted time depending on the songs you like. No sitting on top of mountains needed, just a room where you won’t be interrupted, by other people or by yourself.
Using the music and software of your choice, you’re going to pick 5 songs you know well and assemble them into a playlist. The platform doesn’t matter, use whatever you like best, from iTunes to Spotify to Pandora, etc.
First Song: Reboot
For the first song in your playlist, pick a song that reboots you. The song should cause you to forget whatever it is you were doing, to stop and just listen. The song should command 100% of your attention.
Second Song: Action
The second song in your playlist should inspire you to take correct actions, to move in the world in the most positive, most productive way. Maybe it’s a favorite workout song that gets you pumped up. Maybe it’s an inspiring song that makes you get up and want to join a cause.
Third Song: Word
The third song in your playlist should inspire you to choose correct words, words that heal and help, rather than harm. What songs inspire you to be more poetic, to speak better, to choose words? You could pick a love song, perhaps, or a song that has helped you say the right things during tough times and tough relationships.
Fourth Song: Thought
Your fourth song should inspire you to think more clearly. What music helps you to reflect, to reason, to take some time to have a conversation with yourself? What song makes you contemplate or dive deep inside to understand what you’re thinking? What song forces you to pause, close the door, and think?
Fifth Song: Armor
The final song in your playlist should be your armor. This is the song that makes you stand up tall, feel like you’re invincible, powered up, ready to take on the world. This is the song that, when you hear it, makes you feel like the arrows being fired at you simply bounce off, like a superhero. You brighten up, you almost literally shine.
You’ll note that I have assiduously avoided any mention of the songs on my personal playlists. These songs are deeply personal to you, and only to you. Take the time to root through your music catalog to find the perfect fits for yourself, rather than emulate what someone else uses. Like a favorite recipe, what you love most will work best for you and you alone. Change out songs as you need to, as you find better songs that fit each role more perfectly.
Use this to armor up, to protect yourself against an increasingly hostile, depleting world.
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