Our minds are constantly racing. Sometimes into the future, sometimes back to the past. Even when we rest the body with sleep, our unconscious mind is still at work. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always race to a good place. It tends to worry about real or perceived problems and it will race to the same place over and over again if we let it.
I call this type of ruminating thinking “not being present”. These are unconscious and often uncontrollable thoughts. And the problem with them is that they are exhausting and generally negative. This was a huge issue for me for most of my adult life. Here is one of the exercises I do to retake control of a runaway mind.
Think of nothing!
Sounds easy, but I bet you can’t do it for 30 seconds. Go ahead and give it a shot. I bet, that without even knowing it happens, you will begin thinking of something you have to do or some problem you have. Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
A great way to shut down the minds obsessive need to race forward or back is to overload your senses. You can do this exercise anywhere and anytime which makes it a very useful tool.
While doing whatever you are doing (sitting at work, walking, driving, lying in bed) observe every sensation you can.
LISTEN to every sound. Cars, planes, people, typing, footsteps, the fan, your breath.
FEEL everything. Your chair, steering wheel, your heart beat, footsteps, the wind.
SEE everything around you. Cars, people, birds, buildings, clouds, your hands, everything.
And do all of it all at once. This isn’t zoning out or meditating so it is safe to do while driving or walking or running. It is the opposite of zoning out. It is observing and being present. This overload will force your mind to deal with NOW so it can’t race to the past or future. It is too busy processing.
As you do this exercise, do not allow yourself to think about these sensations. Don’t see the flower and think “that is beautiful”, don’t feel your heartbeat and think of your health, don’t hear the plane and wonder where it is going. Don’t think, just observe. No labels, no judgment, no questions.
I practice this when I go for walks or runs or while driving. At first it was difficult to see a hawk and not label it as “beautiful or amazing” or whatever. But as I learned to observe with all of my senses at the same time I could keep myself from thinking longer and be more present to what was actually around me.
It feels great! When you complete your moment of being present you will feel a great relief or joy wash over you. You have rested your mind. I have read that one minute of not thinking is equal to 20 minutes of sleep.
BEWARE! Your mind has been running the show your entire life and is a master at what it does (Race) so be aware that it will trick you into thinking again. It will do this by judging or labeling what you hear, fee and see. When this happens, simply start again. At first, you may only find 10 seconds of peace. But with practice, you will become more aware and take more control of your mind.
Give it a shot and let hear about your experiences with this.
As always, your questions and comments are encouraged.
TruChoice Fitness & Health weightloss@TruChoiceFitness.com www.TruChoiceFitness.com