What To Do When Your Mind Just Runs
Your mind loves to run, kind of like wild horses. So fast and wonderful, but there is no real focus or destination in mind.
"Wild horse mode" feels like you're handling everything that’s coming up and multitasking like a boss and preparing to move into hyperdrive, just like the Millennial Falcon. The truth is that you're shortchanging yourself by letting the chaos run unchecked. You are running in default mode which is a mix between get ‘er done and lower brain pinball. Not exactly how you would like to live your life.
If you randomly think about everything, then you're not thinking about anything, meaning any one thing.
You are barely able to make decisions because busy mode keeps you from hearing your inner guidance system. The noise of your brain is just loud enough to drown out any whisper of truth. The din feels important and productive, but that is just a story you are telling yourself.
A Settled Mind
There is something beautiful about a settled mind, a quieted mind. It produces a relaxed and open feeling. Your body feels in sync and you can hear your breath. The stress begins to leak away.
I used to think that letting my brain tumble willy nilly was how I solved problems. It turns out that I was mostly just spinning up with ideas and questions and not really making an effort to gain traction and be decisive. It’s like a running a car in first gear and the engine is winding up higher and higher, but the car isn’t going any faster. Cars are meant to cover ground in a more relaxed and efficient gear.
One of the biggest helps to quieting my mind is simply practicing slowing it down. I love meditation because it reminds me that my mind has an off button.
Left to it’s own designs, my mind stays busy and mildly chaotic. That flows right into my day, which turns out busy and mildly chaotic. Go figure.
“Welcome to the Party”
Some time ago, during a guided meditation, the gentleman talked about never being disappointed that thoughts were rolling in, but rather to expect it and just think the phrase, “Welcome to the party.” Then, without attaching to the thought, let it drift off and bring the focus back to the breath. It means that thoughts during meditation are a normal and welcome occurrence. Nothing has gone wrong. Sometimes, I am repeating this phrase almost non-stop during my meditation and that’s totally perfect for that day.
"Welcome to the party" and then back to my breath is an approach that serves me all day. When I get cutoff in traffic, I just whisper, “welcome to the party” and relax. When my checkout gal at the store is unexpectedly struggling with the transaction, I think, “welcome.” I don’t do it with any sarcasm or mockery. It’s just a reminder to me that I can welcome all the things with love and acceptance or I can be disappointed and frustrated. I get to decide how I feel with my thoughts.
Changing Your Brainwaves
There has been extensive research on brain activity and the proof points to our brains functioning so much better not in “hyperdrive.”
How to Slow Down
Sit down on the couch and close your eyes
Take 5 deep breaths, counting in your mind as you breath in and out
Check in with your physical body by doing a head to toe scan
Take a quick walk around the neighborhood, focusing on the sights and sounds
Benefits of Slowing Down
Gain a new perspective on a stressful situation
Enjoy a feeling of calm
Be more present
Experiment and find a way that works for you. Start trying different ideas. Keep it simple and doable. You may have a way that you love, that you just need to incorporate more into your schedule. The benefits of relaxing your brain go on long after your brief moment of repose. Find out what happens when you slow down the mind chatter and delight in your breath.