Do you ever feel like your mind, well, has a mind of its own?? Is it hard to turn it off? Does it get in the way of paying attention or trying to fall asleep? Do you feel like you're "all head", as if your body hardly exists, except to carry around this constantly whirring brain? You're not alone. It doesn't matter where I am or who I'm with, as soon as I mention that I teach mindfulness, meditation, and stress management, I can count on at least one person saying, "Boy, do I need that class!" The next phrase I usually hear is, "I tried meditating and I just couldn't get my mind to shut off or even slow down." The thing is, thinking is what your mind does and it's not necessarily a bad thing. We get into trouble when we overstimulate it and become obsessed with our thoughts.
Every time you get on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever your favorite form of social media is ... every time you turn on the news or read the whole first section of the newspaper ... every time you do any of that and more, you are falling down the rabbit hole of judgement, analysis, commentary, worry, forecasting, and general distraction. It's no wonder we can't wind down at the end of the day.
We think, and think, and then, think some more. If we have a headache, we think about what might be wrong with us and we usually think the worst like maybe it's a brain tumor. If we really stopped and listened to our body we might realize we're thirsty, or we've been in front of the computer too long, or we've been in an uncomfortable position for a few hours. If we have a stomach ache we might think we have an ulcer or something even more awful when it might be that we're simply hungry.
One of the first things I do with someone in a stress management class is to reintroduce them to their body. Noticing where there's tension or pain and doing it without judgement and maybe sending some compassion to that part of the body is a great place to start. Discovering the wonder of how well our bodies serve us and being grateful takes our mind off the tragedies we can read or hear about anytime of the day, if we choose. Noticing where we feel stress and tension in our bodies -- chest? solar plexus? lower abdomen? shoulders? -- allows us to focus on what's really going on. Does it feel like fear or anger or anxiety? How can we comfort ourselves? If we try to think our way through it, we'll likely stay stuck.
There's a wonderful couple of lines from the poem Wild Geese by Mary Oliver:
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the
You only have to let the soft animal
of your body
love what it loves.
When our daily activities become repetitive, we tend to check out. We automatically go through the motions while our minds repeat a lot of the same stuff, over and over. When we are overloaded with emails, news, information, and advertisements we can feel frazzled and debilitated and even depressed. Of course some thinking is useful and even necessary, but overthinking is exhausting and it gets in the way of what we really might want to do.
Come back home to your body. Re-connect your mind with it. Let yourself become integrated and whole again. Be fully engaged even if you're just brushing your teeth. Both your mind and your body will appreciate it and this is what I wish for you.
Love and Sparkles,