Stopping the voice in your head seems like an impossibility at times.
The endless loop that stays with us all day rarely pauses, except perhaps when we’re with others or absorbed in work or play.
Studies show that repetitive thoughts can lead to anxiety or depression, especially if the thoughts aren’t grounded in reality (which they usually are not.)
Repetition in the firing of neural circuits tends to strengthen those circuits. The more you ruminate, obsess, or recycle, the stronger the ruminating circuit gets.*
How to close this loop? I loved this post from Fast Company magazine:
“With technology, economic pressures, work, and family, it’s impossible to be on top of everything and it’s upsetting our natural balance,” said Victor Davich, author of 8-Minute Meditation: Quiet Your Mind, Change Your Life.
This overload and overwhelm often lead to anxiety, fear, and depression, and while you can’t check out of life and avoid responsibility, you can approach things in a gentler way.
The mind isn’t going to stop thinking. The goal of mindfulness isn’t to suppress thinking, but to surpass it.
The key is how you react to your thoughts. If you focus on your thinking, your mind is like an electric fan with thoughts blowing everywhere, says Davich. When you focus on your breathing or your body, however, thoughts can come and go like clouds across a sky.
“You can look at them, realize they are just thoughts, and let them go,” he says. “You don’t have to have an emotional attachment to them.”
Davich shares three simple steps you can take to quiet your mind:
• Get into a good position. Take a deep breath and sigh it out. Sit comfortably and relax your body as much as you can.
• Get in touch with your breathing. Close your eyes and find the place in your body where you feel your breath most prominently: your abdomen, diaphragm, or under your nostrils. Start to focus your attention in a gentle way to your breathing – this will be your anchor point.
• Detach from your thoughts. Within a few seconds, distractions like thoughts, body sensations, or images will start to bubble up. Realize that this is normal and gently return to the anchor point. Continue this for eight minutes.
I realize that you and I both come to Modus45 for reasons other than quieting your mind; rather, you’re coming for better balance, a stronger core, or a more flexible body.
However, by working on mindfulness, aren’t we also creating balance, strength, and flexibility in another, yet equally meaningful, way?
Whether you are master of your mental universe (or running along with me on the proverbial hamster wheel,) recognizing thought patterns as “clouds across the sky” is powerful food for thought.