Slow Down Your Mind
“Sometimes I think there are only two instructions we need to follow to develop and deepen our spiritual life: slow down and let go.”
― Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Dance: Moving To the Rhythms of Your True Self
Has your mind ever been racing at the speed of light? You have so many thoughts inside of your head that it overwhelms you. You get so overwhelmed that it confuses you and you decide "I will just zone out." So, you pick up the remote and watch a marathon of your favorite TV series hoping that those thoughts will just disappear into infinity.
Yes, you are not alone. I have been there too.
Racing thoughts can make you feel like your life is out of control. You are not sure which direction to take or what to do next. This overwhelming feeling will paralyze you. But there are some tried and true strategies that can help you get past what you are feeling and bring you into a peaceful place.
The first thing you must do is CALM DOWN. Become aware of where you are in this moment. Look around and just observe your surroundings. "Oh, look at that pretty picture over there. What about the color of these walls? I never noticed that spot in the middle of the carpet."
Observation will slow down your mind and get you to focus in the NOW - the present moment. Try this 2-minute meditation to stop racing thoughts in their tracks.
The second thing you should do is a mind dump. I talk more about this in my post on 5 Strategies to Clear Your Mind. Racing thoughts can also result from having too many items in your task list. Your working memory is responsible for holding all of this information. The problem with working memory is that it is does not have a very large capacity. Applying the strategies to clear your mind can help you reset and so that you can start off in a place of calm instead of frenzy.
Breathing is also an effective technique to slow down your thoughts. Yes, I know. You are already breathing. But this type of breathing is full of intent and awareness. Most of us rarely take very deep breaths. "Cleansing breaths" can help relax you and make you feel calm. Check out these three breathing techniques to start.
Getting the proper amount of rest is also a critical part of keeping a calm mind. Not getting enough sleep or rest can produce anxiety which feeds the spinning wheels of your mind. Some of us have a difficult time falling asleep at night only to find ourselves drowsy in the middle of the day. Take advantage of that mid-day drowsiness by napping instead of getting a cup of coffee or a coke. According to the Nation Sleep Foundation napping can increase your mental alertness resulting in you having a more productive day.
Finally, the use of a mantra can be extremely helpful in stopping those racing thoughts in their track. Adopting simple phrases like "All is well," "Everything is OK," and "This too shall pass" are just more than passing cliches. Repeating a phrase aloud can be a trigger for your mind and body to relax.
Let's recap. To stop the racing thoughts, you should:
Focus on the NOW through observation
Do a "mind dump"
Get some rest (take a nap)
Use a mantra
Just writing this for you made me feel calmer.
Other resources that can help you are classes to guide you in meditation practices.
For a low-cost class that will teach you practical ways to do meditation, click in the link below.
Racing thoughts are a sign that you need to slow down. Don't ignore it. Implement these five strategies and you will be well on your way to a calmer, more peaceful state of mind. I will talk to you more about "letting go" in future posts.
Keep growing. I am cheering for you!