Does it feel like your mind is always going, analyzing, planning and problem-solving? Or even worse, worrying, thinking of bad things that could happen, and creating stress? Keeping your mind on overdrive may seem normal to busy people but it is not a healthy thing to do.
First of all, thinking so much robs you of simple pleasures such as enjoying the beauty of a moment. Second, an overactive mind is not functioning at its best. When you think too much, you often create problems that don’t even exist.
Third, thinking intensely non-stop limits your ability to truly listen to others because while they are talking you are thinking about what you are going to say next. And obviously, high stress levels lower your immune system and sooner or later lead to illness. Don’t let that happen to you!
The benefits of quieting your mind
Everybody needs to learn how to quiet their mind. Taking a break from our busy lives is not a waste of time but a way to enhance everything else. You know how sometimes you have a problem to solve, it seems that no amount of strategic planning gets you the solution, and magically, the answer comes to you in the shower?
That’s because for a moment you’ve let your mind rest and once the chatter was gone, the answer could surface. For most things in life, we already have the answer within ourselves. All we have to do is quiet the mind, be in the moment, and enjoy inner peace.
Where to start
If you have never meditated, taken a yoga class or breath workshop, you may have no idea where to start. The good news is that there are many ways for you to quiet your mind and practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is being aware of what is going on both within and around us. It is the continuous awareness of our bodies, emotions, and thoughts. You can start with what feels most natural to you; something that you can practice daily.
Here are 10 easy ways to quiet your mind
1. Being in nature
Removing yourself from your normal surroundings and walking on the beach, in the mountains, or even at a local park can help you clear your head, breathe some fresh air and lower your stress. Observe what you see, hear and feel. Enjoy all the beauty that the moment has to offer.
Working out is a great way to reduce stress and slow down an overactive mind. Choose activities that you enjoy, whether it is yoga, tai-chi, jogging, zumba, or any other. Your body will thank you.
3. Guided meditation
You can listen to a recording of a guided meditation and focus on the words you are hearing. It is easier to do than a silent meditation because your mind creates a visualization of what you are hearing so it is still engaged but not running the show.
4. Silent meditation
Sit in a room where you will not be disturbed. It takes practice to be able to stop thinking for a period of time. As a beginner, don’t make any judgment when you realize that you are having a thought. Just observe it and release it. You may visualize it as a bubble that you can pop, or see it floating away.
5. Focus on your breath
To clear your mind you can focus on your breathing, be fully present, feel your body, and simply pay attention to “inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale…” As you take long and deep breaths, feel the air moving in and out of your body. Notice the movement of your body, your chest, shoulders, rib cage and belly as you breathe. If your mind wanders, simply return your focus back to your breath.
6. Focus on an object
Rather than closing your eyes, you can look at a candle and focus on the flame, or choose any object and stare at it during your meditation. This form of meditation makes you concentrate on one thing, and helps reduce the frequency of other thoughts.
7. Use a mantra
For example, during your meditation, say OM (the vibrational sound of the universe), Sat Nam (meaning truth), or Shanti (peace). If you prefer using English, you can say “I am”, “Love”, “All is well”, or any other mantra that is soothing and peaceful to you.
8. Use music
If you like hearing chanting in Sanskrit you can listen to artists such as Krishna Das, who use mantras in their music. If not, you can reach a meditative state through other types of repetitive music or even classical music.
9. Walking meditation
It is a way to practice moving without a goal or intention. Mindful walking means walking while being aware of each step and of your breath. It can be practiced anywhere anytime. Keep your steps slow, relaxed, and calm. There is no rush, no place to get to, no hurry.
10. Pay attention to your thoughts
When your mind is overactive, pay attention to what emotions are generated by your thoughts. Realize that nobody is doing this to you; you are going this to yourself. You have the power to choose your thoughts. If a thought makes you feel bad, you can choose to drop it and choose a better thought, or an entirely different focus. Remember, you are the one in charge of what happens in your head.
Choose a practice that is right for you, and schedule time to do it daily. You may not be able to walk on the beach every day but you can find 5 minutes to meditate and progressively increase the length of your meditation. Make it a habit and a priority. It will improve your health, your emotions, your intellect, and your overall quality of life. Give yourself that gift. You deserve it.
About the author: Dr. Audrey Reille has empowered thousands of professionals through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, speaking engagements, online courses, and interviews on international telesummits. Audrey is the go-to coach for leaders in higher education