By Dr. Sue Morter
These days, life moves at a rapid pace and racing along with it is our tired, over-worked mind. With everything we have to do each day, we are constantly thinking and over-thinking. If we’re not thinking about what we need to accomplish for our day, we’re thinking about what we’re going to be doing tomorrow or what we wish we would have done differently yesterday.
This type of thinking is often referred to as the “monkey mind” and can be a huge contributor to the stress we experience in our lives.
Did you know that stress is the basic cause of 60% of all human illness and disease? 44% of stressed people lose sleep every night and a loss of sleep and sleep deprivation contributes to being deficient in performing simple daily tasks, among other ailments.
When the world doesn’t feel like it’s slowing down anytime soon, how do we address the spinning thoughts and stress created from our monkey minds each day?
We can do this as easily as slowing the breath, connecting with our core self and becoming mindful in every situation. According to findings published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the practice of mindfulness and meditation can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain.
Similar to a ceiling fan turning overhead, our thinking mind is spinning all the time. At this fast-paced speed, one would never consider poking their fingers through the turning blades of the fan in the same way the truth of who we are is unable to pierce the rapidly churning thoughts of our mind. With the constant generation of thoughts, the truth of us, the loving compassion and essential self, never gets to rise up beyond our thinking mind.
To allow this true essential part of ourselves to express itself, we need to learn to slow the rapidly spinning thoughts of the mind. When we slow the mind, it begins to move in rhythm with this true essence of who we are. From here we can actually move beyond the thinking mind to experience a greater version of who we truly are.
Slowing the Breath is Slowing the Mind
To slow the mind, we first need to pay attention to our breathing. When we breathe more slowly and deeply into the body, the thinking mind begins to respond in accordance to that. The body is operating at a much slower frequency than the mind, so breathing into the belly this way as we bring our mind’s attention to the body, we slow the mind automatically, getting it into the same rate and rhythm of our true nature. When we do this, we bring our energy from our head down into the heart space, the wisdom space, or the place within each of us where our truth resides.
Whenever you are experiencing a busy day and your mind is spinning like that turbulent ceiling fan, bring your attention into your core and breathe deeply into your belly. Slow your breath way down so that you begin to slow the mind down, dropping it into a deeper sense of presence.
Technique to Get Back in Your Center
From this place, begin squeezing the tissues in the core of your body, from the deep abdominal areas to your heart space, getting the attention of your mind. Tighten the muscles at the base of the pelvic bowl, known as “Mula Bandha,” which is a Sanskrit term for ‘root lock.’ It means locking the consciousness down into the body, instead in the head where we tend to live.
The best way to do this is to contract these muscles to anchor yourself in the present moment. With everything squeezed tightly, take a big breath down in the belly to create a resistance the mind can sense and feel. This is how the mind begins to attain the awareness of self, or a sense of groundedness and anchoredness, which continues to slow the mind as well.
As you’re contracting the core of the body, breathing into the belly and up and down the spine, infuse your breath with the simple thought that, “All is well.” Remind yourself there has been a wave of grace carrying you through all of your life which has brought you to this very moment. You’ve made it through all the things you’d never thought you would make it through because you were carried on this wave of grace every step of the way. Even when the going got rough, you got through.
Simply by bringing the mind to this idea that there’s a wave of grace flowing through your life as you bring your attention to the body and slow your breath, you can catch that wave. When you do, you can finally sense and perceive that all is taken care of, and your mind can finally begin to settle.
When your mind settles and comes under your command and control, this is when the true essence of your being, your Essential Self, gets to have a mind, one that it has more direction over, rather than the mind running out of control and affecting your life experience.
Other Tips for Taming the Mind
If you tend to learn from an auditory standpoint more easily, then repeating a mantra is also good for your nervous system to help you calm down or tame a rapidly spinning mind. Repeating a phrase over and over, even something as simple as, “All is well, all is well,” or “I’m okay,” can help to slow the mind. You can also use traditional Eastern culture’s Sanskrit terms such as “Sat Nam, Sat Nam, Sat Nam,” or “Om.” Or, simply allow a deep slow breath to be heard as you are breathing in and out, a calming sigh of relief repeated over and over a few times. Saying something internally doesn’t have to be audible in the outer world, but repeating these sounds inside your own mind and heart will slow that ‘monkey mind’ down.
Follow the Breath:
If you’re a kinesthetic learner, it might be more helpful for you to pay attention and follow the breath. As you breath in, follow the breath all the way down to the lower lobes of your lungs and then exhale back up and out your nose, then inhale through the nose and allow that breath to come deep into the body.
If you are a visual learner, light a candle or simply roll a pen on your desk. You can also focus on a single point, such as the corner of your keyboard or an image on the wall. Not looking at anything else, not allowing yourself to be distracted, simply focus the mind to steady itself, allowing every bit of your conscious concentration to focus on the pen, the corner of the keyboard, or any object you’ve chosen. Doing this slows the mind down, keeping it from acting like a runaway train.
Dr. Sue Morter from Morter Institute bridges science, spirit and human possibility.
For over 30 years, she has been teaching health care practitioners, patients and students integrative approaches to wellness, based in quantum science and energy medicine.