22 Jan Two Simple Steps to Quiet a Racing Mind
Whether at work, home or school, having the ability to quiet a racing mind and direct your mental energy to where it needs to be, is essential. No doubt, your average week is filled with obligations, deadlines and stress. On an ongoing basis, this can have a huge impact on your ability to focus, organize and complete tasks. These two simple steps will help you train your brain to work for you.
When you’re stressed, anxious and overwhelmed, you have actively engaged the Sympathetic Nervous System. The SNS is great when you need quick responses and sharp focus however, you don’t want to become ‘jammed’ in that state. Fortunately, you also have a Parasympathetic Nervous System. When actively engaged for the purpose of reducing stress, there is a sense of feeling calm, focused and grounded.
At this very moment, you have the ability to ‘unplug’ from the stressed SNS and plug into the peaceful PNS. This is done via Conscious Breathing:
- Turn off the electronics. Make sure you won’t be disturbed. Find a place to sit or lie down comfortably.
- Take 5 normal breaths to center yourself and bring your attention within by being aware of what your body is feeling.
- Now, breathe slowly and gently into the lower abdomen/ navel area. Slowly, gently exhale. This pattern of breathing should feel like a wave ebbing and flowing in slow motion.
- Placing your hands on your lower abdomen while doing this may help you to better focus. Relax any muscles that are tense. Do this breathing for 1-2 minutes (or longer if you wish)
This breathing technique is so effective that doing it for 2 minutes 3 x day will deliver noticeable results in a very short period of time. For a detailed explanation: Conscious Breathing
I began using this step to experience a deeper state of meditation but found it to be so effective that I now use it to instantaneously quiet my mind as well as disengage from negative thought patterns and emotional triggers. It is a profoundly effective as a tool to bring about a state of Mindfulness.
With a little practice, you’ll be able to do this anywhere, anytime and with your eyes open but when starting out, it’s best to create a quiet environment where neither people nor electronics will disturb you. You can do this lying down or seated, whatever is the most comfortable for you.
- Close your eyes and begin doing Conscious Breathing. This will activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System and set you up for success in quieting the mind.
- After you have done 2 to 3 minutes (or longer, if you wish) of gentle, relaxed Conscious Breathing shift your focus to your earlobes. Yes, you read that correctly, your earlobes! Raise your fingers to your earlobes and gently ‘tweak’ them. Don’t pinch them or cause any discomfort, simply create enough of a physical sensation so that you know they are there.
- Next, place your arms in a restful position beside you and gently focus your full attention on your earlobes or further out (your shoulders) but still at the latitude of your earlobes. Whatever is the most comfortable for you. I prefer to place my focus 3″ above my shoulders. In particular, and this is the really important part, focus on both of your earlobes/shoulders AT THE SAME TIME. Remember this is a gentle, relaxed focused attention.
- Once you’ve secured your focus, relax your attention and simply let it hover at this latitude.
- You may find that your mind wants to jump around in a restless manner. Don’t get frustrated, it’s to be expected when you’re starting out. Simply be persistent in returning your attention to focusing on both earlobes at the same time. While doing this, breathe in a gentle and relaxed manner.
- When first trying this exercise, hold your attention here for 15-30 seconds. Your goal here is the quality of your focus, not the amount of time. Extend the time as it becomes easier to maintain focus.
You’ll notice that when your full attention is at the latitude of your earlobes/shoulders, you will have disengaged from racing thoughts and your emotions will be quieter. This is very similar to moving the cursor on your computer screen to a different area and pressing click. Here, you’ve intentionally moved your attention (the cursor) to an area that is not engaged in frenetic thinking, planning and worrying (the prefrontal cortex/ your forehead area), and ‘pressed click’ i.e. told it to stay there.
The key to making long lasting changes is to take small steps that can be repeated with consistency. Create a daily practice of doing this 3 times a day. It may help to set the alarm on your electronics to remind you.
The benefits of doing these two simple steps are truly unbelievable and you’ll really have to try it to believe it! Neuroplasticity (the brain can change itself) teaches us that with this exercise you can break the habit of your mind racing down those noisy, chaotic neural pathways and train your brain to do what you want it to.
The result: your brain will be a calmer and clearer place. Additionally, not only will you be able to quiet a racing mind at will, you will also increase your ability to focus, be less stressed and feel more centered and calmer in general.
What a great feeling!
Disclaimer: The information presented here is for educational purposes only and should not, in any way, be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Be sure to consult with your health care professional before making any changes to your lifestyle.
Thank you for taking time to read this post! The right information at the right time is a most powerful catalyst for change. For Coaching, Workshops or an Inspiring Talk on this valuable topic, contact me!