How to calm a racing mind.
You know what happens. You’re worried about something and then you start overthinking, thinking through every bad thing that might happen and before you know it you’re lying in bed trying to sleep but your mind is racing with thoughts and you just want it to stop. How do you do it?
Well several years ago I learned a really wonderful exercise from Eckhart Tolle. And it changed everything for me..
And it’s very simple. Let’s suppose you’re lying in bed, trying to get to sleep. Now whether you believe it or not, you are in control of the attention you give your own thoughts. And you can choose to take your attention away from your own thinking. When your mind is racing, with ‘did I do that right and why did that happen and what if this happens and how am I gonna get through that next thing’, particularly at a time when its unhelpful to you like at bedtime or before an event you’re anxious about, say a work presentation, it can be a really good idea to practice removing your attention from your thinking. And the way you do it sounds a little hippy dippy, but it works, is by very simply asking yourself ‘Can I feel the energy in my hands right now? Can I feel that without touching anything that there is a natural energy radiating through my hands? And after a little time most people will feel the life energy in their hands, they’ll feel a tingling, an aliveness. You can test it now if you want? Just stop and ask yourself ‘can I feel the energy pulsing in my hands?” And already the attention has come away from the thoughts and this is a huge first step to slowing down our thinking. And the thoughts slow down simply because they no longer have our complete attention. You stop focussing on ‘oh but what if that happens and then this happens and that thing I really don’t wanna happen happens’…And you just focus on that amazing feeling of energy in your hands. Because unless you’re not alive, it’s there. And then you incorporate the rest of the body ‘Can I feel the energy in my feet right now, in my legs, arms, neck? Etc. And pay attention to that feeling. When your mind is racing and it feels out of control, Trying to get yourself to just think about something else won’t work, because the mind has such thrust and momentum, you can’t possibly stop it but, you can divert attention away from it by focussing on a feeling or a word or a sound. In this case we’re focussing on a feeling. But equally you can do it with a word or a sound – that’s why listening to music can be so powerful in changing your state. Because you’re giving the mind an anchor to be present. And as long as you give the mind an anchor for presence because that’s what it needs, you can calm the mind right down. That is within your control. Even if everything you’ve heard up until now says the opposite. And the inner body, inside of us, is the best place to find your anchor. It can quickly turn what was an unpleasant sleepless night into a really pleasant and soothing experience of observing the aliveness and energy in your body.
Above all else remember this, you are not your thoughts. Don’t ever believe your own thoughts, that’s one of the most unhelpful things human beings do.
I hope this was helpful. Let me know in the comments below. What do you do when your mind is racing? Let’s help each other with solutions. I’ve just given one exercise but there are so many and I’ll continue to post content on this theme because I’ve suffered with a racing mind for years & I know how annoying it is. I also know many things that work for me and I hope will work for you to please share this with a friend and be sure to sign up to my weekly Mindhealth Minutes newsletter. Until next time, let’s keep getting your mind fitter, healthier and happier with The Mindhealth Coach.