I'm sure you will recognise what I mean what I talk about the chattering mind. Some days you wake up and your mind is cluttered up with non-stop chatter: what you did yesterday, who said what to you, who hurt your feelings, what you have to do today, what might go wrong if you don't complete a task, how little time you have, an argument you had with your partner days ago, etc, etc. Sometimes this starts at 4am and makes it impossible to go back to sleep. Sometimes you desperately want some peace. Earth wisdom teachings tell us that humans function with an inner mind and an outer mind. The inner mind is akin to your soul, your higher consciousness, usually accessed initially in meditative states; while the outer mind is the analytical, organisational brain. It is this part of the mind that engages in ceaseless chatter and worrying, but don't think of it as all bad, we certainly wouldn't be able to function in modern society without it; sometimes we just need a break. Here are five tips to quieten the outer mind and find stillness and peace by seeing and being in the inner mind:
Focus on your breath. This is a classic technique practised the world over and of course extremely well-known in yoga, but it really does work. Focusing on your breath allows you to slow down the outer mind and find stillness. Begin by putting your attention on your in-breath and imagine you are breathing in a beautiful golden energy, cleansing and energising you. Feel it tingling through your mind and your whole body, from the top of your head, to your toes, fizzing like champagne bubbles on your skin, eventually allowing it to sink down into the earth. On your out-breath imagine all tensions and negativity slipping away, leaving your body and mind so you feel light and energised and ready to face the day ahead.
Turn your attention to nature and be present. Being present in the here and now is the key to getting out of your head. A good way to do this is to really witness, sense and absorb the nature around you. Even if you don't have a park or the countryside outside your door, a pot plant will do. Focus on the leaves and the flowers, really sensing everything about them: colour, texture, smell. If you are outside, look at the leaves on the trees, the bark, the grass underfoot. What colour are the leaves? What can you smell? If you are near a river, lake or the sea, how is the water moving today? Can you hear any birds? If so, tune into the birdsong until you start to notice the gaps in-between. Allow time for this. Be still. Being present in your natural environment is an important technique to help still your outer mind and tune into your inner mind.
Slow down and make a list. If, like me, your brain is constantly thinking about what you have to do next, or what tasks need completing, or who you need to message or call later, take a moment to write it down in list form. That way your brain isn't struggling to remember and you can let the mental 'to do list' go, knowing the tasks on it won't be forgotten.
"Every day, once a day, give yourself a present" (Dale Cooper, Twin Peaks). I'm a strong believer in this one. If your brain chatter is causing you anxiety and stress, take a break and allow yourself some time to do something you enjoy. State your intention beforehand and set a vague time for the activity so that your organisational brain doesn't start panicking about wasting time. For example, say to yourself "I'm going to allow myself 30 minutes right now to read a book", or watch Netflix, or take a bath, or go for a walk outside. Doing something pleasant will interrupt the flow of chatter and give your mind a much-needed reset.
Change location and move your body. Get up walk around, or do some yoga, or stretching, or even a dance in the kitchen. Go for a walk outside. Like the previous tip, this will reset your mind and interrupt the incessant chatter, allowing you to be present in the moment.