Q. My mind keeps racing, I feel overwhelmed, unproductive
This is the trick that the mind tends to play with endless chatter about how we should always be in a state of “doing” and, alternatively, with doomsday scenarios
Newsflash - we are our most productive with an uncluttered, quiet mind.
So what do we do then? It’s easier said than done to quieten the mind.
Mindfulness is constantly observing thoughts to separate the mental chatter from the actual situation. For eg, the hardship brought on by covid could be the fact, and the doomsday scenario we conjure up, the commentary aka chatter. By observing and separating the two we can actually be in the now, our most uncluttered and productive space.
Notwithstanding an attempt to constantly notice and observe, and due to our lack of trust in the above actually helping us to get to inner silence, we get reactive and frustrated.
When this happens, 5 things help.
1. Vigorous exercise - a brisk walk or run. This brings on endorphins which are natural analgesics since they activate the opiate receptors in the brain. They ease feelings of discomfort that are triggered by an agitated mind.
2. Another helpful technique, when the mind is running amok, is to bring attention to the breath and to take a few quiet long deep breaths. This helps break the downward trajectory of the spiralling thoughts.
3. A third is giving ourselves permission to completely relax the body - by sitting on a comfortable couch or seat, or even lying down and allowing ourselves to doze off.
4. A fourth - when we feel overwhelmed by our thoughts is to make a hot cup of tea and then slowly and mindfully take sips of it.
5. And maybe best of all is a structured routine where we do all of the above and also set aside time for some meditation and yoga.
This may sound counter intuitive - but those who have the most to show for themselves have a quiet mind and those the least have busy, cluttered ones!