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Calming the Restless Mind

Why is it that when you are really tired, desparate to go to bed and just sleep, you lie down, snuggle up under the covers and then……it’s like abusy mind party kicks off inside your head?!  Thought after thought after thought keep popping into your mind.  Some really important thoughts like “should I take that new job?” and some less important such as “what should I cook for dinner next Saturday?” and then there are the down right random thoughts “I wonder what it feels like to walk on the moon”.

Just when you have given yourself permission to switch off from the day, your mind starts working through all those thoughts and questions that were somewhere in the back of your mind.

That’s just what the mind does!  In fact, the same thing happens during the day (it’s just a bit more frustrating then you are trying to get to sleep!).  Many of us find that there are very few times in our day when our mind is at rest.  Mostly, it is in a state of restlessness.  Constantly active with thoughts, images, ideas, questions, memories all flowing in and out.

Sometimes it can feel like a background buzz, a bit like white noise, and we become so focused on what we are doing that those thoughts don’t intrude.  However, sometimes that flow of thoughts can feel distracting, can feel intrusive and when we get hooked by a thought we can find ourselves engaging in a dialogue about it.  That can feel great if the thought takes us into a storyline that is uplifting, positive, exciting, energising or it can make us feel pretty rubbish if it takes us somewhere that feels heavy, challenging, uncomfortable, distressing.

Either way, we are simply turning up the volume and the activity in the restless mind.  It’s like we are putting a stick in a muddy puddle and stirring up all the mud, grit and water to create a swirling, busy mess!

calm watger

What if…..you were able to treat your mind more like a gently flowing river?  Allowing all of those thoughts, images, ideas, questions, memories to flow by without jumping in and disturbing the calmness?

 

Just imagine how much better you would sleep.  How much more focused you could be during the day.  How much calmer you would feel.

Accepting that it’s not possible to switch the mind off, even when you want to sleep, can immediately reduce your stress and frustration with the restless mind.  You stop fighting with it, stop trying to interfere.  As you allow the flow of the mind to be there without feeling compelled to get invovled in it will help the mind to settle and help you to get some sleep!

Give it a try.  Sit here for a moment before you move on to the next thing you are going to do and just become aware of your breathing.  Notice the in and the outbreath.  Do that for a few breaths and then, if you notice thoughts popping into your head, allow your attention to focus on the breath once again rather than answering, analysing or debating with voice in your head.  Stick with this for as long as feels comfortable, simply breathing, noticing a thought or distraction, focusing attention on the breath and allowing the thought or distraction to move on.

Let me know how you get on and if you want to find out more about how to work with your restless mind, please get in touch or take a look at the downloads on the Free Resources page.

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