Mindfulness Mayhem! How To Stay Focused When Your Brain Is Cray-Cray

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Trying To Quiet That Mind Only To Have It Scream Back At You? You Are Not Alone. Here’s What To Do.

Time and time again the research has shown that the benefits of meditation can do absolute wonders for your mental health and overall being. Adopting a meditation practice can calm the stressed. Provide relief for the worried. It has even been known to bring clarity to the confused! 

But how on earth do you quiet your racing thoughts long enough to experience any sort of relief? 

First of all, it takes practice. The mind wanders!  Staying in the present moment is not an easy task when there is so much available, waiting at the ready to distract you.  Moreover, think back to learning how to do something new. Did you do it perfectly the first time? Did you have to think about every step? Did you wonder who is watching you and how incompetent you felt? Well… there you go! You must give yourself grace. Consistently engaging in the practice will bring the confidence you need to progress. 

Something you can do is choose a time when you know you are not going to be disturbed, as well as a quiet place to sit comfortably. As difficult as this may sound, it is necessary and can be exactly what is needed to be successful. If this poses an issue whatsoever, consider talking to the people who reside with you. Let them know that you are trying something new and it requires you to be undisturbed for about 15-20 minutes. Then set up some type of plan to support this. For example, when I started out, I was worried that my husband would wake up and walk out into the only space I had available (our living room). I asked him if he could please wait to step out into the living room until the lamp was turned on, a request which he had no problem granting. This agreement also required me to wake 15-20 minutes earlier. All was totally worth the effort.

Setting yourself up in a supportive way such as this allows your brain to relax. If the disruptive thought comes through and you know that you have done something to eradicate the risk then you can remind yourself of that quickly and get on with the show. Moreover, simply following up and disallowing any excuses to trickle in sends the message that this is important. Otherwise the invisible instruction here very well could be that even though you know quieting your mind is something you should do, it’s not important and therefore you’re leaving out a key element for growth. 

If you are facing resistance to a meditation process, then guess what? It’s most likely the EXACT thing you need to push forward on your evolutionary journey. That’s right!  The more resistance you experience, the more important it is that you engage in it. It’s not necessarily a good thing to “be comfortable with being uncomfortable” (otherwise you simply stay stuck in oscillation of discomfort). However, resistance only feels uncomfortable when it’s hanging out in a location where no action is being taken to move through it. When a decision is made to move through the resistance, then it’s just like shining a light in the dark. What is a mystery, is deemed unknown and therefore scary becomes known and harmless. The familiarity weakens the resistance and a new structure is formed that supports the desired reality of quieting the mind.  Please know that there is no right way or wrong way to meditate.  Simply taking steps to adopt a regular practice to experience a clear mind is more than enough to get started!

Perhaps the absolute mother of all meditation techniques when it comes to tips and tricks for quieting the mind, however, is so fundamental that it’s silly. This technique? BREATHING. 

Not sure if you have noticed or not, but when you enter into a state of nervousness or anxiety your breath gets super short and shallow. Your heart rate goes up and the blood pressure rises. You primarily breathe into only the top part of your chest, and the lungs barely expand. Using your breath to move through any sort of trauma or disturbance is not only beneficial to your person, but it’s also THE KEY ELEMENT – the BEST WAY – to calm and soothe the psyche. Being able to take deep breaths sends a number of signals throughout the brain and body telling all possible personnel that all is well in the world. This allows for the brain regions to focus on the task at hand without any fear of threat causing an ease and flow to the thoughts. 

Using your breath is super easy! While sitting in a supportive position and location, close your eyes and breathe deeply through the nose. Picture your breath moving through your back and down, down, down as low as you can picture it going. Once you have exhausted your intake, pause for a moment, and then release the breath slowly – through the nose – until the exhale is also exhausted. Continue this rhythm, and for a little extra benefit, if any physical pains arise, picture the place where the pain is and take a nice, big inhale, breathing into the place that holds the pain or discomfort, pause, and release the breath all the while thinking of the pain being released with it.  Your breath is with you wherever you go, so learning how to use it to your advantage is well worth your while.  

A non-conventional form of mindfulness meditation is using physical exercise. Entering into this type of meditation session can absolutely crush negative thoughts and produce positive change on many levels.  Physical exercise such as walking (especially in nature), tai chi, hiking, taking a long run, pilates – really any type of activity where you are moving and can let your mind wander – can work wonders to help release stressful thoughts and calm active minds.  Human beings are designed to be movers and shakers.  If you have set this type of activity as part of your daily life then double dip and allow that mind to enter into a calm mental state while exercising.  Breathing obviously plays a huge role here, as well.  For those whose minds wander and who cannot quiet their own thoughts, this way to perform the practice of meditation may work best!

Lastly, sometimes people – especially when first starting out – benefit greatly from listening to a guided meditation.  Simply tuning into someone saying something that is empowering, soothing, uplifting, and/or encouraging can have wonderful, long-lasting benefits.  There are a variety of resources available from podcasts to YouTube that are available to choose from.  Listening through at least some of the meditation prior to diving on in may be helpful to assure that you jive with the moderator’s voice as well as any noise playing in the background. 

There are various types of meditation, and your own regular meditation practice may employ different techniques.  That’s A-ok!  The first step is to adopt SOMETHING on a daily basis.  The more consistent practice you have, the more able you will be to engage in the letting go of your racing thoughts. 

If meditation is something that you would love to try, but continue to struggle with getting a regular practice up and running please let us know!  Furthermore, if you already employ a solid practice and are able to share what works for you, by all means please let us know in the comments below. 

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2 responses to “Mindfulness Mayhem! How To Stay Focused When Your Brain Is Cray-Cray”

  1. I love doing yoga nidra. Infind it very relaxing.

    1. charteredcreatist Avatar

      Excellent recommendation! Thank you.

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