One of the questions we get asked most when it comes to mindfulness and meditation is: “But how do I stop my noisy mind?”
On the days when I wake up with lots of mental chatter in my mind, going around in my head, I find that my movements are also full of the mood of the chatter. My body might feel tense or slow, there might be a heaviness or an agitation there, and my heart feels heavy or burdened. I often notice as well that my shoulders rise up, and there’s a fogginess in my mind that stops me concentrating.
On these days, I find that I need to really remember my body. I need to return to it. I find that if I intentionally bring my attention into the body, into the soles of the feet through the connection with the ground, if I really feel into my sit bones, and breathe into the shoulders, then I begin to be less entangled with my mental chatter.
It’s as if I can gather my thoughts back from the past or the future and just let myself rest here. Simply resting here, in this body that I’ve remembered.
I pause my time travelling into the past or future, I pause my anxious thoughts, I pause my thoughts of planning or organising all of my “doing”, and I rest back. I rest back into this familiar body, that I’ve forgotten.
So, on the days when the mental chatter takes over, I can remember my body and watch the thoughts pass. Just watch them pass by, as if watching the clouds in the sky. And I can support myself to do this by paying attention to my own breathing.
Letting the breath be the bridge from the busy mind to the still body.
How do I do that? I find the movement of my own breathing and I follow my “in” breath, and then I follow my “out” breath. I imagine the breath entering my body through the soles of my feet and washing through the whole body, every part of the body, wakening it up, refreshing it, and then breathing out as if through the top of the head.
After I’ve done this a few times I begin to release my hold, my grasping on the chatter, on the thoughts, on the stories that are going round and round, often in circles. And I get some perspective. I get a little bit of a break from the mental chatter. I feel more in charge of myself and I have a better sense of myself as I begin my day.
I hope that helps. If it resonates with you, here’s a guided meditation for settling on the breath, from my colleague at The Heart Movement, Susie Hooper.