How to quiet your brain

Does this look familiar to you?

You wake up. You stumble to the batroom, brush your teeth, get dressed, gulp down some coffee, head to work, answer emails, answer phone calls, answer questions, sit down in meetings while thinking about the shopping list for the evening, drive home, clean up, cook, eat, wash, go to bed. And worry about the next day. And the next after that.

Am I the only one who can’t quiet down the chatter in my brain?

I tell myself too often “I should stop and focus. I should meditate more often. I should just stand in the sun and drink my coffee outside each morning.”

And yes, I started to do that.

Do you know how long it takes me to stand in the sun and drink my coffee in the morning?

Between 30 seconds and one minute.

And if I try to meditate, what goes on is similar to this:

So, how do you stop the chatter in your brain?

I think this is a generation disease.

We get so worked up, so used to doing something, all the time, that we can’t stop anymore.
Slowing down is considered a disgrace.

Anyway, since I’m on the working side of the barricade now, and can’t claim to have found any ground-breaking tips & tricks, here are some things I’m experimenting with:

1. Monotone sounds

I’ve been having trouble sleeping for a few months now (I know, that’s too soft to be called insomnia).
And recently I’ve been starting to use this app, which can also be set to play while at work…or pretty much anywhere.  I suppose I Phone users can also find something similar.

The principle is – white noise, ocean waves, regular drum rhythm – focusing on a regular and monotone sound can help the brain relax.

2. Visualisation.

Did you ever try to say to yourself “I’m not going to think about anything now. Not think, not think….I wonder if I’m thinking that I shouldn’t be thinking, does this count as thinking?”

And then your thought process ends up like a ball of messy strings.

The trick is to focus the mind on one thing, not to let it wander. I use visualisation of a drop of water. Or focusing on my breath. Or a white dot on a black canvas.

3. Stillness.

There’s a Yoga exercise that’s recommended to be used just before you go to bed.

Sadly, you can’t really use it in your office if you want to relax.

You’re supposed to be lying on the floor, face up, palms upward, and then focus your attention to one part of your body at the time. After you acknowledge your feet, you relax them, and move to the lower part of your legs. And so on.

4. Light and Dark.

I find that gradually decreasing the light as I prepare for bed helps me unwind. Also, if I’m at work and I lower the light a bit, I give my brain the signal to slow down, and ironically enough, work better. I work very well on rainy days and ever since highschool preferred to have a dark room with only a single light, to study. Probably that’s why, darker rooms start my “cozy but focused” mindset.

I wouldn’t recommend dimming the light if you’re tired, however…it might only make you feel more sleepy.

5. Letting go

This is something I didn’t get the hang of, yet. I think most of us people with brain chatter issues tend to have a tendency to over worry.

Hence, we are unable to just let things go and accept the flow.

Even when I can’t sleep, and feel the first signs of dream state approaching, I think to myself “Oh! I’m finally falling asleep!” and ironically enough, this gets me active again, and sleep goes away. Isn’t it annoying?

I know, it’s so easy to say “Just let it go. Stop wanting to control it. Whatever will be, will be.”

Perhaps someone out there could open my head, put this button in there, and help me turn it off.

Until then, I leave you with the following useful links of wiser people:

http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/04/resilience_for_the_rest_of_us.html

http://www.instigatorblog.com/how-to-turn-off-your-brain/2006/10/23/

http://www.anxietyrecovery.com/tips.htm

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Comments

comments

2 Comments
  • Levi Manali
    May 19, 2012

    To help you out, imagination plays a big role, once you break that big theory of what’s real & what’s not your focus moves to different things you never thought could happen cuz you tell your self, should I stress over a bill or focus on flying? Which one catches your focus?

  • Maria
    May 20, 2012

    Well, most people stress over a bill. Why is that so easy? Probably because we tend to see only what’s right in front of our eyes and don’t always take the time to look in the distance.

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