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Rest for a Busy Mind

by Rachael Millsom (follow)
SELF: Meditation, Mindfulness,Counselling and Retreats. Rachael.millsom@gmail.com www.s-e-l-f.com.au Facebook.com\RachaelatSELF
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Walking is great for the Mind

I can't seem to stop my thoughts from going round and round.......

It is important to remember that a busy mind is our default state. We are programmed to problem solve, analyse, plan, try out difference scenarios, wander what if.......

And yet in the busy world we live in there is no stopping, and our minds need a rest, they need time out. I imagine 100 years ago many more people had activities in their lives that grounded them, that gave their minds a rest. These activities might have been gardening, walking more (instead of driving). These activities are still great and I highly recommend 'gardening therapy, or walking therapy".

Today our expectations of what we can achieve in one day are high and many people (especially the main home care provider or your home) have many different compartments in their lives and want to do well in all. Consequently there many not be as much time for gardening or long walks and yet our busy minds still need that rest.

Why do our minds need a rest from busyness.
When your head is in a swirl or all the different things going on in your life it tends to mean that your body doesn't feel like it gets a rest either, it might be sitting at a desk but your body gets caught up in all that thinking too.

When you have lots running through your head it can be difficult to focus on the task at hand and hence you have a lower productivity.

And of course it effects your sleep.

What happens when you practice mindfulness
When you are mindful you are paying attention. When you pay attention the other parts of you slow down, your peripheral vision may be reduced, your body movements are reduced or more deliberate (e.g. you don't wiggle and jiggle as much). When you are paying attention you are focused on something in particular. When you pay attention your thoughts are not in their default busy mode (thinking about the past or the future), thoughts are different - they may seem to come from a different place (your watching self), they are about the current experience, your senses.

When you pay attention, when you are in the present moment you will feel calmer (unless you are in the jungle and there is a tiger, then your present moment experience will be run for your life:-)). From this calm space you can more easily see things as they are, you can experience greater clarity.

Try it now.
Simply be aware of your feet on the ground, notice where your feet contact your shoes or the floor and where there are spaces and your feet do not touch the floor or your shoe. Notice the temperature of your feet and the temperature of your feet in relation to your shoe or the floor. be aware of the weight of your body pressing into your feet.

You have just practiced a simple mindfulness exercise, notice how you feel. Most people feel calmer and more grounded after this simple exercise. It could make a big difference to your life if you simply noticed your feet on the floor a few times a day.

So what about those circular thoughts?
So you have started to practice mindfulness meditation (a practice where you focus on your breath, notice when your mind wanders and bring it back to your breath) and you can't seem to get through the circular thoughts, the busy mind.

One thing that helps many people is to name the thought as, planning, problem solving, daydreaming, what if thoughts. Let's say you are thinking about what you need to buy from the shops as you are planning your dinner. Note this as a planning thought, tell yourself that you are not planning now and return your awareness to your breath.

The catch
Your mind is onto you, if you don't allow other time in your day to plan, to problem solve, to work through an issue you are having..... it is going to take that time when you sit down to meditate.
However if your mind knows that you:
keep a to do list that you add to all the time;
give yourself time to work through issues, be that by journaling or talking to a friend, counsellor or simply sitting with any discomfort
make the time to problem solve.
Then your mind, with practice, will allow that 'stuff' to wait. It won't be there as much anyway because you are on top of it already.

Start today.
It doesn't take much to have a noticeable benefit in your life from practicing mindfulness, people report handling stressors with more ease, feeling more clarity and calm in their day to day experience. Sounds pretty good for 10 minutes a day :-)

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