The Mind Has No “Off” Switch
At any given time, my mind is typically spinning with dozens of ideas and thoughts. It starts the moment I wake up. It’s almost impossible to shut off.
During my morning workout and meditation practice the pace sometimes slows down. But at most other times I live with a constant whirling of activity in the mind.
In any given moment I feel the compulsion to capture it all, to get it out of my brain and onto paper, where I can perhaps make sense of it.
Rarely does this help.
The spinning mind tends to spin most when I’m feeling the pressure of “too much to do.”
That feeling of I have so many things to do I don’t know where to start is how I feel on most days. So when things really ramp up, it can send my nervous system into a state of chaos.
Slowing Down a Spinning Mind
When I feel the mind start to shift into a higher gear, I know I need to take charge.
Full disclosure: there are times when I don’t intercept early enough, where my mind races away from me before I can catch it with this intervention.
Before I sit down to write, I lay on the floor. I put my hands on my rib cage and belly and I breathe into my hands and my body.
I slow it down.
At first, it seems like my mind spins faster. I hear all the thoughts. I hear my inner monologue dictate articles and emails.
And then it all goes away.
I re-enter my body. I find presence.
I hear nothing.
The Fear in Creating Space
This silence of the mind is the fear that keeps us from creating space.
It is the thing we most want and what we are most afraid of.
My compulsion to capture the thoughts and ideas as they come — to record every morsel, to send my notes to Evernote, or put them in a notebook — is rooted in a fear that I won’t get them back. I will lose the good ideas.
So I keep churning in my mind in order to keep my ideas with me until I can clear them out. But then I get trapped in the spinning mind.
I perpetuate the pain of the spinning mind to avoid the pain of losing my ideas. And the challenge I face is that I never reach the limit of my ideas and thoughts. Ideas birth ideas. Thoughts generate thoughts.
The mind machine has no limits.
Finding Another Source
If the mind is constantly chattering, it has no space to take in new information. When I’m trapped in the spin cycle, I’m not open to the new ideas that are trying to come through.
In ancient times humans raced around only if they were in danger. The mind and body interpret “hustle” as fight-or-flight.
I must be willing to quiet the mind and allow the inspiration and ideas to come from another source.
That source is the heart.
When my mind is racing ahead and my body is reacting in fear because I’m caught in the hustle of life, my heart is closed to wisdom.
If I’m constantly in my head, constantly in the hustle, my heart cannot connect to spirit and source.
Open Minded and Open Hearted
We often talk about being “open minded” to new ideas. But we can’t be open minded when the mind is spinning in thoughts.
And “open minded” is only part of the battle. Wisdom comes through the heart and body, not through the mind. To absorb wisdom, we must be “open hearted.”
So this is what I’m trying right now. When I feel the urge to capture all the thoughts before they disappear, I close my eyes and breathe. I keep breathing until the thoughts settle and dissipate. As I breathe, I open my heart and my body. I create a bigger container to hold the vastness of my ideas. I open myself to receive what I need.
And I trust.
Because that’s what an open heart does.