Do you sometimes struggle to sleep because your brain is going nineteen to the dozen? Or are you finding it difficult to meditate, even though you know it could help you, because you just can’t stop thinking?
Maybe you’ve had a busy day and every moment you’ve either been working, talking to people, reading, listening to the radio, playing sport, socialising or even just watching TV. With this constant stream of information being uploaded by your brain moment by moment, how can it possibly process everything before it gets stuffed away with everything else?
Unfortunately we are so used to living in this hectic way; we don’t even recognise that this in itself creates hidden stresses. We’re all told that mindfulness meditation and taking time out for ourselves is really important for our self-care and to allow our brains to process everything and ‘defuse’. In fact when you do take this advice you’ll be amazed by what insights you gain and how often any problems you might have are answered, once the conscious mental clutter is cleared.
Using the analogy of a computer might help you see what we are doing to our brains with this constant ‘doing’. Any computer’s hard drive activity will slow down if there are lots of programmes opened and you are trying to use these alongside each other. Close down some of the programmes and the computer will process any requests much more easily. Also defragging the computer provides time out from the constant information overload so the hard drive can reorganise, process everything and work more efficiently.
So, how can you defrag your own hard drive (unconscious brain) so you can deal with the mental clutter that is stopping you from sleeping, meditating or even just living less frantically? Firstly take some time aside without any distraction at all, even if this is just for 10 – 15 minutes a day, then try this technique before bed, before meditating or even just for a quick defuse.
Defrag your brain
1) Sit down in a quiet room where you will be undisturbed for 10 – 15 minutes and where you feel comfortable and warm.
2) Take a pen and paper and start jotting down any words and phrases that come to mind. Just scribble them down, quickly moving on to the next one following your thoughts wherever they take you. This isn’t about exploring anything or offloading your feelings, just allowing your brain to offload words and phrases onto paper as they come into your mind until your brain feels less cluttered. Some of the things you have written down might end up on a ‘to do’ list, but you have them on paper now, so you don’t need to try and remember them anymore.
3) When you have calmed down all your conscious thoughts and are having to pause to think of things, put the pen and paper down and sit comfortably, or if you are using this to help you go to sleep, then lie down.
4) Take 3 or 4 slow, deep breaths to allow your body to recognise that you are now relaxing. As you do this, focus inwardly and note whether you have any sign of tension or emotion, maybe in your throat, chest or abdomen. Allow this to be there for a moment or two as you observe it. You can even imagine it being a swirling mass of thick black smoke inside you.
5) Continue to take slow, deep breaths in through your nose, but now as you breath out, sigh the breath out deeply and even harshly, if it feels right, while imagining the black swirling smoke flowing out and dispersing into the atmosphere. Do this for a few minutes, or until you feel there is no more smoke left inside and you feel calm. Doing this slowly will mean that you shouldn’t get dizzy from the deep breaths.
6) Breath however you feel comfortable and imagine you are surrounded by a peaceful, uplifting energy which completely surrounds you and is absorbed into every cell in your body. This energy goes on and on as far as you can see and you are just a small part of it. During this stage you can repeatedly say to yourself, “I deactivate my emotional charge.”
7) You can either finish here, continue into a meditation or go to sleep. For a quick start guide to mindfulness meditation, go to the blog article on this subject.