Do you have an active mind? Do you feel as if it waits for you to wake in the morning and is ready to pounce with reminders, ideas, thoughts, and worries? If so, you have experienced the so-called Monkey Mind. It leaps around and is always active – and that leads to very little calmness and stillness for us.
Thankfully, there are ways we can combat this busyness that often goes on inside our heads. Mindfulness has become more popular in recent years, although it has been around for a long time. It is not always easy to adopt mindfulness, but perseverance will help you quieten that internal chatter that always wants to butt into our lives.
Let’s explore how you can use mindfulness to clear your mind and calm any chatter trying to get your attention.
TAKE TIME TO MEDITATE EACH DAY
Ah yes, meditation. Maybe you've tried it already and felt that it didn't work for you. But don’t give up on it just yet. To begin, simply find a few minutes of quiet - it can be useful to choose two or three short pauses rather than one longer one but do whatever works for you. Simply start by sitting quietly, try lighting a natural candle if you can and let your mind slowly adjust and begin to slow down. Let the thoughts of the day pass by like clouds, letting each one go while you bring your focus to your breath - feeling it move in and out of your body.
If you find it hard to quiet your mind during meditation then try creating a mantra that means something to you and repeat it with every cycle of breath. There's no pressure to sit for long periods of time, even 5 minutes can make a difference - that's how i got started and now meditation is part of my every day routine.
LEARN HOW TO LET GO OF YOUR THOUGHTS
Notice I said let go rather than stop. It is almost impossible to stop yourself thinking. It is far easier to acknowledge a thought when it comes into your mind, and to let it go. It’s almost as if you notice the thought and then let it drift past like a cloud, rather than trying to push it away.
It can be enormously helpful to visualise this. Picture each thought as it occurs to you, then let it drift past, acknowledging its presence before calmly letting it go. This is a useful trick to try throughout your day, too. Mindfulness is about remaining in the moment, rather than thinking of the past or being drawn to the future and what may happen there. Let thoughts of the past drift back there and allow thoughts or worries about the future to drift ahead into nothingness. Anchor yourself to the moment and focus on what is happening now.
BEGIN TO FOCUS ON THE MOMENT THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY
It takes time to master mindfulness. To begin with, you’ll find you can do it for short periods, perhaps only a moment or two, and then your monkey mind will butt in and begin to worry you with concerns of tomorrow, the day after, and so on. Every time this occurs, recognise it. Then send those thoughts on their way and anchor yourself to the present once again.
Like any habit, it will take time, but you will get there. When you do, you’ll gradually discover it becomes easier to quieten the internal chatter that used to occupy most of your waking thoughts.
APPRECIATE THE DETAIL AROUND YOU
This is another good way to use mindfulness to break away from that internal chattering we all experience to one degree or another. Let’s suppose you are moving home in a few weeks’ time. This is a major life event, one that will worry and concern a lot of people. Have you chosen the right property? Will you like living there? Will you miss your current home? How will you settle in? What if you don’t like the neighbours? You get the idea.
Every time you are confronted with fears, worries, and thoughts of moving, stop. Look around you. Focus on a detail – something that catches your eye and pulls you back into the present. It could be the cup of coffee you’re enjoying. It might be the pattern on the wooden floor beneath your feet. It might be an aroma – fresh bread bought from the local bakery, perhaps, waiting to be tucked into at lunchtime.
You may well find certain triggers are easier for you to appreciate than others. I’ll admit to being passionate about good food and a great cup of freshly-brewed tea. Nothing pulls me back into the present more easily than that. Finding an easy anchor like this will make it far easier for you to practise mindfulness in a helpful way.
LETTING GO OF INTERNAL CHATTER - FOR GOOD
I would love to say you’ll reduce your internal chatter within the week. Chances are it will take longer than that. But if you start practising the above suggestions now, you will probably notice small differences within a few weeks. Remember, a habit cannot be formed overnight, but the best habits are worth working for.
AUTHOR: LEANNA DOOLIN
Co – Founder of holistic skincare brand, Pure Thoughts and advocate for women finding pause in their day to breathe deeply, give thanks and reconnect to what matters. Loves early mornings, dogs and books that you can’t put down.