By Lili Gordon
You can see Lili every Tuesday night 630pm for Breath Work & Slow Flow in studio or Zoom at Yoga On York or visit her website https://www.liligordon.com/
It happens to all of us. Here I am, getting myself ready to write about quieting your mind, and I can't shut my own off! I've caught myself at stress o'clock, with it running wild. If my mind had a face, it would give me a despicable grin and a side look saying: "I got you again! Same thing every day, and you still fall for it! That's my jam- so much overthinking to do (insert evil laughter)."
I feel overwhelmed and apprehensively anxious, BUT I know: this madness is not unstoppable - even when it seems so. And so I've decided there's probably no better moment than when I, too am struggling, for us to work through quieting our minds together (because the place we will find ourselves on the other side is worth the little bit of effort the journey there will be.)
You only need a few minutes a day.
The body loves structure and routine! The mind loves adventure, and not always the type of adventure that creates happy and healthy memories for us. Instead, the kind that leaves us trapped inside a hamster wheel, running and running some more - long after we've lost sight of the prize because nothing is ever enough. Overthinking, being overwhelmed, and stressed out adventure, anyone? YES PLEASE, says no one ever! It is certainly not my type of chosen adventure. Yet, if I'm honest with myself, I catch my mind running on that darn wheel at least once a day. And you most likely do, too: all of a sudden, you notice your mind is in overactive mode- and you realize you are feeling anxious, overthinking, you're stressing out, reliving the past, and you're worried about the future. Maybe not all of those simultaneously, but one can do the damage. It can make you feel ungrounded and disconnected from the present moment immediately, and it can feel as though it's just undone any good progress you've found yourself making as of late. Call it the cruise control of your mind, time to deactivate it. Let's halt that option so that you can say "See you later" to those moments that fill you with doubt, nerves, angst, and fear. Instead, replace moments of uncertainty with a well-traveled alternative route (not that the alternative one is certain, but there is a bit more sanity and nurture of the mental health).
Something helpful you can do is to set time aside and create your moments of awareness. A mindful time that I like to call ANCHOR moments - for a few minutes throughout your day, you want to pause, reconnect to your body, and check in with yourself. Focus on your breath and how your body feels with each inhale and exhale. Set an alarm throughout the day for a few minutes only, find a quiet place where you can be with yourself:
Close your eyes and press your feet against the ground.
Place a hand on your belly and one on your heart (I like to put my hands on my sides where my rib cage is)
Feel the rise and the fall of your body as you breathe.
Notice your breath. What is the quality of it? Is it shallow or deep? Is it rushed or calm? What does this tell you?
Deepen it! Feel where you hold the stress and how your body softens on each exhalation.
Your breath is your anchor!
If this doesn't help at the moment, put on a song that you love and start jamming on it. Whether it is as if no one is watching or everyone is staring awkwardly, what's more important is to close your eyes, feel the beat, and sing out loud. You can't think negatively while singing from the top of your lungs. Then try the breath thing from option A.
Doing this for a few minutes only, a couple of times a day, helps you unhook the mind and get back into the body as if you press the reset button.
It can start this simple! You can do this. I will be doing this, and we can do this together (especially the singing)! Sometimes, it takes just a few minutes of being, not rushing, not analyzing, not trying, just being. Just be with yourself, and you will learn to touch the present moment, come back to it with a sound, softer mind.