Quieting the Mind: Some Quick Tips for Time Alone with your Head

I do a lot of thinking about – and teaching my clients about – the ways our minds can cause problems. There is no question that your negative thoughts, “inner bullies,” or simply the endless chatter in your own mind can send you to dark places. Those dark places can then send you running straight into the claws of your addiction.

I once had a client explain to me, “I can’t be alone with my own head! Within five minutes I can get depressed. I could be sitting on a beach in the sun, cool breeze on my skin, loved ones all around me, but if I get inside my head I will imagine everything going horribly wrong in my life, or start thinking about a million things I can’t control. I can end up in tears or so anxious I can hardly stand it!”

But as busy and hectic as your life may be, there is no doubt that there will be times when you are left alone with your own mind (laying down in bed at night is one of those times – as any insomniac can tell you). You must find a way to quiet your mind – especially when it is up to no good. Mindfulness and meditation are helpful here. When you catch yourself daydreaming or letting your thoughts run wild try these simple solutions:

–          Pause, breathe, and ground yourself in the present moment.

–          See each thought as if it is appearing in a cartoon bubble, floating gently away like a cloud one at a time.

–          Recall that your thoughts are just thoughts: you do not need to act on them or even attend to them.

–          Bring your full attention to your breath; feel how your breathing becomes slower and more even. Soon your mind will begin to slow as well.

Of course, these are just beginning suggestions. (There are many books available, including ours, which include exercise for mindfulness and meditation). Meditation takes practice, like any skill. But you may find some rapid and wonderful results by trying the techniques above and before you know it, you will be embracing those quiet moments alone with your own mind!

– Julie Kraft