In today’s world it is easy to become anxious, to have a mind which has multiple conversations at once, thoughts that are distracting and at times negative, which draw us down in mood, make us anxious and have no good effect on us. We know this because we hear these issues in our office every day. This is also the human experience and this accelerates each year, with more technology, more stress from work and home and from our little minds. It is not easy to ignore that “cocktail party in my mind” as one friend called it, or that “monkey mind” as others have aptly named it. And so quieting the mind is a goal all of us want. There are many techniques we can do for ourselves, some are as simple as breathing, others involve balancing our lives so our minds become more quiet quite naturally. This essay is going to talk about one of the techniques I’ve found quite effective. It’s a simple exercise that I do daily and teach daily to my patients when anxiety or stress comes up in conversation.
Breathing. Hmmmm, yes we do this every day thousands of times. Mostly it’s automatic, controlled by our brainstems (thankfully we don’t have to think about it). So we can pay attention to our breathing, deliberately slowing the breath, breathing like babies with our stomachs or diaphragms which causes us to focus somewhere other than on that conversation going on in our minds.
I’ve explored every major religion and found some form of breathing in each one. Even if we don’t follow any religious belief, however, listening to our breath, and focusing on our inhale and exhale, holding it for a few seconds in between, will calm the mind. SO…. I count, inhale to the count of 4, hold for two, exhale for 4, and repeat for at least 10 minutes but sometimes for an hour. And during this time, I switch from counting to a sound, a mantra as some call it, or a word that is meaningful. It could be a word like love, a name like God, a thank you, an expression of gratitude.. All this will bring us to Quiet, that place in the midst of the storm of life where we can go daily and go to especially when our minds are overactive and not helping us function. Contact us if you need more information.
Dr. Greg Gelburd