Your Busy Mind Needs Settling, Too
Time to get your body settled down for bed…
You brush your teeth, put on PJs, lower the lights, snuggle under the covers.
But doesn’t your mind need settling, too?
Since we don’t have a power-off button, our minds often keep going for longer than we’d like.
Same ol’ keyed-up mental spin
I’ve had a harder time falling asleep this last month. A new medication has been giving me a bit of restless legs.
The buzzy energy and occasional shudders are irritating. But after a twitch jars me alert, my body isn’t the problem. It’s my mind.
I get so wrapped up—anticipating jiggles, preoccupied with the sensation in my legs, deciding whether the benefits of the meds are worth the side effects—that my mind keeps me up more than the legs do.
Then I engage in a bad habit. (Do what I say, not what I do!) I pull out my phone to play a word or card game, thinking it’ll distract me or soothe my mind. And works for moments, on and off.
But while I consider the next move, I notice the same old thoughts, irritation, and worries. And when I finally say “enough of this stupid game,” I’m in the exact same keyed-up mental spot as when I started.
Ways to help the mind power-down
Now, instead of expecting my mind will wind down on its own, I purposefully quiet it.
Here are some tools that help myself, clients, and students guide the mind to rest:
Read something soothing: When you read, your conscious mind gets a little hypnotized by the images and stories in your book. That helps it stop creating stories and problems that rev up your body.
Relax your eyes: Your eyes move and track your thoughts. But I’ve discovered that when your eyes deeply rest, especially rolling back or down, thoughts tend to fade. I believe it changes your brain waves (I hope some researchers will eventually confirm my theory). Meanwhile, let your eyes gently “look at your navel” and see if it eases the intensity of your thoughts.
Play a mental game: Games give your mind a non-personal problem to solve, so your body can relax.
For instance, list all the plants, trees, celebrities, electronics brands (etc.) you can think of starting with A, then continue along the alphabet. Or come up with colors in the red, yellow, green, blue, black, and white families (like beige, tan, cream, ecru). Or if you like numbers, count backwards from 2906 by 17.
What’s your favorite way to soothe your mind? I suggest you write it down and put it near your bed, as a reminder.
When your mind gets illogical—a good thing
If your mind stops making as much sense, you know you’re on the right path. Maybe your teacher from 4th grade pops into your kitchen, or you have background images of skiing when you remember your shopping list.
An illogical mind isn’t in charge in the same way, so your body lets go, as do emotions and sense of self. Soon you’re slipping away into rest and welcoming the gift of sleep.
Thank you, mind, for all you do….
…now it’s time to say goodnight, to be active another day.