If someone were brilliant enough to create a device that could hear and record ones thoughts, they would only prove that we are all a bit insane and I don’t know if that would be a good thing.
The average person has about 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day and that comes out to about 35-48 thoughts per minute.
By the time I finished those two paragraphs I have already checked my Facebook notifications twice and checked up the status of my football team’s injured star player… seriously.
The struggle is real.
You would think this wasn’t that big of an issue as long as when you need to focus on something, all of your thoughts turn focus to that one particular task but that’s where we are wrong.
Our mind works sort of like a computer.
When you start and run multiple programs on a computer, it runs them simultaneously. Even if the one you are currently on is being used, the other programs continue to run in the back ground until they are completely shut off. This causes lag in your computers performance.
Your mind works the same way.
The thousands of thoughts that run through your head throughout the day never really shut off. They just cycle through and your mind focuses on the most current thought but the others stay in the subconscious.
This is why you continue to be caught in an endless loop of thoughts all screaming for attention and the more you think, the more gets piled on. Your mind begins to slow down and operate much slower. You are giving energy to too many processes at once.
Buddha called this the “Monkey Mind”.
Just like monkeys living in the jungle, swinging from tree to tree, chattering and screaming, your mind behaves the same way. Your brain moves focus from thought to thought, most of the time in no particular order.
Add a few things that you are stressed, worried about, or just need to remember and focus on and all of the sudden your productivity and energy plummets.
At bed time it’s still going a thousand miles per hour and you lose sleep which causes you to have less energy to take on the next day, the vicious cycle begins.
Taming the Monkey Mind
We have to get intentional about taming our monkey mind before it turns into a monkey brain. 😉 There are a few things you can do to make this happen and it starts with how you begin and end your days.
Do the following 6 things daily.
1. Shut off all devices an hour prior to bedtime, dim the lights.
The last thing we all do prior to bedtime and just after we wake up is use our phones. Artificial light from any device stimulates your brain and only causes more brain activity and thinking. Things we see from emails and social media only add to what we are already thinking about from the day or what we need to do the next day. Stay off all electronic devices before bedtime.
2. Read a book, fiction or non-fiction. This takes you out of your current thought processes.
Reading always has a way of taking you to a completely different place outside of time and current location. There is no better way to stop the mind’s chatter than to listen to the thoughts of the author.
3. Sit in silence for 10-15 minutes.
Sit and put all of your focus on your breathing or heart beat and be conscious of the air going in and out of your lungs. Don’t get frustrated when thoughts come and go but continue to divert your attention onto your breathing whenever you are caught thinking again. It is in silence that we often get answers to life’s biggest questions, it does us good to shut up and listen once in a while. With practice, this will get easier, trust me!
4. DO NOT think about what is on your schedule the next day, do this an hour before bed time and then drop it.
Aside from being on my phone, the other bad habit of mine is to lay in bed and mentally walk through my entire day’s schedule. Especially if I am doing something a little more stressful the next day. It is great to visualize, but do this an hour before getting ready for bed, write it out and put any notes or reminders in your phone but then drop it out of your mind.
5. For the morning, repeat 1-4 backwards.
In the morning do steps 1-4 in reverse order. Don’t touch your phone until you have stretched, hydrated, read, and sat in silence. Nothing will get your Monkey mind fired up like emails, notifications, and text messages.
6. Throughout your day.
Yes it is much more easy to get into the habit of a morning and night routine to calm the mind but you may be asking, “What about during the day? During the day my mind is going full speed and it is hard to slow it down!”. This is 100 percent true.
During the day we usually don’t have time in our schedule to set aside an hour for peace and quiet and reading. But, if we can get into the habit of the morning and evening routines I mention above, it will be much easier for us to learn to take 2-5 minutes, once or twice throughout the day to find a quiet place and clear our thoughts. The more you practice “being in the now”, and shifting your mind’s focus inwardly to your breathing, the more you will be able to stop the “chatter” and swinging from thought to thought.
There is a better way to live!