I recently read that, on average, we have about 60,000 thoughts each day. That’s about one thought every 1.5 seconds. Brains are crazy! When I read this I thought, ‘no wonder I feel like my mind is racing sometimes…it is. No wonder I feel scatterbrained sometimes.’
The context in which I read this was some kind of article or info-graphic about why I should start meditating today. People who meditate regularly actually have less thoughts each day…pretty cool! So why do I bring this up now?
Because I feel like I may have already had more than my daily dose of 60,000 thoughts already today.
There seems to be so much coming up, so much being thought about and planned right now, that I am having a hard time slowing the roll of thoughts and grounding myself into the present and enjoyable moments that make up each day (and letting go of the not-enjoyable ones!). Right before I thought I might OD on thoughts- about 30 minutes ago- I started thinking about what I can do to ground myself and enjoy each day more in the midst of all the planning and futur-y thinking.
Here are some things that work for me, and that I need to be doing more of:
Walking, skiing, biking..whatever it is…being outside grounds me almost immediately. In fact, when I almost ODed 10 minutes ago, I got up and went for a 15 minute walk. I feel better already! I think this works for a few reasons. Firstly, my body cannot move as fast as my brain, and using my body makes me realize this and slow down. Secondly, being outside wakes up my senses. When I feel the sun, hear the birds, and smell wood fires I am immediately pulled into the present. Which brings me to my next strategy:
Doing a sense check:
If I just don’t have the freedom to leave work for a walk when I feel the need to slow down, I can do a sense check. Like I said, something about being truly aware of my senses brings me back to the present. So, it may sound weird, but when I need to I can stop and acknowledge what I see, hear, smell, taste, and feel in any given moment.
Doing things that force me to slow down:
Namely, reading and writing. These things force my brain to slow down, focus, and be there. It works!
Trying to minimize things that force me to ‘speed up:’
Maybe I am just a crazy nut, but I once quit a job over, essentially, email. My boss looked at me like I was definitely a crazy nut when I said that I couldn’t keep up with all the emails and hated the feeling of always being ‘on call’ or needing to check my email. Really, looking back, I think this represents a larger change that happens in the brain when I am constantly looking at email. Have you ever noticed your thoughts speeding up when you look at Facebook, Pinterest, or email? I definitely have! First of all…scrolling….ewww. Secondly, all of these things seem to cause the brain to jump from thought to thought multiple times every second..as you scroll. I really don’t like this feeling sometimes, and find that when my brains feels like it’s moving too fast, it helps to close out of web browser pages I’m not using, and avoid Pinterest, Facebook, and email for a bit.
Yoga and being still:
Kind of like physical activity outside, yoga forces me to focus on my body, not my brain. When I really feel the need to slow down and focus, I warm up and work into balancing poses. This works, because if you are trying to balance and let your mind start to wander you will most likely fall. This is great ‘forced focus.’ And you may remember how I don’t like calling meditating meditating ( 🙂 ) because I think that word harbors too much Boulderyness for me, but spending time being still, breathing, acknowledging and letting go of thoughts really helps to slow the brain and ground me.
With planning ski weekends, anticipating an invitation to serve in the Peace Corps, and just trying to keep up with normal life stuff, I definitely need to be practicing these grounding strategies!
PS, for those that are wondering, I did PASS my Oral Proficiency Interview for Peace Corps, scoring two levels higher than what I needed! Yay! Hence, why I say that we are now anticipating and invitation to serve in Peace Corps 🙂