Too much thinking can be toxic .. especially when our thinking is just a spinning wheel of negative and emotionally charged noise. In fact it is the emotional charge behind most of our thinking that stirs us up .. tests our patience, increases our agitation and makes us more frustrated than we need to be.
We could be enjoying a day off with a friend, but in our mind we have allowed ourselves to get caught up with work worries or family concerns; constant prodding that destabilises our sense of self and floods us with anxiety. These thoughts not necessarily bad .. but when we are overrun with constant negative chatter we stop ourselves from truly relaxing and enjoying the moment.
This type of never ending busyness-of-mind can also becomes a nasty habit. We feel we are not 'performing' unless we are constantly juggling, reminding, planning and ruminating .. we keep touching base with all the many thoughts that cross our mind and this inflated sense of urgency leaves us feeling edgy and anxious.
It is the 'fight and flight response' (the one that protects us from the pack of hungry wolves .. only I've never actually seen the wolf) that sends a flood of adrenaline and cortisol into our system .. further encouraging our nerves to buzz and our to heart race. Over time this constant cycle of stress will weakens our immune systems and increasingly wears us down (physically and mentally).
Living on 'red alert' can also means that we tend to over react to the simplest of challenges, our tired and overstimulated brain can't focus quite as well as we need and we get irritated quickly, make poor decisions, and miss the beauty and what is actually happening in the moment.
"IT CAN WAIT"
I read a wonderful article once from Wildmind Buddhist Meditation (www.wildmind.org) which suggested a
new mantra for the 21st century :
"It can wait"
Over the last few weeks I have been extraordinarily busy, and there have been (many) times when I felt like my mind was spinning out of control and time was making fun of me .. so I began to use the new mantra ~ with really excellent results.
Mantra can be thought of as 'words replacing words' .. powerful words that we repeat (silently or out aloud like chanting) to replace the noisy irrelevant chatter that often floods our mind space. When our mind becomes overrun with competing and often irrelevant thoughts .. the simple mantra
'it can wait'
is like a commanding instruction ~ to put aside the unimportant, and refresh our focus to what is most important right now.
"It can wait"
I found the mantra to be useful both in my meditation practice and within a busy day. When I was trying to finish an urgent article (trying not to stress about the lack of creative ideas and the glaring white page staring at me) .. I simply repeated "It can wait .. It can wait .. It can wait" .. gently and softly repeating the mantra until the worrisome thoughts abated and I returned to my writing. Racing around trying to get to the Post Office, the Bank and school pick up before close of business (again lamenting the lack of time, the article still not finished, the negative speak that I wasn't good enough or capable enough for it all) .. I silently
used the mantra again, still moving forward and driving towards my planned activities, but no longer accompanied by the negativity and dampening mind speak.
When in meditation, where there are always going to be distractions, rather than getting caught up with the worries of the day, I silently noted "It can wait" each time a thought arose, and gently returned to my meditation. It is a little similar to the technique of 'naming' where we silently naming our distraction before allowing it to pass, but I found "it can wait" a little more commanding. When I sensed a thought arising, I would recite the mantra, and gently my mind would move around the distraction and back to the task at hand.
"It can wait" gives us permission to put down our load of
and just focus on what we are doing in the present moment .. and if we are honest most of the other 'stuff' truly can wait. The mantra also removes that sense of urgency or emergency that challenges us to do all, manage all, achieve all.
"It can wait" becomes a powerful statement of affirmation in the importance
of the present moment". I find myself planning? "It can wait".
Right now I'm just going to be with my present moment experience."
Wildmind Buddhist Meditation
When you find yourself ruminating or racing chaotically from thought to thought, take a moment to reflect - is it really something you need to address in this moment?
If not, use the mantra "It can wait" and allow the thought(s) to pass. Then return to your current task, fully focused and aware.