We are in a culture of doers. If there is something to get done, well, then get up and do it. In order to get things done, we plan, we theorize, we analyze, and then we execute an action plan. To put our dreams into motion is a very wonderful human ability. We create homes, families, jobs, communities, and so much more. The joys that are reaped from all of these endeavors are immense; yet, there is an aspect that we are less adept at… the mechanism to turn our thoughts off. After the job or task is complete, the brain seems to be stuck on reviewing and analyzing. It is not a thought process that we seemingly want to be stuck in…but there it is…a busy mind. It is a busy mind that is directly connected to the stress mechanism of the body that actually generates brain fog, diminished clarity, and many chronic illnesses including irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, and headaches.
The mechanism of turning off the noisy mind is a paradox. This paradox is that the ability to do more and create is generated by the willingness and ability to pause and do less. Quieting the mind actually sharpens the mind. Quieting the mind can be described as living in the moment, mindfulness and/or awareness.
Let’s begin identifying some of the things that not only occupy our minds, but also actually become what can be called “malignant thoughts.” These are the thoughts that repeat over and over, to the point that we can wonder if there actually is an off button. We worry about the future, yet dwell on the past, sometimes accomplishing both at the same time. We dwell on the hurts and failures forgetting the joys and successes. We worry about how we could’ve improved our performance. We allow self-consciousness to plague and haunt us.
The answer is not to force thinking positive thoughts. The answer is not to put mind over matter. The answer is to be in the present moment. In that magical moment called “The Now,” when nothing exists except you and the moment. It is there that the brain can regenerate and renew itself. It is there, where no thought is active, that the body can begin healing.
So, how do we reach this magical moment? We offer two favorites:
1) Engage in an activity that allows you to be sensory aware. It is best to begin while in middle of an activity. For example, while at the sink washing dishes, notice where your mind wanders then stop. Allow yourself to be with the water. Feel the water. The temperature. The warmth. Immerse yourself in the moment and sensation of washing the dishes. Nothing else. This is a mindfulness moment. This is an activity of quieting the mind that can be done at any time throughout the day. This brings awareness and consciousness to the moment. This is quieting the mind.
2) The Three Oy Vey Points (Hands, Face, and Chest): This 60-second exercise serves to quiet the mind and has been shown effective in generating positive changes in functional MRIs.
a. Rub both hands together like you are applying lotion for 20 seconds
b. Place both hands over your face with your fingers covering your eyes. Duration: The length of three good breaths
c. Place both hands over your heart for the length of three good breaths.
When should these exercises be done? Begin as a regular exercise at least 2x/day. The real skill is to identify when you are generating repetitive thoughts. Any time you find yourself in the middle of a repetitive pattern, do one of these exercises, even for a minute, and feel the body begin to change.
Phyllis Krug is a physical therapist with a private practice in Teaneck, NJ and Monsey, NY. Her practice integrates many mind/body and energy therapies. She is available for private consultation, lectures, and classes and can be reached at 973-704-9062 or www.energydialogues.net.
Phyllis Gordon is an occupational therapist practicing in Tenafly, NJ using traditional OT as well as holistic energetic techniques for infants through seniors. She may be contacted at 201-569-6288 or www.phyllisgordon.com for sessions.