Many people have difficulty quieting the mind when they settle into meditation or savasana, the resting period at the end of yoga class.
What do you mean, “watch the breath?”
Really the intention is to feel the breath.
If you have a mind that is constantly in overdrive, try noticing the difference between feeling and thinking.
Feel your body. The mind is habituated to constantly thinking. It is always commenting, analyzing and judging. Your mind is a highly specialized problem-solver and this evaluative mode of the brain is its default mode.
The problem is it doesn’t know how to turn off. Especially when you are trying to sleep. It’s ready to solve all the problems in the world!
Here’s how you turn it off – FEEL YOUR BODY.
Really all you are doing is redirecting your awareness. Instead of letting the mind run willy-nilly into the land of thinking, turn your awareness toward feeling the body.
You can start with just feeling what you are in contact with – a chair, bed, or floor. Then you can move to more subtle sensations like your eyes or forehead and temples. Feel your feet, jaw or your shoulders. You could even focus on places of discomfort, but beware judgments and analyzing. Can you just feel this area with curiosity?
And then there’s the breath. The breath is always providing some sensations. You could hold your awareness on one of the sensations of breathing and stay there, getting into the finer details of those sensations. Can you feel the coolness of the inhalations in your nostrils? Or the warmth of the exhalations? Perhaps you can even feel your nostril hairs moving with the breath.
What?! That’s crazy.
It’s true. You can if you just focus.
The next time you find yourself with an overly busy mind, try feeling your body. You may have to bring it back over and over – that pesky thinking mind is pretty strong – but every time you bring it back to the body you are strengthening your concentration muscle and that’s what you need to control those thoughts.
Be patient. Keep feeling.