We know that when we are caught up in anxious, stressed or unhappy thinking or that when our thoughts feel manic, hysterical or overwhelming, they are often racing through our minds as we react to them at high speed, engaging in dialogue with people from our past or trying to defend ourselves against our own attacks or think our way out of a frantic mindset.
What is so helpful at times like these is to notice the speed of our thinking. Rarely can we be experiencing these states of mind and the corresponding feelings they create without our thoughts moving very quickly and just noticing this can be enough for us to slow them down, bringing us into calmer states of mind and body.
When we think slowly, focusing on one thing at a time and one thought at a time, we bring our presence and awareness to mind and are more clear headed as a result. When we slow things down, we calm our bodies, reducing our adrenaline and cortisol levels and slowing our heart rates.
Our minds and bodies work together to give us a fully fledged experience of whatever thoughts we are giving energy to and the experience is so real that we can forget we are the ones creating it. Monitoring the speed of our thinking lets us shift gears when we see we are going really fast which brings us down from a heightened state and allows us to gain clarity and perspective.
We soothe ourselves when we let our minds relax and bring awareness to our state of mind in the moment. So often a racing mind feels as it has a life of its own and all we want to do is shut down our thoughts entirely but we don’t have to escape an experience that we are in charge of or a system designed for us to take control.
Thoughts fly through our minds all day every day and we get to decide which ones we create more thinking about. We don’t have to do anything with random thoughts, even if they provoke our ego or feel like they need to be dealt with. Unless we are in a space of wellbeing and peace, we rarely help ourselves by concentrating on and analysing thoughts that make us feel other than well and even if we feel something needs to be attended to and healed, unless we are thinking calmly and insightfully, it is better for us to let those thoughts go until we are able to consider them from a peaceful perspective.
Moments of thought created distress occur perhaps more frequently throughout our days than we are aware of and bringing awareness to what we are doing in our minds by looking at the speed of our thinking is a helpful practice for becoming conscious of how we are thinking in the moment.
Old patterns of thinking need not control us when we are aware of the way we use thought and the experiences we create via it and looking at how fast we are creating new thoughts or resurrecting old ones allows us to shine a light on our physical reactions to our state of mind which creates a distance from it that automatically allows us to settle and calm down.
Focusing on slowing our thoughts is not a new idea; it is what we try to do for children when we comfort them after a fright and calm them into a more peaceful state. The understanding that as adults we can still benefit from quietening down our thoughts and settling down our bodies can help us return to a more innocent state of being that allows us to flow in and out of states of mind and through and on from states of being and experience more peace and health in our lives as a result of it.