What does over stimulus of the mind have to do with tiredness?
Unless we are completely focused upon something the normal way of being for most of us is to respond or react to several different stimuli an hour, or even minute by minute. What this does to the brain is a sort of jangling or scrambling of sensory perceptions from our thoughts and also from sight, hearing, our speech and even touch. This scrambles our nervous system and sets off mini, or major, stress responses all over the body.
When we are going about our normal life our attention gets pulled to, for instance, the work tasks we need to do, conversation with another, reacting to several things online or in the world and the news, reacting to things going on in our immediate environment and so on. This, of course, is perceived as normal. It’s also seen as normal, laudable even, to multi task. It’s not, it’s a way of being that has been trained into us, it’s a way of living life that leads to increased stress and of course increased tiredness.
This post is about soothing the nervous system and through that we calm the mind. One of the fastest ways to soothe the nervous system is to withdraw the attention from external stimuli and bring it inwards.
There are two practical ways to do this, one focusing on a more formal practice and the other in how we go about daily life.
Withdrawing from stimuli
If your nerves are feeling very jangled or you simply feel overwhelmed try the following. Find a room where you can be alone, either make the room very dark, wrap a dark scarf around the eyes or wear an eyemask (I often use a mask called The Mindfold in meditation as complete darkness is healing to the Pineal gland. This is a mask that is like a blackout blind for the eyes). Or just bury yourself under a duvet! Unless you live somewhere very quiet consider putting on noise cancelling headphones. If you need to listen to something perhaps just use soothing nature sounds.
Once you’ve shut out as much of the external as possible bring your attention to the breath then begin to calm the internal stimuli. This does not mean our mind has to be quiet – if you are feeling overstimulated this will be impossible. Simply notice when you get caught up in thoughts and dialogue and most importantly of all do not berate yourself for this. I will write about the misinterpretation of meditation by the West in another post!
A simple technique to quieten the mind is to count to 10 very slowly, one count for each breath, then count backwards from 10. Perhaps repeat this a couple of times or as many times as you wish.
Five minutes of this would be soothing, we can all spare five minutes for our health and well-being. But take however long you need.
Soothing over stimuli in every day life
When going about everyday life see if you can focus on what is relevant and important such as the immediate task at hand or on the person who needs your attention.
Before each task, pause for a breath and simply intend to be here with full attention with whatever you are doing; whether this is work related, talking to a friend on the phone, preparing food, doing housework or even sitting down to watch TV.
The effect of this on our mind and body is very deep; if you have ever been around someone whom you find calming to be with it is guaranteed that they live like this. It’s a simple way to be be, not necessarily easy as we have to relearn old habits, this takes time and discipline but once the new habit is set it becomes easy.
And once that new habit is set we begin to free up our energy systems to have more space for calm, for health and a renewal of natural vitality.