Capacity of Your Brain
While we have the ability to be calm, contented and centered, our overactive brain can prevent us from being present. The constant chatter we experience can be referred to as “monkey mind.” Unless we are aware of our monkey mind, we can be easily swept away by our thoughts, emotions and judgments. This mental treadmill is exhausting. It also prevents us from being open and available to what is happening within and around us.
Rewiring Your Brain
The good news is that regardless of how busy your mind is, you still have the ability to rewire your brain. You have it in you to cultivate a more calm, quiet and content mind. This brain change is called positive neuroplasticity and it can be done through intentional effort and repeated practices. Rewiring your brain to quiet the mental treadmill requires that you take regular pauses and bring awareness to your brain’s constant chatter.
When you feel overwhelmed, begin the process of rewiring your brain with the help of the Mindful STOP. This acronym will remind you to:
- Stop whatever you are doing.
- Take a few breaths. Deep diaphragmatic breaths can help move your focus from the busy mind to the belly.
- Observe what you are experiencing. Shift your attention to your body and notice what you are feeling to help cultivate greater presence and awareness in the moment.
- Proceed with something that will support you. When you’ve given yourself the chance to stop you will be far more capable of knowing what you need to do next that can be most helpful.
You might want to place images of stop signs in places that you most need to be reminded to take a pause (e.g., on your computer, refrigerator, or front door).
Mindfulness Can Change Your Brain
Give yourself the time to explore what it really means to be present. As Rick Hanson, Ph.D. says, “mindfulness can help us use our minds to change our brains to change our minds.”