How Feeling Quiets the Mind
So many people — including myself — can get moving through life so quickly that winding down can seem impossible. And, slowing the mind is not only possible, it’s easier than you think!
For one thing, it helps to realize what you’re dealing with. The nervous system is like a flywheel. Once it gets going, reeling it in takes practice, patience, and a little know-how.
The missing piece I discovered is feeling. Feeling can occupy and focus your entire nervous system pretty quickly. In truth, feeling and thinking are somewhat inverse. The more we feel, the less we think. That’s how the nervous system works!
Sensing can take the form of feeling the weight of the body, the surface we’re sitting or lying on, or the feeling of fabrics on our skin. The feeling of the breath moving in and out of the body.
If you use caffeine or are just naturally really ramped up, it might take a few days to notice your gains. I bet you’ll notice pretty quickly though that once you’re really feeling, even if you don’t seem slower right away, there will be a smoother quality to your “speed.” It’s so gratifying when these small gains make their appearance!
One of my favorite “feeling strategies” is an ancient breathing practice I learned from a brilliant Chinese medical doctor many years ago - give it a try!
While feeling your contact with the floor, visualize a cord pulling your crown toward the sky. Your whole tongue is pressed across the roof of your mouth.
Take a deep breath through the nose. Feel the sensation of the abdomen filling slowly. Then feel the chest fill, and then the neck and head. Imagine you’re filling a 3-level gourd with water. Continue to slow it down, especially at the top of the “gourd.” See if you can add the last few “drops” possible before you exhale.
When I repeat this sensing practice, especially at bedtime, often by the time I reach 30 or so breaths I’m practically asleep. Moving the attention from thinking to feeling takes practice, but the skill builds quickly and if feels amazing. Let me know how it goes!