I can’t relax. I can’t switch off. My mind is constantly racing. I can’t concentrate on anything. I can’t sleep.
These are some of the common phrases I hear from my (new) yoga clients, as well as friends and family.
A feeling of being out of control. Feeling edgy. A feeling of foreboding. Mind skittery. Body tense and achey.
I know how it feels. I’ve been there. I remember many a night when I lay awake with that feeling of not being about to shut up my mind. Of it being in control of me. Of not knowing how to even start to make it quiet.
Take back control through your breath
But I want you to know that it IS possible to take back control of your mind. To find peace with your mind. To be able to release the thoughts and find ease.
And it all starts with your breath.
When we’re stuck in the maelstrom of our mind we lose contact with our body. The busy-ness of the mind leads to physical tension but we may have lost awareness of how our body feels because we’re so stuck in our whirling thoughts.
So, get back into your body. And an easy way to do this is to focus on your breath.
Breath in, breathe out.
See if you can feel the expansion of your chest and rib cage as you breathe in, and the natural contraction and fall as you breathe out.
Feel the chair beneath you, where it’s in contact with your back and/or the backs of your legs. Feel your feet on the ground. Notice the sensations of the air against your skin. Feel the cool in-breath at your nostrils and the warm out-breath.
Stretch your arms above your head. Let them drop slowly back down. Wriggle your fingers and toes.
Now you’re back in your body you can begin to reconnect your body, your breath and your mind.
Close your eyes. And let your awareness rest in your body. How does it feel? Try not to judge the sensations – no doubt your mind will try to judge how you feel, but remember, you’re trying to get back into your body and out of your head so every time a thought comes up, take a deep inhale and invite the thought to dissolve from your mind with the exhale.
Can you feel where you’re holding tension in your body? Scan through your body. Common places are the buttocks, the hands, the shoulders, the jaw.
Wherever and whenever you feel tension, breathe out deeply and, with a gentle voice of loving kindness, tell yourself “I don’t need to hold onto this tension. I can let it go. I let it go.”
Place your hand over your heart and let out a long sigh. Let your sigh be an exhalation that soothes. Sigh the breath out, soften your heart. Let the emotional wounds heal. Let their burdens lift.
Words of wisdom
These words of wisdom bring comfort to me and are a wonderful reminder of a simple practice that brings blessed relief from anxiety and stress:
“Let go of the battle. Breathe quietly and let it be. Let your body relax and your heart soften. Open to whatever you experience without fighting.” ~ Jack Kornfield
Life brings its challenges, it always will. But how much of our suffering around these challenges is caused by our own minds? By the internal battle we create as we resist what is happening or what we’re feeling?
A BIG percentage I’d say!
The struggle begins in the mind and soon finds its way into the body.
So, instead of struggling with your mind, use your body to help your mind feel calmer.
Remember these words when you feel the struggle within:
Breathe, soften, open. Let it be.