Racing Thoughts? These 4 Breath Techniques Can Beat Monkey Mind
Take a moment to imagine one of those vintage windup monkeys: You know, the ones with the yellow-and-red-striped outfits, bulging eyes, and creepy smiles on their faces. Turn the key, let it go, and the monkey goes nuts, making screeching sounds with those brass cymbals.
Now, imagine that you’re the windup monkey. Well, your body is. And your mind is the key, winding itself again and again with every experience, thought, and emotion. Each time you wind the key, the tension in the mind and the body builds. You can feel the resistance growing tighter and tighter—and you know there are only so many times you can keep turning the key until the spring snaps. So you wind it just enough, then let it go and watch the monkey do its thing.
Unfortunately, at times, when we’re too wound up, we also screech, showing our teeth, and feel like we’re banging our head against the wall. The term “monkey mind” has never felt so fitting, huh?
Needless to say, our minds are busy—maybe busier than ever, with technology keeping us plugged in to the office and at home 24/7. As obvious as it sounds, a “daily unwind”—a release of all the tension that builds up in our heads throughout the day—is a must. Just like you brush your teeth every day, think of it as a nonnegotiable. Taking a daily unwind can be as simple as tuning in to your breathing. Think of the breath as the “off switch” for the mind, shifting the nervous system from high alert to rest-and-rejuvenation mode.
Do a few neck and shoulder rolls, and then give one of these mind-clearing breath techniques a try:
- This type of breath immediately clears the mind and re-energizes the nervous system. It calls on us to breathe in a little more air than we typically would. Inhale through your nose, pause when you reach lung capacity, and then take a couple of more tiny sips of air and hold for a moment. Release by exhaling fully through the nose. Repeat two to three times.
- Whenever you’re feeling the physical or emotional effects of stress—tightness in the chest, shallow breathing, racing thoughts—take a long, deep breath and hold for a moment. Then, exhale fully with the sound hmmmmm. Repeat three to five times, and follow it up with the mind-shift breath three to five times.
I hope these exercises help you become more naturally and effortlessly present, mindful, calm, and alive. Monkey mind, be gone! Click on the link below to read the full article and see how these breathing exercises help with a clear mind.