Don’t think so much. Can you remember a time when you weren’t thinking? It’s become our default state. We ponder, contemplate, mentally wrestle, plan, plot, critique and silently comment on just about everything.
While our kids are talking, we think about work or what’s for dinner or when we can squeeze in our yoga practice. While on our mat or at work, we think about our kids. We think about our finances while making dinner. We think about taking a vacation while sitting in a meeting and then think about recent meetings while on vacation.
Even if our attention is on our practice we’re often thinking non-stop about it: I’m sore today, this pose was easier yesterday, I wish the teacher would slow down, I’m rocking this practice, look how much further I can reach today. Thinking, thinking, thinking – it’s a windfall of wasted energy. When we let go of our mindless mind chatter we conserve energy and clear the way for more mindful thinking.
Don’t talk so much. Talking has become almost as mindless as thinking. We feel compelled to fill the silence when we are with someone. We even talk to ourselves when we are alone.
Try being with someone and not filling the space with words. It’s refreshing. Eat lunch with your kids or co-workers and resist temptation to fill silence with details of past or future events. Let everyone be in the present moment of lunch. Take a lesson from the little ones and notice what they talk about while lunching or if they feel the need to talk at all. Kids will often simply enjoy their food or make a game of it. I bet one of your co-workers will quickly fill the space with words.
When we stop talking, we notice more of the world around us, especially if we’ve learned to silence all that thinking as well. We actually hear people and listen to understand, not half-hear while we plan our clever response. We breathe, we listen, we acknowledge we’ve heard, we make a mindful comment or two, and we conserve a gallon of energy.
Don’t worry so much. Here’s another mindless auto-pilot activity. Take a cue from the Dalai Lama, “If there is no solution to the problem then don’t waste time worrying about it. If there is a solution to the problem then don’t waste time worrying about it.”
It’s not only problems we worry about. Worry has become the default state for many. We worry whether the kids are warm enough, eat healthy enough, get enough fresh air. We worry about our work and our finances, and if we’ll have a safe flight on our vacation. We worry about the weather and things beyond our control. We worry about how we spend our time, our money, and our attention. We worry about our health and injuries. We worry about how we are perceived by others and if we are doing enough in this world to help.
Drop the worry and do. Do plan the vacation, don’t worry about it. Do pack an extra fruit or veg in your child’s lunch, don’t worry about it. Do spend less and pay off your credit card, don’t worry about it. The worry doesn’t serve you, it only causes wrinkles. Take the energy you would waste on the worry and use it to fuel the do.
When thoughts are flooding your mind or words your mouth, take a long, slow, deep breath, drop your shoulders and release your grasp on the thought, word or worry. Just let it go. Another thought? Another breath. Another urge to engage in verbal filler? Another breath. Another worry? Another breath. You have to take them anyway, may as well turn your full attention on them.
Several times a day remind yourself: Don’t think so much. Don’t talk so much. Don’t worry so much. Each time take a deep breath. Every breath creates space. The space for a lighter, happier you.