The Art of Slowing the Racing of the Mind

Wouldn’t it be great if you could stop your mind from racing? Information pours into our minds constantly, creating a mental whirlwind. There are times when it really is maddening. What is the remedy? Yoga as defined by the Yoga Sutras is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind. This stilling of is achieved by mastering the 8 limbs of yoga. You may not be able to still the whirling completely without devoting your life to doing so. But if you still it by any amount, you’ll slow down the race and benefit from the quietness you create.

Understanding that the inflow of information is creating the whirling is one way to combat it. We are subjected to a constant stream of information 24-7. The news, social media posts on every platform, texts and emails flood our minds even when the dam is about to let go. Alerts from and random checking of these media flash into our minds like lightning in a storm, jolting us each time they strike. The mind’s whirling accelerates each time; and anxiety forms.

When you know that the influx is affecting you, you’ll know to turn it off. Turning down or off alerts on your phone will help you shield yourself from the lightning bolts of anxiety. Spacing out the time between Instagram and email checking allows you to address them when you choose. Your mind will be prepared for them. You won’t be shocked by their arrival; and perhaps you’ll be less scared of them looming overhead.

Once you’ve shielded yourself from the gremlins causing the whirling, what can you add to your life to find stillness? When you practice yoga, you’re encouraged to come into the present, to feel the sensations in your body and mind right now. The focus you develop by studying aligned yoga asana coaxes you toward the present; in your focus, you let go of distractions. The niyamas and yamas - restraints and observances, include santosha - contentment, aparigraha - non-greed, and ahimsa - non-harming. As you develop these, you let go of attachment, desire for the unnecessary, and spite. You learn to take what you need and only what you need, and invite peace. Just thinking of developing these skills can make the mind slow a little.

Meditation is a difficult practice. It’s hard to sit as the thoughts race through your mind. But learning to cut the chain of one thought leading to the next is a necessary skill for inviting peace. Instead of expecting the mind to be free of thoughts in meditation, we’re looking to slow the thoughts, observe them, break those chains, and notice how we feel. The storm subsides as you become aware of it.

It’s unlikely that you’ll bring the mind to a stop. But you can slow it with the practices you learn in yoga. In the middle of the race, you can get the cars to take a pace lap. The work you do combined with the way you intake the endless stream of stimulus and information gives you the power to break up the storm, stop the thunder and lightning, and thin out the clouds. It’s not easy, but there’s peace on the horizon.