When it all gets to be too much, switch from thinking to being.
Naturally, introverts are thinkers. Sure, we are doers, too, but personally, there is an awful lot of contemplating before any doing. In fact, my wife always insists that I am overthinking when it comes to conversations.
As an introvert, there is always a lot of inner narration going on in my mind throughout the day.
I am continually looking for the meaning in things. That involves asking a lot of questions, wanting to know the whys and hows.
However, the workings of my mind don’t merely end once I’ve finally exhausted every possibility and taken action. There is often a whole lot of introspection after doing.
I am bombarded with re-runs of situations and conversations like a mental movie.
Furthermore, if I’m not analyzing past experiences, you will often find me thinking ahead to the future. I love doing this, and I usually get carried away with my big-picture ideas.
However, I recently realized something: If I’m spending all this time in my head, who is present in each moment?
How Much Am I Missing by Analyzing Rather Than Experiencing?
Mindfulness helps me press pause on the mental movies and turn off this excessive overthinking, even if just for a moment. With practice, I’ve learned to switch from thinking and doing mode to sensing and being mode.
We often forget there is a bottom half of us because we spend so much time in our heads (this doesn’t only apply to introverts).
I use my body and breath to help me switch modes to do a quick three-minute breathing meditation. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Recognize that you are in thinking mode.
What thoughts are going through your mind?
What feelings do you notice? Do you feel uncomfortable? If so, just acknowledge these, with no pressure to change anything right now.
What sensations do you feel in your body? Are your shoulders tense, is there any tightness anywhere? Again, just acknowledge these sensations.
Step 2: Redirect your attention.
Imagining a spotlight is extremely helpful. Picture it zoomed in on the physical sensations of the in-breath and the out-breath. Tune into sensing mode by focusing on the rise and fall of your chest or belly area.
Just notice each in-breath followed by each out-breath. When the mind wanders off again to thinking mode, simply bring it back to the physical sensations of breathing.
Step 3: Just be.
Try to zoom that spotlight out, so you are now aware of your whole body as it breathes in and out. Even if for just a moment, you have switched from thinking to merely be.
With practice, this transition becomes more comfortable and can be done anywhere at any time.
Bring Your Attention to the Sensations in Your Body
These three steps will give you an insight into how much your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations are connected. Notice that the point is not to try to change these.
The intention is simply to start practicing being aware of switching more readily from thinking mode.
Each time I bring myself back to the present moment, I have the opportunity to shift my attention from the inner world of mental stimulation to the outer world. With that awareness, I’m able to notice physical sensations.
As a result, I am making an active effort to live in my body more and become more aware of my physical being in each moment. Using anchors like my breath and the physical sensations enhance the experience.
I also like to use my feet as an anchor, just stopping, feeling my feet anchored to the floor, which gives me a sense of grounding.
You can also use the stillness of what is around you to remind you to come back to the peace within. If you simply look out your window and find a tree or plant to focus on, this is a quick and easy way to remind yourself to just be.
Watch how that tree or plant remains still, grounded, not resisting — merely being — regardless of the weather or seasonal changes.
This Is Not About Changing Ourselves
Introverts can offer unique insights due to how we approach the world and how we often let our intuition guide our thinking. I love being an introvert.
What I love even more is I am aware that I’m an introvert, so I don’t feel guilty or selfish for loving my alone time.
There are many misconceptions about introverts, for example, that we are unsociable. I used to always ask myself, “What’s wrong with me?” when thinking of yet another excuse to get out of a social gathering.
However, my once negative and judgemental attitude toward my feelings has changed for the positive.
It is beautiful not to be like everyone else and to love my own company, but this self-confidence didn’t come automatically. It is in these moments of self-doubt that mindfulness is especially helpful for me.
It’s About Being Kind to Ourselves
I could sit at home in my pajamas with a cup of tea, living my best life, until I started thinking about what I might be missing out on at the social gathering.
However, after practicing mindfulness, I have realized that I don’t have to sit and wallow in my thoughts. I can switch out of thinking mode to being mode.
Similarly, my attention goes from repetitive and habitual negative chatter to genuinely being in the moment, enjoying each sip of my tea, guilt-free, alone, and feeling blissful.
I feel so lucky to know that there are natural tools, like my breath, that can be used to distract and pull me out of my busy mind.
It’s comforting to know that I can recognize my body’s physical sensations and the authentic experience of a moment with awareness.
Next time you feel overwhelmed with the noise inside, honor yourself and your mind by turning down that inner narration.
Give yourself a small moment to be quiet and just be.
Thanks for reading. This article originally posted here. I hope the words in this article were helpful or helped spark conversation.