Quieting the Mental Chatterbox
Today kicks off the 21-day Savasana challenge at my yoga studio, where I have committed to spending 10 minutes a day in Savasana pose (corpse pose) through September 21st. I learn a lot about myself when I spend quiet time inside my mind and body, so I thought I'd share my journey and lessons here!
It's inevitable: near the end of yoga class, as the poses get less physically demanding, my mind finds its way to other things. Usually it wanders to my plans for leaving the studio gracefully.
Will I say "thank you for leading a great practice" or do I simply smile and nod as I walk out the door? Do I address the instructor by their name? How do I introduce myself if I haven't done so already?
I get wrapped up in trying to look cool and collected, instead of focusing on wrapping up my practice in the here and now. Have I mentioned how much I have needed yoga?
It's a distracting case of mild social anxiety that follows me throughout the day. Whenever my mind has a moment to spare, it runs off with some wild story or anxiety and doesn't want to come back. It's like a dog who doesn't want to go back on his leash after an hour at the park.
So what do I even do? How can I get the dog back on the leash when it damn well knows that I don't have any treats with me?
It demands to be noticed, so notice it
The chatterbox (which is a word I use for my ego) always wants something. It wants certainty, and goes to whichever corner of your life is currently uncertain. It wants to drag your reasonable self with it, to be there to validate its fears and to sympathize with its sorrows.
Instead of doing what it says, I try to acknowledge that noisy voice in a more general sense. I use phrases like "I see you" or "I feel you" because I know that it just runs rampant without a little nod.
It needs some tough love
After I acknowledge it, I like to just say "no" to it. As in, I see you, but no.
This is so much easier said than done, and I believe I'll be working on this for years and years to come. My chatterbox is often turned up to eleven and I have to say no to it frequently. It can be more than once or twice a minute when it's really raging on about something, which happens every day.
When I'm sealing my yoga practice in corpse pose, I'm lucky if I get a few seconds of mental silence. I'm reaching that quiet more often with practice, but it's still like a thousand radios are playing in my head all at once when I'm left to my own devices.
But mostly, it needs love
This is where I go off the map into la-la-land, so bear with me. To top it all off, I add an "I love you" to the reprimand.
I see you, but no. I love you. We're not going down that road today. I love you and I feel you. No.
To mix metaphors, this chatterbox is like a screaming infant. You wouldn't scream right back at the baby, would you? Instead, soothing and gentle acknowledgment can go a long way to getting past the turbulence to the real issue at hand.
It's not as radical as you think it is (seriously try it and I bet you'll like how it feels to tell yourself that you love yourself). Plus, this is all within your own mind, so no one ever has to know that this is what you're telling yourself.
So here's my challenge to you: after you read this post, go find a quiet place to sit or lie down (not your bed, because sleep happens). Set a timer for five minutes and lovingly dig past the chatterbox to reach the calm, quiet place in your head.
It's there, I promise. It's just hidden under layers of information and fears and sorrows. Revel in it once you arrive, even if it's just for a few precious seconds.
Did you find it?