I don’t know about you but these days I put meditation in the “should” basket of my life. You know what I mean: I should clean out the fridge, I should go to the dentist, I should meditate. Don’t get me wrong, I admire those people who can wake up at 5am to meditate before they start their day, it’s just that I can’t do it and not for lack of trying. For years I was a yoga and meditation devotee. Those fleeting moments when my mind was still were absolutely wonderful … but fleeting. Like trying to catch a cloud, they slipped away before I had had time to marvel at the experience.
There’s no doubt that Buddha was on to something when he described the constant internal monologue that our mind subjects us to every day as being like a bunch of drunken monkeys all clamoring for our attention, with the fearful drunken monkey shouting loudest of all.
The good news – at least for me and hopefully this will work for you too – is that some years ago I stumbled across a really simple way I could clear my mind, no matter where I am, and it only takes five minutes. Even better, you don’t have to close your eyes!
I call them the Brain Drain pages. All you need is a piece of paper and a pen. No, you can’t use your phone, tablet or computer. This works because both sides of your brain are involved: the left brain is used to move your fingers to form the letters; the right side is used to track your thoughts.
How to do the Brain Drain:
Write for five minutes, or six A4 sized pages, whichever is quicker.
Write down each thought as you have it. Don’t judge or change it. If you lose a thought don’t worry about it, go on to the next thought. For example, your thoughts might go like this: Wow, it’s hot today, I hate that shirt that guy’s wearing … etc., etc.
When you have finished your five minutes or six pages, DO NOT re-read them! Put them away in a large envelope or folder. After a month you can re-read them. You might be surprised how many things you worried about weeks ago have now been sorted. If you do this daily, you might also notice how your thoughts change over time. You might even find some creative solutions sneaking in.
This little exercise is also perfect for times of high anxiety like job interviews or the aforementioned visit to the dentist or doctor. If you get into the habit of carrying a notebook with you, the waiting room is a great place to let go of all your fear before you walk through that door.
Another great variation that helps develop greater brain integration, is to practice writing your pages with your non-dominant hand. For most of us, this will be the left hand. This has the added benefit of slowing down your thoughts as you grapple with forming the letters; hence, you will feel calmer! You will be amazed over time at how your handwriting will improve and the quality of your creative thinking will be noticeable.
Goodbye drunken monkeys!
Joy Aimee is a specialist in disordered eating and founder of Joy Aimee Counselling, which focusses on the healing benefits of expressive arts in therapy. She is the author of “So What’s Today’s Brilliant Excuse – A Practical Guide to Overcoming Procrastination and Self-Doubt” and “So Where’s My Happy Ever After?” her account of personal transformation. For more information go to www.joyaimee.com.au or contact firstname.lastname@example.org