The nature of the mind is to dream and wander. Even when the present moment is completely perfect, it’s normal for your thoughts to run off into the past or future.
Sometimes, daydreaming can provide valuable insights that lead to joy. However, most of the time, the mind isn’t quite so generous. More often than not, the mind’s natural tendency is to ruminate on thoughts that produce stress or anxiety.
Luckily, Qi Gong provides powerful tools for calming the mind and returning to peace. In this article, we’ll discuss the nature of human thinking, as well as share three techniques to quickly calm your busy mind.
Understanding the Human Mind
Why is it that humans tend to think about things that cause stress and anxiety? Why can’t we naturally gravitate toward thoughts that bring us to a place of joy?
As for many questions, the answer lies in human evolution…
Back when humans faced life-threatening situations on a regular basis, it was helpful to have a mind that could quickly identify unwelcoming circumstances. As such, the mind evolved to constantly look for signs of danger and plan for the worst.
For hunter-gatherers who lived in cold climates, it was necessary to consider how much food they needed to gather before the winter. Without thinking about the future, they might not reach the spring. Naturally, this created a tendency for the mind to constantly search for possible threats.
In some cases, this quality still serves us. If you’re walking through a dark jungle and you know there are large predators nearby, it’s probably a good idea to be on high alert for anything that moves.
In modern life, most of the threats we face aren’t nearly as severe as those of our ancestors. Instead of fighting off jaguars, our stressors usually take the form of traffic lights, long lines at the grocery store, work meetings, and getting our kids to school on time. However, internally, we still respond to these “threats” in a similar way as we do to those that are truly life-threatening.
While it’s certainly a good idea to get your kids to school on time and prepare for important work meetings, most of the stress and busy thinking we experience doesn’t actually help us. More often than not, stress and busy thinking make it harder to concentrate and cause emotional fatigue. Not only does this feel uncomfortable, but it also reduces our ability to function at a high level.
In order to experience inner peace and outer resilience, it’s important for us to not let stress and busy thinking get the best of us. Fortunately, as conscious creatures, we can choose to work with our mind and body to let go of patterns of stress and overthinking.
Here are three Qi Gong techniques to quickly help you let go of busy thinking.
Three Steps to Quickly Calm Your Busy Mind
1. Slow Deep Breathing
In Qi Gong, the breath is seen as an important gateway between the mind and body. In other words, breathing is an opportunity to use the intention of the mind to work with the body, and the presentness of the body to work with the mind.
If you pay attention, the quality of your breath is closely linked to your level of stress and the busyness of your thoughts. When you’re feeling stressed out, your breathing becomes quick and shallow. When you’re relaxed and calm, it slows down and becomes deep and full.
One of the quickest ways to calm a busy mind is to take slow, deep breaths.
To start, sit upright in a chair and close your eyes. Bring your full attention to your breath and inhale slowly through your nose, allowing your abdomen and chest to fill up with nourishing oxygen. At the top of your inhale, hold your breath for two to three seconds. Then, exhale slowly through your nose until your lungs are completely empty. At the bottom of your exhale, hold your breath out for another two to three seconds.
You can do this simple breathing exercise for as short or long as you’d like. If you’re busy, perhaps just take five to ten breaths in this manner. If you have more time, maybe follow this breathing practice with some physical activity.
2. Engage Your Body
Just as breath and thinking are closely connected, your body and mind often reflects the quality of one another.
When your mind is racing with busy thoughts, the body often becomes tense and tight. In turn, this causes energy to stagnate, which creates additional discomfort and propels the cycle of busy thinking.
When you move your body, you’re able to release tension and tightness, which allows your mind to relax and become calmer.
There are many different kinds of physical activities you can do — hiking, running, walking, pickleball, or… Qi Gong.
3. Focus on Physical Sensations
In addition to moving your body, it’s often helpful to focus on the physical sensations that you experience in order to calm your mind.
Your body is always in the present moment, but your mind is not. By focusing your mind on physical sensations, you’re able to use your body as an anchor to bring your mind back to the present moment.
Focusing on physical sensation can take many forms. One way is just to sit still, take some deep breaths, and pay attention to whatever you’re feeling in your body.
Another way is to practice Qi Gong, which combines all three of these qualities to help calm the mind.
In Qi Gong, we often start with slow, deep breathing to relax the body and bring our attention to the present moment. Then, we work with a variety of movement exercises to release tension and circulate energy throughout our entire being. And throughout the entire practice, we cultivate a deep awareness of the physical sensations we’re experiencing.
If you’re interested in learning more about Qi Gong and experiencing it for yourself, be sure to check out our upcoming Qi Challenge.
When you sign up for our Qi Challenge, you’ll have the opportunity to try some FREE Qi Gong routines taught by master teacher, Lee Holden.
Because you can feel the positive effects of Qi Gong very quickly, it often only takes a few minutes for students to really “get” why the practice is so powerful. We call this the “aha moment,” because it opens up a new world of possibilities within the realm of personal empowerment and wellbeing.
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