Mind Churn

Have you ever gone through one of those times in your life in which you can’t calm down your thoughts for love nor money? I’m going through one of those periods right now. Or at least the past few days.

I’ve been awake nearly all night with thoughts swirling around and around and around. Nothing I did last night could get the neurons in my brain to calm down and shut the hell up.

More than just a night’s sleep

We attend a Friends Meeting (Quaker church). Yesterday, I couldn’t get my brain to calm down either. The whole point of the silent meeting is to be very present with those around you, collectively seeking God. It’s really a very cool experience.

But if you can’t get your mind settled down enough to enter into that time, you’re really just sitting on a hard wooden bench for an hour, waiting for the time to be done. And for the most part, that’s what I did yesterday.

I didn’t like it.

What to do?

Because I’m in the middle of this mind churn, I don’t particularly have an answer as to how to stop it. I know that it will calm down eventually and my mind will come to its senses and I’ll be able to sleep, to concentrate, to be part of Meeting. But not right now.

Even trying to write this entry this morning is proving quite challenging. I just wasted about 15 minutes of the 30 I have to write this blog post, fiddling with iTunes. (There’s a podcast I listen to while driving to the 5th Circle and I wanted to get the newest episode … which isn’t even there … which then “forced” me to look for something else to download, but what do I want to listen to? AARRRRUUUUGGGGHHHH!)

What I’m going to do.

I’m going to do my level best to be patient. Patience doesn’t come easily to me. It’s not so much about instant gratification for me as it is about doing something. Anything. I have tremendous trouble following the incredibly sage advice of Madeleine L’Engle.

Don’t just do something, stand there!

But that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to continue my morning routine of writing for the first 30 minutes after I get up at oh-dark-thirty, rather than stay in bed for that 1/2 hour because I didn’t sleep. I’m still going to make myself sit quietly for the first 10 minutes after returning home from the 5th Circle, because I need to do that to be a human being for the evening following a day in that place.

And I know it’s going to suck until my mind unsticks itself from this feedback loop of endless activity.

The Point

What does this have to do with anyone other than me an my neuroses?

Well, I suspect that I’m not the only one who suffers from mind churn.

Further, I suspect that I’m not the only one tempted to try to sit down and parse out the strands of the churn in search of some elusive Truth hidden within the churn. Assuming I’m not the only temporary nut case on the planet, let me just say that doing that won’t work. Been there, done that (more than once).

The best thing you can do (imo) is to keep following your routine, telling your mind that it’s okay to be upset for a time, but that it would be really helpful to your ongoing sanity (and ability to sleep!) if it would please calm down and be clear about what it wants and needs.

Eventually, that will happen. If nothing else, your mind will get tired of the churn going unacknowledged and will slow down and finally stop. And you will be able to think again, to sleep again, to concentrate again, to be truly Present with those around you again.

Seems a much better outcome than going bonkers permanently.

I’m just sayin’.

One Response to Mind Churn
  1. Melodee Patterson
    April 5, 2010 | 08:14

    Thanks for giving a name to that annoying, sleep-depriving brain behavior. “Mind churn” says it all :-)

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