Overthinking and the value of Stillness, Stability & Sensitivity


I've trained and practiced the bejeebus out of thinking through my studies at uni and through life experiences and relationships. Think think think think think...

When we train something a lot and practice something regularly enough, we typically get better at it. We develop our capacity. We get stronger. This is true for a great many things. I believe I have become a better thinker through training and practice.

However, I do believe there are consequences that can emerge that aren't always helpful.

So, I ask you - Does more practice thinking = better thinking? Or, is it not that simple. Does it depend on one thing or another? Is there a law of diminishing return? And, are there alternatives to 'more thinking' that can lead to great levels of insight, learning, understanding, growth, and progress? 

I think there are. Actually, thinking that there are is an incomplete and unfair summation. I also feel like there are. I sense that there are. I have experienced alternatives to the focused thinking I've trained and practiced so much that have proven incredibly valuable. 

So, when I notice myself sliding the slope towards overthinking. Or, when I have allowed rationalising, intellectualising, hypothesising, and analysing to overrun my mind without added value. I turn to a new kind of training and practice I've added to my routine. 

For those who know me well, this is still very much a work in progress. But, I am seeing the benefits of practice and I'm getting better at noticing when my thinking is running amok. 

So, my mindfulness strategy for overthinking has 3 elements to it.

  1. Stillness - although it can be really tough and uncomfortable at first, I consciously slow down my body movement and find stillness. This helps me see the nature of my mind more clearly. At this point, I typically notice it racing, and I really recognise the need for approaching things differently. 

  2. Stability - I stabilise my mind by stabilising my breath. Breathing slowly and steadily creates stability in my mind. With a stable mind, I can use my mind more effectively.

  3. Sensitivity - I practice letting my head, heart, and guts speak to me - instead of relying solely on thinking. I allow myself to sit with a challenge, task, idea, or problem with a sense of easeful and playful curiosity; instead of trying to force an outcome.

Sometimes this practice allows me to uncover greater insight. Sometimes I notice my instincts and intuition kick in and guide me in useful ways. Sometimes intelligence rises up to offer something of value to consider. 

Aaaaand, sometimes I can't help myself but to keep thinking and overthinking.  

As I always say, though, practice makes progress :)