Overthinking and the value of Stillness, Stability & Sensitivity

WITH BENNY BUTTON'S FOUNDER AND MINDFULNESS EXPERT - DR ADRIAN MEDHURST.

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 :)