We live in a frenetic world, where multitasking has become the norm. What used to be the ability to accomplish more things than one, or to pay attention to more things than one, has become the equivalent of doing many things at robotic speed, but never quite as well as we would, if we were to take time to take each thing and do it properly from beginning to end. Speed has become the one thing that rules everything: work, leisure, home and bonds of any kind. Rather than making us more efficient, there seems to be an unprecedent decrease in productivity, creativity and responsibility; less and less are people able to reflect and use critical thinking. Living under such state can affect our health and how our society functions.
So why do we think so quickly and consider it as an outstanding quality? Basically, because it’s been linked to IQ: the faster you respond, the better. The faster you act, the sooner you supposedly arrive, and so on. But this is an erroneous way of understanding how IQ works…. for high IQ has never been the equivalent or mediocrity, and yet the more speed we are forced to live by, the more mediocre our society is becoming.
Thoughts can move at the speed of a whirlwind. Or sometimes, at the speed of an unstoppable tornado that exhausts us and does not allow us to live calmly. Unless you have the built-in discipline of meditation, mindfulness, tai chi, yoga or the like, you may find yourself at many times with thoughts turning in your mind. This article then, is to share with you some techniques which may help slow down your mind. This article is for everyone, from the person who feels they have 100 things to do in one day, to the person whose level of creativity may come in cycles which may feel overwhelming — what these two have in common is…stress.
So, what are the benefits of slowing our mind and processing our thoughts calmly?…
- It helps us lower anxiety.
- In a society that lives as if everything was urgent, slowing down our thinking process, helps us discern between important and urgent; prioritizing what is truly important over everything that seems urgent.
- Slowing down our thinking can help us learn more about how our mind and thinking process works. Discovering a mind processing system that leverages all our resources.
- Stop wasting mental energy by putting it at full speed; fast doesn’t always means better.
- Learning to slow our mind can leave us feeling with a greater self-awareness, personal mastery and serenity.
Here are 3 of my favorite techniques to achieve a calmer thinking process:
Technique No. 1: Visualize thinking in slow motion.
As if it were a high-speed video image, what you will do with your creative mind is slow down, visualize it until you see it almost frame by frame, sequence by sequence. It’s about slowing your thoughts down to the maximum.
Result: you will observe the details, stop at aspects not previously considered, and have more clarity to decide how to act.
Technique N° 2: Draw a quadrant
When you have thoughts at 250 kilometers per hour in your mind, take a blank sheet, draw a cross and you will have four spaces, which we will call 1, 2, 3 and 4 in a sequence like the hands of the clock.
Take a deep breath, while focusing on slowing down your thoughts and at the same time, you divide them into 4 parts…
Write or draw in each quadrant a concept, a few words that represent it.
Utilizing paper takes the energy from your mind onto something more tangible; the overwhelming energy flows into your hand and discharges into what you trace. This simple act allows you to sort out the idea in a sequence of just 4 steps, and not the gush of things that flooded your mind.
Technique N° 3: The 3 concentric circles
In this case, take 3 different colors and draw three circles: a large one that will contain the other two, each with lines of different color.
Then, as if through a special effect, close your eyes and visualize, your thoughts spinning and slowing down in your mind.
They start at full speed, overwhelmingly fast –If your thoughts are going at incredible speed, it is natural that you may be left with a kind of ringing in your ears–through this technique, we will try to slow them down to a minimum. It is important to remember that although you may feel as if all your thoughts are out of control, you are on the driver’s seat…you have the control; you guide the lever to slow down, until you stop them.
Write in the central circle the axis, the main thought and the information it brings (for example, an action, a decision, a learning, a mental loop). In the one that follows, write the emotion that produces that nucleus of thought. In the outer circle, write down a way of acting or a reflection; whatever you want to do once you’ve identified the core. You can even write down…. “I will discard this thought”. You may ask yourself, why didn’t I just do that before? probably because it was not as simple to identify when all thoughts are moving at full speed.
Becoming aware of what the core of the whirlwind of thoughts are and connecting them with an emotion and then an action or an outcome, helps you frame the vertigo of your mind, regulate the speed, and lessen the sense of immediacy that dominated you before.
These techniques work if you practice them continuously. Please feel free to adapt them to your style and personality, and you’ll soon see how you’ll begin to better master quick thinking, while gaining the benefits of a calmer thinking process.
Hopefully it will serve you!