In his address to the United Negro College Fund, whose slogan is “a mind is a terrible thing to waste”, Dan Quayle was quoted as saying: “What a waste it is to lose one’s mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.”
You might say that there is a time and place to lose one’s mind, it can be a very freeing experience.
The very nature of the mind can be a friend or a foe. One aspect of the mind is to take any real-time experience that we are having and to turn it into a film. It enables us to create space between us and the experience. This can be useful if the situation is threatening. We can observe in slow motion, we can play it back to ourselves, frame by frame, and we can observe it from different angles. We’re better able to see what the pattern is.
The downside of this is two-fold: 1) If our nervous system is stuck in fear/fight/flight, then we’ll tend to interpret more of our experiences as threatening. This leads to overuse of the mind to create a safe distance and “takes us out of our body”. 2) When we’re using the mind in this way, we can’t be in the flow. And the flow state gives us access to so much more of our potential energy, healing, talents and humanness.
Over-analysis turns into a type of paralysis, not just with a delay of decision making. It also turns down the volume of signals in the nervous system: You feel less. There is an increase in alertness and tension and we hold our breath.
Learning to focus on the body is the key to unlocking the habit of over-thinking. We’ll look at this further in Part 2.