Quieting the noise and stopping the mind from spinning creates the head space we need to simply “be”
Recently, I was stuck in traffic and did what most people do in that situation. I sat and took in what was around me as I waited it out. That’s when I noticed a cement mixing truck a few lanes over that was spinning away even as it sat still on the highway. For years, I never knew why they continued to spin, regardless of whether they were moving or in a parked position. It always seemed like such wasted energy. Of course, I learned later that it’s because if the truck’s tumbler stopped rotating, the concrete inside would solidify into a rigid mass and be useless.
That seems to be the way our minds generally work, at least when we’re living our lives unconsciously. Our minds are constantly spinning over and over from one thought to another and back again. It’s as if our ego, which creates its identity in relation to every thought we think, is terrified that it will cease to exist if we stop thinking, even for one moment. Thought is its food, its life force, and it knows that if we stop thinking and open our mind to make space; it will die. To prevent this, our ego keeps us spinning thoughts so fast and with no interruption, that we don’t even notice it anymore. Mental noise and the unconscious living that result from it become our new norm. It’s like listening to a “white noise” machine that makes a low-level sound like static on a TV screen. You’d notice it immediately but in a very short time, your mind would filter it into the background of your awareness. You wouldn’t even notice it anymore or that you’d forgotten what real silence sounds like.
Everyone knows that meditation is a great way to stop the mind and bring clarity into your life. They also know that it serves as a great de-stressor and is overall excellent for your health. What most people don’t know is why that’s so. The most obvious way meditation is healing is that it reduces our cortisol levels by helping to neutralize our anxiety. Lowering cortisol levels is tremendously healing because it redirects much-needed energy for more important body processes and can even help you lose weight. Most importantly, it reduces the brain’s use of glucose.
Glucose is the simple sugar-like substance that our bodies transform from our food into energy. Every system, organ and function in the body requires glucose to operate. Not surprisingly, the brain demands more glucose than any other organ or organ system. That’s because it performs trillions of bits of information processing every second. From what’s happening inside our bodies to our external environment, it’s constantly evaluating this data. That requires an incomprehensible amount of energy that’s supplied only by glucose. When our minds are constantly spinning with extraneous thoughts, it pulls huge amounts of additional glucose that’s dedicated for other body processes into the brain. The result is weakened organs and systems where we eventually develop health problems.
“In the absence of extraneous thought, we create open space and clarity in our minds where the clutter used to be. When we don’t clear our minds, we risk mental blowout.”
The brain is Central Command for the body. If it says, “I need more glucose STAT”, there isn’t an organ in your body that’s going to argue with that demand. In service of the leader that’s in charge of running everything else, it will willingly compromise some of its glucose. When we stop extraneous thought, we stop siphoning off glucose from other parts of our bodies and can initiate healing, which also requires energy.
In the absence of extraneous thought, we create open space and clarity in our minds where the clutter used to be. Without it, we risk a mental blowout. Lacto-fermenting things like yogurt and sauerkraut requires that the jars being used are only filled up to about one inch from the top. This is called “head space” and is the open area where carbon dioxide gas, that’s continuously produced by the growing cultures, will escape and dissipate. If the head space was not there, the gas pressure would build up and eventually blow the top right off the jar.
I meditate every morning to create my head space. Because of this, I go through a day that is not rushed but most importantly; I go into it with the mental space to accommodate the new thoughts this day will generate. If I brought thoughts from yesterday into today, I’d have no head space in my mind to accommodate anything new, my brain would spin away generating tons of excess energy, rob my body of glucose and my top would blow off too, in a health crisis.
This is why I stopped scheduling ½ hour in-office appointments for patients. Although I still conduct brief phone consultations when necessary, for all face-to-face meetings, I see everyone for a full hour because I want to avoid spinning through my day. I also do it to maintain my head space so I can clue into my intuition that allows me to sense a patient’s mood, expression, word choice and other subliminal behaviors that impact health. When I meet patients, I’m not just having a conversation, but conducting a subconscious translation at the same time, and that requires the acute awareness that comes from real head space.
If you’ve never meditated before, here’s a simple but powerful exercise. When you’re not in a hectic environment, stop what you’re doing and mentally ask yourself this question: What is my next thought going to be? Then, see what happens. Do it now. What happened immediately after you asked the question? Nothing. You stopped and waited in the silence. You could simply “be” without your mind spinning. That’s head space. When we can generate that state for longer periods of time, we can return much needed healing energy back to our bodies and peace to our lives.
Dr. Habib Sadeghi is the co-founder of Be Hive of Healing, an integrative health center based in Los Angeles. He provides revolutionary healing protocols in integrative, osteopathic, anthroposophical, environmental, and family medicine, as well as clinical pharmacology. He served as an attending Physician and Clinical Facilitator at UCLA-SM Medical Center and is currently a Clinical Instructor of Family Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences. Dr. Sadeghi is a regular contributor to Goop, CNN, BBC News and TEDx. He is the author of Within: A Spiritual Awakening to Love & Weight Loss, as well as the foreword to Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good, and is the publisher of the health and well-being journal, MegaZEN.
Dr. Sherry Sami is the founder of Happy Kids Dental Planet in Agoura Hills, CA. Holding a Master’s degree in spiritual psychology, Dr. Sami works extensively with parents and children to identify and resolve psychosomatic barriers to healing orofacial, cranial, respiratory and myofunctional disorders. Much of her work is based on heart-centered communication skills, which she teaches in various workshops, including Conscious Uncoupling for intimate partners choosing to complete their relationship in a healthy way, Couples Transformational Intensive for those wishing to strengthen their connection, and Conscious Parenting to help parents improve their relationships with their children. She also conducts educational seminars for medical students at Western University of Health Sciences to improve doctor/patient communication and help keep the heart in healthcare. Dr. Sami is also co-founder of the Love Button Global Movement, a nonprofit organization that promotes random acts of loving kindness.