Yesterday was Mother’s Day, a day to celebrate all the hard work we do as moms.  When I was gearing up to celebrate my first Mother’s Day 7 years ago, I had visions of breakfast in bed, tear-jerking Hallmark cards, and lavish gifts, all orchestrated by my attentive husband who would stop at nothing to show me how greatly he appreciated my mastery of all things maternal.  Sadly, I can’t seem to remember that first Mother’s Day or how much (or how little) appreciation my husband showed.  But I can say that my expectations have lowered significantly in the last 7 years.  These days, I’m just happy if my husband is home for Mother’s Day.

This year Mr. Roller Coaster was indeed home (although I’m not quite sure he remembered it was M-Day).  Because he was home, I was able to get the only other thing I wanted: a massage.  I wanted 90 minutes to myself.  I wanted to clear my head while someone else kneaded all my stress away.  I wanted peace and quiet.  Ironically, what I wanted most for Mother’s Day was to not be a mom for a little while. 

I was early for my appointment, and the receptionist led me to the “relaxation room” to wait for my massage therapist.  She handed me a bottle of water and left me alone in this room where the only sound was waves crashing.  Finally, I had my 90 minutes.  I was free to relax. There were no children calling my name.  There was no computer coaxing me to start that article I need to write.  There was no dinner to be cooked, no to-do lists to procrastinate on, no lesson plans to be planned.  I had nothing to do but sit and breathe and exist.

It took all of about 3 minutes for me to discover that I couldn’t just sit and breathe and exist.  I’m so accustomed to constantly thinking that I had no idea where my pause button was.  I couldn’t turn my brain off!

There I was, sitting in this room of relaxation doing anything but relaxing as I attempted to contain a mountain of random brain vomit.  What would my next blog post be about?  Don’t forget to write those thank you notes.  Did I text what’s her name back?  Remember to add carrots to your shopping list.  Why didn’t I bring a book?  You need to start brainstorming ideas for that article.  What time is it?  Don’t know,  I left my watch at home.  Am I prepared for work tomorrow?  I wonder what the weather will be like this week.

My brain kept going and going.  It wouldn’t be still.  And as I sat there in the relaxation room listening to waves crashing, I realized I was not only incapable of shutting my brain off, but the mere thought of not thinking practically induced an anxiety attack.  Is it possible I have no idea how to completely relax?

I was relieved when my massage therapist called my name and allowed me to leave the non-relaxing relaxation room.  I wish I could say my brain took a nap during the massage, but it didn’t.  Like an elephant in the room, I couldn’t not think about not thinking.  But at least I was able to turn down the volume and allow my body to enjoy the massage.

Plus the experience did lead to the following existential discussion with Mr. Roller Coaster later in the day:

ME: “Are you able to not think?”
MR. RC: “Yes.”
ME: “What do you think about when you’re trying not to think?”
MR. RC: “Nothing.”
ME: “How do you think about nothing?”
MR. RC: “By not thinking.”

Gee, thanks honey.  That was very enlightening.

Are you able to turn your brain off?  If so, how do you do it?

9 Comments on Be Still My Beating Brain

  1. I am the same way, it's almost impossible for me to shut my brain off. I think the only time I can do it is when I feel that everything in my life is completely in order (which is almost never of course).

  2. You haven't heard of Mark Gungor's Nothing box? Youtube Mark Gungor, I think its the "difference between men and women video." You'll enjoy it. 🙂

  3. I definitely can not turn my brain off. But I have learned to think about more calming things, since I definitely like to over think and stress out about everything. I make up stories in my head, like daydreams. About going to Harry Potter Land or the next book I'm going to read, hopefully getting pregnant sometime soon, things like that that make me happy. Hope this helps!

  4. I really think its a mom thing because I can't NOT think about what needs to be done, who needs what or who needs to be somewhere. I've even given up on massages because even they don't help me relax. After the first 15 minutes or so all I can think is "hurry up, I have things to do."

  5. I find that 9 times out of 10 I CAN NOT turn my brain off when I am REALLY TRYING to. Some days I can be extremely tired and ready for bed but cant fall asleep because of my overworked mind. At the gym I try my best to clear my head but most of the time I am simply not successful. You are not the only one! 🙂

    Steph @

  6. My favorite thing – that I miss SO much – was going tanning. Bring on the lectures, I'll argue back, but locking myself in that box for 15-20 minutes 3 times a week was a little slice of Heaven to me. Now that we don't have access to "free" tanning, I try to sub it out with tub time, but that doesn't happen nearly as often as I'd like.

  7. I am glad you were able to get away and at least attempt to relax. But I have the same problem. I am constantly thinking. I drive myself crazy sometimes with how much I think. If my husband and I haven't said something to each other for a couple of mins, and something pops into my head, I have to prep my husband on where I got the thought because apparently my thoughts are so random that he needs a buffer. LOL.

    And it annoys me that our husbands can just turn off their brains. I don't know how they do it.

  8. I do the thing I was taught in theatre school to clear my head before a show. Sit still and take a deep breath. As a thought enters your mind, acknowledge it (I am a dork and always say to myself "I know. I'll get to you in a moment.") and then gently push it away. It doesn't have to go out of your head, but into another corner of your brain to deal with later.

    It usually works for me, but I can never turn off my inner monologue fully! Even if my brain is clear I think, "Wow I did it!" and ruin the effect 😛

  9. OMG I thought I was the only one. My hubby treated me to a spa day for my bday awhile back and I really couldn't enjoy it. I'm so used to constantly being surrounded by someone that it felt so odd to just be alone. As much as I complain I want time to myself, it felt so awkward and uncomfortable, I couldn't really relax. I've always said it was easier to be a man. Life is so easy for them. They're just so able to shut off so much whereas motherhood as truly changed me, for the better and worse haha.

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