Do You Engage in Mental Jabbering?

For about a year now, it seems everywhere I turn I hear people talking about the power of mindfulness. To me, mindfulness means paying attention to your experience from moment to moment. Because I keep hearing and reading about this topic, I figure the universe is telling me this should be my development focus right now—and I agree.

In his book The Inner Game of Tennis, author W. Timothy Gallwey states “Quieting the mind means less thinking, calculating, judging, worrying, fearing, hoping, trying, regretting, controlling, jittering, or distracting.” This familiar spinning, spinning, spinning of thoughts is the opposite of mindfulness. In fact, to quote Phil Jackson, former coach of the Chicago Bulls, you might call it jabbering.

As I’ve started to pay more attention to my thinking, I’ve found that I definitely engage in mental jabbering. Most of my jabber involves things that either happened in the past or may happen in the future. I must admit that when my mind jabbers I’m not paying attention to my experience from moment to moment.

As a coach, I’ve begun to notice that my clients also engage in lots of jabber. When I sense this is happening, I ask them questions to bring them into the present moment—which in reality is the only one they have.

So what’s the big deal about us calculating, planning, or reminiscing much of the time? When we jabber, we are missing many of the moments we have to live. We are on automatic pilot and not fully aware of what we are doing or experiencing. We eat without really tasting, look without really seeing, listen without really hearing, and touch without really feeling. In other words, we miss out on the texture of our life experience.

To stop jabbering means to quiet the mind and strive to be in the here and now. It means to gently bring yourself—or possibly a coaching client—back to the present moment. Of course, that’s easier said than done. So here’s some incentive.

When we quiet our mind, we are better able to:

  • Fully experience the actual moment in front of us
  • Maintain focus
  • Manage our reactions/responses
  • Reduce stress and anxiety

The list of the benefits of mindfulness could go on and on.

I’d like to encourage you to spend some time noticing where your thoughts are. Their location may just surprise you!

About the Author

Joanne Maynard headshot.jpegJoanne Maynard is a senior coach with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team.  Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services.

3 thoughts on “Do You Engage in Mental Jabbering?

  1. Hi there

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post! I see what you mean when you say ‘jabbering’, but I’d question using that term as to me it doesn’t seem to help conjure up a mindful attitude. It seems judgemental, as if we’re judging ourselves for ‘jabbering’ rather than seeing the thought streams as a natural behaviour of the mind. Surely mindfulness is more about cultivating the capacity to observe and notice patterns in the thoughts rather than trying to actually get rid of ‘jabbering’ (which we can never do). It’s the ability to notice the patterns, not engage, and let the thoughts pass that’s the essence of mindfulness. Those thoughts are giving messages in their own way, as are the feelings and bodily sensations that may be associated with them. It’s the not engaging, the standing back and the choosing which is the point. ‘Jabbering’ never ends. The cutting across what may seem like ‘interference noise’ to be able to observe it and make choices – that’s the key…

    Kind regards

    Alison

  2. Thanks so much Alison for your thought provoking reply. You are very wise! I just resonated with paying attention to all our thoughts good and bad and just felt jabbering was a fun way of thinking about that steady stream of thoughts.

  3. Hi again

    I like the idea of having a fun way of thinking about those thoughts and ‘inner voices’. My own mental image of all this is that the different thought streams and voices are like a bunch of visiting furry animals, all with their own character and all with their own ‘tone’. They come in, express an opinion, sit down a while, and then leave. Maybe it’s just me, but thinking of them that way means I have more compassion for them, and am able to ‘be’ with my thoughts and feelings in a more patient way. If ‘jabbering’ does it for you, that’s fine by me! Just thought I’d connect to share my views, though, because some people out there may have the impression the point of mindfulness is to go blank thought-wise. That might lead them to become disillusioned with mindfulness when the ‘jabbering’ inevitably continues. Wouldn’t that be a pity?

    Anyhow, thanks for getting back, and look forward to saying hello again!

    Alison

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