I spend a lot of time in my head. If you are like me, it is noisy there. More a committee than a voice that makes sense a lot of the time. Often quite harsh. I started Yoga about 9 years ago. The point, I was told, was to still the waves of the mind. Basically, to ask the committee to take a tea break every now and then. I like tea breaks. This sounded like something for me.
I came across the metaphor of the Elephant and the Rider in one of my favourite books of all time. Jonathan Haidt's 'The Happiness Hypothesis' is a wander through the history and current thinking around well being. Other books like 'Thinking Fast and Slow' by Daniel Kahneman, 'Blink' by Malcolm Gladwell, 'Focus' by Daniel Goleman, and 'The Art of Learning' by Josh Waitzkin all touch on a similar idea.
We tend to identify with our Rider. The Rider tells the story of our lives and explains our behaviour. The truth is that it is really the Elephant that does the doing. The Elephant may go right or left at the command of the Rider most of the time, giving the illusion that the Rider is in control. The Elephant just wants to do the same thing on those occasions. The Rider has no ability to make the Elephant do something it doesn't want to do.
The Rider can, with patience, train the Elephant. The Elephant is in fact far more powerful and intelligent than the Rider. The Rider is slow, deliberate, and forgetful. The Elephant embeds knowledge. To change what the Elephant knows and does takes time, patience, and attention. Rather than justifying or excusing your Elephant, the first task is to observe it. To understand it. To not take the credit, or the blame, for everything it does. Realising that your Elephant actually understands a lot you don't. Then you can tweak and teach, with humility.
Step one is realizing you are not the committee in your head. Give them a tea break.