I’ve been meditating for a long time, but I still have trouble turning off my mind. Enter my “monkey mind,” the distracting, restless thoughts that keep me from achieving mental peace. Even when I set aside time for silence, a tidal wave of ideas washes me out into a sea of anxieties, fears, and — wait, am I making chicken or fish for supper tonight? Although the idea of quieting the mind and blissing out in meditation sounds fantastic, establishing a meditative state can be difficult for those of us who have overactive thinking. If you are an overthinker, you may have concluded that meditation is not for you. Experts say that successful meditation is feasible even for persons with busy minds.
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Make a regular schedule.
When it comes to slow our minds, practice makes perfect, just like any other excellent habit. Choosing a consistent time of day is a simple step toward teaching your brain when to relax.” The most significant mental health benefits from meditation come from consistent daily practice,” says psychotherapist Haley Neidich, LCSW. Of course, this does not imply that you must force yourself to meditate at 0600 hours every day.
Make a meditative environment.
It’s not easy to get into a meditative state when you’re surrounded by laundry or six feet away from your whining toddler. Your physical surroundings are important, especially in the first phases of your meditation practice. Consider creating a meditation room in your house. It does not have to be large. Perhaps this entails reserving a specific chair, lighting a fragrant candle, or sitting in front of a beloved image. You’ll start to equate this tranquil area with clearing your mind over time.
Participate in group meditation.
Meditation may appear to be a very personal act, but there is surprising power in numbers.” There’s no doubt that meditating with a partner or in a class can intensify your experience,” says Candice Fairoth, a Los Angeles-based breathwork and meditation coach. Making meditation a buddy activity not only helps us get unstuck from our mental loops but also provides accountability that going it alone does not provide.
Virtual meditation is just bringing immersive technology into your practice.
This may appear to be counterintuitive. Isn’t it true that meditating is all about unplugging? Please bear with me on this one. I’ve been using a virtual reality headset to help me focus for years with great success. Strapping the large device to my face and choosing pictures like a serene forest or a sunny beach eliminates any exterior distractions, allowing me to truly quiet my thoughts.
Listen to a recording while meditating.
Don’t turn off the YouTube app just yet! Guided meditations on the tape could be the overthinker’s ticket to contemplative achievement. Listening to a leading voice gives the brain something to focus on, which helps to keep distracting ideas away. Even though a guided journey will not completely calm your thoughts, it is no less useful than silent meditation.
“Guided meditations are extremely effective in getting all of the benefits that one would expect from meditation,” adds Fairoth. “This includes activation of the sympathetic nervous system, anxiety relief, mood enhancement, blood pressure reduction, heart rate reduction, and stress reduction.”
First, do some yoga.
There’s a reason yoga and meditation go together. Coordinating your inhales and exhales with physical actions has been shown to improve mental focus. According to a 2018 study, movement-focused and breath-focused yoga lowered stress markers. A breath-focused practice, in particular, enhanced attention span. Adding movement can also relieve the pressure of merely “being” during meditation.
Begin with some deep breathing exercises.
Controlled breathwork is a powerful tool for mind-stilling. In reality, many meditation methods revolve purely around breathing, with the expectation that mental and emotional benefits will follow. Simply slowing our breath has been shown to relax the nervous system and reduce emotions of anxiousness. Meanwhile, paying attention to your breath provides a consistent focal point during meditation, providing pleasant relief from distracting ideas.
Music improves almost everything, including meditation.
Studies such as this one from 2012 and this one from 2007 suggest that listening to music can train the brain to be more attentive. Some research According to a reliable source, listening to New Age-style music may even slow the pulse rate.
Remember that daydreaming is normal.
Finally, if you’re battling with a monkey mind, it’s important to be gentle with yourself. Beating yourself up isn’t good for your meditative state anyway. The truth is that racing thoughts are very natural.”We live in a world that constantly stimulates our brain and senses, so it’s no surprise we’re having difficulties with this,” Fairoth adds. “I constantly urge my clients not to be too hard on themselves and to remember that it’s not just them, but society as well.”Besides, your definition of successful meditation may differ from the guru-on-a-mountaintop image, and that’s fine.” What meditation looks like needs to be normalized,” adds Neidich. “It is not sitting in a particular position with your palms up.”