A cacophony of words, will, wants and whines.
And yet, willing the words to stop doesn’t work
For many years, I’ve had a strong meditation practice of connecting to source each morning to get guidance for my day. And this morning I couldn’t hear the guidance over my own inner voice. My mind was in a crazy loop of thoughts, worries, and to do’s.
This is a common challenge for clients that I work with who are experiencing a lot of anxiety in their lives and are trying to start a meditation practice. So… as always, using my own recommendations on myself…
Here is what I do and recommend:
If you can’t stop thinking and your subconscious won’t stop “yelling” at you. Let it out. Spend some time dumping all your thoughts onto paper so your subconscious feels “heard” and can simmer down to let you meditate.
Do a mantra-based meditation
Focus your mind on specific words you want to imbue your body with instead of the mind chatter. Wayne Dyer recommended the mantra meditation from “The Life and Teaching of the Masters of the Far East (Vol 3, Ch 15): “Be still! And know I am God.” Or if connecting to your own divinity feels uncomfortable, try instead: “Be still! And know I am love.” Brendon Burchard recommends repeating “Release” as a mantra. Drown out the words you don’t want to be hearing with something else that you do and take back command of your body and mind.
Move the words, feelings, and thoughts through your body: Go for a fast walk or a run, dance like nobody’s watching, do some heated yoga, or lift some heavy weights. Move with intention and your breath to clear the cacophony of thoughts out of your mind.
According to research shared in the British Journal of Sports Medicine and in the Journal of Experimental Biology, cardiovascular activity of moderate level for at least 20 minutes increases endocannabinoids, the neurotransmitter that can activate cannabinoid receptors in the brain resulting in sedation, feelings of well being and ease, pain relief, euphoria, optimism, connection, internal self-reflection, hopefulness, and even trance-states. All beneficial experiences to support a meditation practice, I’d say!
Psychologist Kelly McGonigal, in her new book, The Joy of Movement, shares that engaging your core directly calms anxiety. The brain reads signals from the body as “I got this. I’m in control.” What are your looping thoughts? Fear? Uncertainty? Self-deprecation? You might need some core activation. What’s good for core engagement? Weight lifting, yoga, dance, and straight-up sit-ups and crunchtes!
She also shares that when lifting weights the brain thinks “I am strong, I am powerful, and I have strength.” When looping thoughts happen during meditation that are questioning your capacity and worthiness, bringing some power into your practice can “lift those” thoughts right out of your head!
And dance and yoga results in feelings of joy with the full body expansion and heart-opening postures. This makes me also think of Amy Cuddy’s research on Power Poses which yoga and dance definitely exemplify. We can always benefit from more heart connection during meditation. Connecting with our heart is a great way to ground ourselves and yoga before meditating will do just that!
And with running, the mind experiences: “I am free. I am fast. I am going somewhere,” which directly counters feelings of “stuckedness” propelling over-thinking during meditation.
So what is your experience of mind chatter during meditation that you aren’t able to shut off and what physical activity do you need to do to reverse it? Do you need to feel in control, do you need to feel powerful, do you need to feel free and fast? And when in doubt, I recommend a CorePower Yoga Sculpt class – that’s what I did today – gets in cardio, weight lifting and yoga to ensure you are tackling mind chatter from all directions! It worked like a charm! I came home after my movement and was able to drop-in, meditate and connect.
Meditation is a practice so when starting out it can be more challenging to allow the thoughts to come in and simply float away versus getting fixated on them. Practice makes for more practice. We don’t expect to get “ripped” by going to the gym once and so we also can’t expect to feel comfortable not attaching to our thoughts from the get go. Practice. Practice.
For the Sensitive
And if you are still struggling releasing over-thinking during meditation or trying to ground and these practices aren’t touching your brain chatter, you might explore whether the thoughts are actually your own or whether you have absorbed the negative thinking or anxiety from someone/something else.
If you are very sensitive, you may find too a challenge with grounding and clearing your mind if a lot of people are thinking about you or even just a lot of intensity from one or a few people. You might be experiencing almost an “attack” on your system as others think about you. This can be especially true if the thoughts are more negative.
How about you? What works to help settle your thoughts during meditation?
And for more on how to calm anxiety, overthinking, and support neurotransmitter production, sign-up for my free webinar on 6 Food Keys to supporting mood and brain health!