In this article and video, you’re going to learn how to stop thinking too much using proven methods that are thousands of years old.
There is a high correlation between happiness and a quiet mind. You may know this already, but how do you quiet your mind? It can be quite tricky.
This isn’t just a “how to meditate” tutorial. There are a few time tested ways to interrupt the persistent and seemingly endless chatter and quiet your mind considerably. They don’t necessarily involve sitting in a cross legged position and all that jazz. In fact, they can be integrated into everyday life.
Why are we thinking so much all the time? Why is it that we just can’t stop thinking?
In general, we are addicted to thinking. Many people who have tried to sit down and meditate find out just how tricky and elusive thoughts are. Thoughts will do anything to suck you into them and follow them to even more and more thoughts.
When you do manage to quiet the mind a little bit, your thoughts may become more appealing and irresistible. Your brain is like a spoiled child. It does not want to break long held patterns, so it will tempt you out of that process and you’ll just continue to think too much.
How do you stop thinking so much? Continually interrupt these thinking patterns.
The nature of my daily life tends to be quite cerebral. This can lead to too much thinking, and that creates a momentum. Here’s one thing that I do that really helps to break down that momentum so that I’m not thinking so much and getting lost in thought.
Whenever I walk anywhere, I tend to use a mantra (repeated word or phrase) to interrupt the stream of thought. In this case, the mantra is usually devotional because I personally find them to have a much more powerful effect. That may be fine for you, or you might respond better to secular mantras.
The mantra repeats itself silently over and over again in rhythm with the walking. It does so at a desirable melody, but monotone can work just as well.
I breathe through the nose the whole time unless I’m actually articulating the words. In that case, I’m just breathing through the nose on the inhale.
If you try this, you will likely notice a lot of chatter distracting you from the mantra. How do you stop this thinking? You don’t.
This is just a simple mindfulness meditation that is integrated into a typically mundane activity such as walking. When practicing mindfulness, you don’t stop thoughts. You make friends with them.
If you’re familiar with mindfulness, you know that it involves watching the thoughts impartially. Your thinking is not outside the present moment. Thoughts are processes happening within the present moment. Take note of the thoughts, without identifying with them, and go back to the mantra. Don’t just overpower the thoughts with the mantra.
If there’s a body sensation associated with the thought, bring your attention to that and hang with it. Do the same with tension that you do with thoughts. Let go of and release whatever you can as you go along.
You may notice that some thoughts will start to dissipate as you take note of them without following them. Others will be more “sticky”. Just keep repeating the mantra and the mindfulness practice. The momentum will build.
Speaking of momentum, you want to do things like this multiple times per day. Even if it’s only for a minute, it will go a long way toward quieting the mind and stopping it from thinking too much.
One important thing to remember: The bulk of the problem is not that you’re thinking so much. You’re getting lost in the thoughts because of attachment to these thoughts. Mindfulness loosens the grip. This loosening tends to quiet the mind in the long term.
Examples of activities you can do:
Deep sincere prayer
Reading of spiritual text
Singing of spiritual songs
Brief meditations plus a longer practice that you do every day at a special time
Grounding exercises that bring your awareness back into your body (visualizations, communion with nature, Hatha Yoga)
The more you do these types of things, the less of a grip your thoughts will have on you. Make it a habit to integrate calming activities and mindfulness into daily life. Slip it into those 20 seconds inside the elevator or in the grocery line.
Interrupt the habits of mind whenever possible, and you will learn experientially how to stop thinking too much. Try it, and you’ll see that this is an excellent way to quiet your mind in the long run. Stop overthinking and enjoy life. At least you know how to heed that advice now.
Tom Von Deck is a meditation trainer, speaker and author of Oceanic Mind – The Deeper Meditation Training Course. Tom Specializes in making meditation a much easier and more customized process for busy and non-busy people from all backgrounds and paths. He is the Mackdaddy of The Deeper Meditation Blog and DeeperMeditation.net.
Are you ready to stop thinking so much? Share your stories in the comments below. Also, please share what YOU do to quiet your mind.