We’ve all been troubled by an overactive mind at one time or another. You know, when you let your mind turn over and over your problems, to-do lists, past arguments, mistakes, grudges…. The list goes on and on.
After a while, the constant buzzing of thoughts can become overwhelming and interfere with focus, concentration, sleep, and your ability to enjoy life. What’s worse, over time, the constant stream of thoughts becomes a habit – your way of living. Left unchecked, this not only interferes with your quality of life, but also adversely affects your relationships and even your health.
The good news is that through practice, we can train ourselves to release thoughts and give our minds much needed periods of rest. Immersing yourself in an activity that is interesting to you and requires your full attention is an effective way to rest your overactive mind. Many people do this through hobbies, sports, or spending time with other people. The challenge here is that these activities require significant time, money and/or planning.
A totally free way to release your thoughts that can be done almost anytime, anywhere and for as much or as little free time you have, is meditation. A common misconception about meditation is that the goal is to stop thought. In truth, the point is never to not think. The aim is to not get attached to our thoughts and be dragged by them into a story (of a memory or a line of worry). During meditation we acknowledge our thoughts, then let them go.
Practiced consistently over time, meditation trains our brains to remain focused on what’s happening right now, in the present moment. This enables us to respond more positively to life’s ups and downs and is associated with reduced stress and anxiety, increased concentration, and improved sleep, emotional and physical health.
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