4 Simple Meditations to Stop Overthinking Immediately

simple meditations to stop overthinking
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All of us have experienced that the mind is an incessant chatterbox. We come face-to-face with the loud noises when we’re sitting silently or not being stimulated by technology. Studies show that meditation reduces stress and anxiety, but can it also reduce overthinking?

Meditation helps you stop overthinking by clearing the clutter in your head. Regular practice of meditation teaches the mind to stay mindful throughout the day. Scientific studies too reveal that mindfulness meditation helps you get out of your head and stop overthinking.

Now that you know meditation can be the cure for overthinking let’s talk about four simple practices you can start doing today to help you with it. These techniques have stood the test of time and have been in the Yogic and Buddhist tradition for thousands of years. Let’s see how you can use meditation for overthinking!

Table of Contents

The mechanism of overthinking

We’re all familiar with overthinking. Some of the people who overthink may be suffering from anxiety disorders, but not everyone. The level of overthinking varies from person to person. Some of us do it more intensely and frequently than others.

When we overthink, we’re mostly clinging to resolve an issue we believe is of paramount importance. We feel regretful about the past or vulnerable about the future, and we keep trying to solve our problems in our minds.

One way to think of thoughts is to see them as living beings that rely on our participation to survive. These thought-patterns try to grab our attention by posing themselves as important. When we engage in them and start deliberating, we’re essentially helping them propagate.

How meditation helps with overthinking

Let’s continue with our analogy. These thought-patterns can be seen as psychological parasites that feed on human energy. A thought feeding on your energy means that it has no power without your participation. However, we’re conditioned to participate and drift away with thoughts unconsciously.

That’s where meditation kicks in. It teaches us to be more mindful, giving us a split-second gap between thought and mental action. This gap is more than enough for us to refuse to indulge, which makes the thought powerless.

Scientific studies also tell us that meditation reduces the mind’s constant rambling. According to Science Daily, even a single session of mindfulness meditation can reduce anxiety in people. Another study shows that meditation reduces the size of a region of the brain called the amygdala, which is the “fight or flight” center of the brain. And here’s one more study showing that meditation reduces the amount of cortisol, the stress hormone, in our body.

If you’d like to read in detail about the latest scientific studies revealing the benefits of meditation, make sure to read this article – Does meditation make you happy?

Four meditation practices to stop overthinking

Close your eyes right now, and try to count how many thoughts pass through your head for 30 seconds. You probably won’t be able to count them.  Even if you somehow manage to do it, rest assured that you’ve missed many of them. Mental images arise and disappear, and we don’t even notice.

The way to calm the mind is to train it to stay at a single thought or image. Here, we’ll talk about four different practices to help you tame the mind. I recommend that you pick one or more methods and follow sincerely for at least two months before judging their effectiveness.

1. Using your breath as an anchor

You’ve probably heard of it before. Meditating on the breath is the most popular type of meditation. Millions of people throughout the world practice breath meditation because it’s beneficial. In case you don’t know about it, let’s see how you can meditate on your breath. Here’s how:

  • Sit cross-legged on a mat with your back straight. You can also sit on a chair, just make sure that your back is straight.
  • Put your hands in your lap (or on your thighs if you’re sitting on a chair).
  • Make sure that you’re comfortable. Have a straight back and normal head position, but don’t strain anything.
  • Take a few deep breaths to stabilize the mind.
  • Now, focus your attention on the inhalation and exhalation. You can either concentrate on the sensations in your nostrils or the rising and falling of your belly button.

When you get lost in thoughts – which will happen a lot – simply bring your attention back to your breath. There’s no need to feel bad or anything. Take it as a given that you’ll be meditating for hardly 60 seconds in a 10-minute session. It’s completely okay.

Using it immediately

When you catch yourself overthinking again, start counting your breaths. Say to yourself that you’ll count the next 10, 20, or 30 breaths. However important that thought may be, tell yourself that you’ll first count a certain number of breaths before you get back to whatever you were thinking.

Those thoughts may come back once you’re done counting your breaths, and that’s okay. The objective is not to ward off the thoughts but to learn to shift our attention whenever we desire. Moving your awareness will become easier over time, and you’ll notice the monkey mind will start to follow you gradually.

Thought-patterns can be very captivating. In a moment, we’ll talk about how “important” they are and how you can slowly let go of this irresistible need to indulge. Keep reading.

2. Trataka – fixing your gaze

Your eyes and thoughts are closely interlinked. If your eyeballs are always moving, your mind will also keep wandering. If you were to still your gaze on an object and not move your eyeballs, you wouldn’t be able to think that much. Try it.

The stillness of your eyes is directly proportional to the silence of your mind. There’s a specific yogic practice to perfect your gaze. The method of fixing your gaze on an object is called trataka. I first encountered this method in a book titled A Million Thoughts by Om Swami. Here’s how you practice trataka:

  • Sit in a standard posture for meditation, preferably cross-legged.
  • Light a candle, at a distance of about three feet, in front, of you. You can also keep any other object if you prefer.
  • Make sure that the candle or other object of focus is at your eye-level. You want to keep your head straight and positioned normally while practicing.
  • Watch in unblinking for a minimum of seven minutes. You can gradually increase the duration.
  • During the actual practice, try to be aware of your wandering thoughts and gently bring your mind back to the object.

If you’re not able to keep your eyes open and end up blinking, it’s not a problem, simply be mindful and carry on. Of course, tears will roll down your cheek, but try not to blink. It’s perfectly safe until you stay gentle and don’t go overboard with it. The ability to not blink will improve over time and with practice.

Using it immediately

When you find yourself obsessing about something in your head, pick an object, it can be anything. Then still your gaze at a point on that object. Don’t move your eyes at all. Keep your eyeballs entirely still, and the storm of thoughts will subside. Try it right now and see how a fixed gaze affects your thoughts.

3. Meditating with a mantra

Mantra-based meditation undoubtedly helps you train the mind. Mantras replace thoughts and research shows that they relieve stress and anxiety. They’ve been in the Yogic tradition for thousands of years. You’ll also find mantras in religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, and Jainism.

If you want to learn more about mantra meditation, I highly recommend you read this post on the importance of mantra during meditation. You’ll find everything you need to know about mantras to get started. Rather than rephrasing it all here, I’ll request you to read that article.

Using it immediately

It’s pretty self-explanatory. When you find you’re being bombarded by thoughts, direct your attention toward your chosen mantra and start chanting it. You can decide to chant it for 50 or 100 times and put off thinking for that while.

4. Doing simple tasks mindfully

You must’ve heard of mindful living. You know, the practice where you try to be aware of everything that’s happening, all the time. Maybe you’ve tried it and failed miserably, just like me.

I realized that it’s simply too challenging to maintain mindfulness all the time. So what I do is that I don’t even try to be mindful throughout the day. I’ve chosen simple tasks such as bathing and eating, and I try to be mindful while doing them. I still fail, of course, but it’s a more natural way to try to bring mindfulness into your life without going all in.

So pick a few tasks that you do daily ­– your morning walk, shower, lunch, or anything like that. Now try to do these things mindfully every day.

I’ve seen that if I’m doing something mindfully, I can’t be thinking a thousand other things at the same time. Being mindful of simple tasks is also an excellent way to bring meditation off the cushion.

Also read: Should You Meditate Before or After Shower?

Other helpful tips for overthinking

Let’s talk about some more strategies and perspectives to help you effectively stop overthinking everything.

Let go of the importance

As we’ve said, thoughts are mental parasites that can’t survive without us feeding them energy. They try to appeal to our sense of importance. If you struggle with overthinking – which we all do actually – you know how gripping and crucial a thought can appear to be.

Most of our problems exist because we perceive random thought-patterns and images as our own opinion. Realizing that your thoughts are not entirely yours, can help you see that they’re not as important as they seem. In my experience, learning to see thoughts for what they are – senseless random waves in the ocean of our consciousness – helps us substantially to drop them.

Rule number one is, don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule number two is, it’s all small stuff.

– Robert Eliot

Can you do something about it?

So you argued with your boss, and now you can’t stop thinking about it. What if he fires you? Maybe you shouldn’t have said that much. He did seem kind of pissed off, didn’t he?

When you find yourself thinking about something that’s happened in the past, ask yourself: Can I do something about it? If you can, then jot down what you can do, and go do it. But if there’s nothing you can do about it, why bother thinking?

I know it’s way easier said than done. But this realization – the dichotomy of control as it’s called – is fundamental to a Greek philosophy known as Stoicism. Here’s a quote from Epictetus, a Stoic philosopher, that explains the dichotomy of control:

Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.

– Epictetus, Enchiridion

And here’s an excellent video to get you started. It explains the concept in easy language with its real-life applications:

Set aside some “worry time”

You can even set aside some “worry time” for yourself, say from 5 to 6 in the evening. Whenever you find yourself overthinking outside of that period, you can let go of those thoughts. If the object of your thought seems important, write it down. Sometimes those random ideas do deserve some attention. So write it down, get back to it at 5 PM, and consciously think about it all you want.

Final thoughts

As we’ve said, all of us tend to overthink things. It’s not easy to tame the mind and bring it to a state of peace. But I hope this article was helpful in introducing you to a couple of practices that can be used to learn how the mind works and train it.

If you have any questions regarding any of these practices or would like to share your experience, just leave a comment below, and I’ll be sure to respond.

Good luck and happy meditating 😊

About the author

I was introduced to spiritual practice at the age of 12. I didn't find it intriguing back then, but my curiosity about life has brought me to spirituality again, and I've been reading others' insights and learning from life for over three years. You can read more about me here.

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