Meditation is an ancient technique of self control in the form of training one’s mind. For over-thinkers, meditation is often off the table as a method of stress relief. However, because meditation is so beneficial when it comes to reducing anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and numerous other symptoms of uncontrolled stress, learning how to occasionally meditate may be life-altering. Every person should attempt to meditate at least once in their lifetime, even if you come out of your experience going, “yeah. Never doing that again.”
Over-thinkers often turn to meditation as a way to self-reflect. Stress is something we bring upon ourselves, as a sort of reaction to the changes occurring in our life, therefore, we are the only ones with the capacity to minimize the effects of change. When it comes to meditation, nobody can really tell you how, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve.
First, set your goals. What do you want out of your meditation? You should have one or two goals that are easy to meet, however, it does not matter weather you meet them or not. Meditation is meant to decrease your stress, so setting a goal for meditation is simply a way to guide your mind in the right direction. Here are some good goals:
- lowering your heart rate
- inducing sleep
- clearing your mind
- understanding an event/dilemma
By creating a purpose for your meditation, you are setting yourself up for success. You now have a reason to meditate, which means while you are meditating, you will not be doubting its’ effectiveness, anxious about wasting time, or worrying that you are doing it wrong. Instead, you are going into a state of relaxation with a positive mindset, which makes all the difference.
Your next step is to decide how you should meditate. Though there are many ways to meditate, we are looking for options that are useful for people with active minds. Here are some overly simplified examples of different styles of meditation, altered for the common over-thinker:
- Guided Meditation: Youtube is a great place for first-time meditators. Many therapists post imagery videos with voice-overs that guide the listener in breathing and concentration. Guided meditation is a perfect first experience, especially if one of your goals is to lower your heart rate, induce sleep, or clear your mind. Here is my favorite video. Guided meditation gives you step-by-step instructions, including where you should be, how to position your body, how to breathe, and what you should be thinking/not thinking about. *Tip: Add guided meditation to your bedtime routine.
- Timed Silence: For beginners, 10-20 minutes of timed silence is a good starting point. Many times over-thinkers will lay awake for hours, thinking, before they are able to fall asleep. Timed silence is great for self-reflection, clearing your mind, and understanding an event/dilemma. First, find a comfortable space where you are able to avoid interruptions and noise. Next, take a moment to find a position where you can sit/lay comfortably for your allotted time. Then, set a timer, purely to avoid time as a distraction. Going into meditation, spend a couple of minutes deep breathing: 7 seconds in, 7 seconds out. As you begin to relax, your timed silence can be spent reaching your goal. Though you have a goal, your mind is open to wonder, with minimal control. Eventually, you should either come back to the event/dilemma, or you should come to period of intermittent silence. Once that timer goes off, leave your current problem(s)/dilemma(s) in your meditation zone. After a few sessions, you should stop using a timer and fully immerse yourself into your timed silence. *Tip: earplugs do wonders for your time of silence.
- Sound Meditation: By using music or a repeated phrase as a source of concentration, you are essentially distracting your conscious mind – your cognitive thinking and doing – and opening the door for your affective feeling. You can use any music that relaxes you, but it should be “low and slow”, avoiding upbeat and heavy-bass songs. If you are using a phrase or a mantra, use something meaningful to you. Here are some examples of Mantras. Use the Timed Silence process as a guide, but instead of earplugs and silence, use headphones, or whatever is most comfortable, and other noises that allow you to focus on reaching your goal. This is the one form of meditation that allows you to control your thoughts to achieve clarity and focus. *Tip: avoid listening to music off of your phone, as to not be interrupted by the outside world.
Meditation is tricky, especially for us. The bad news is that you might have to do a little bit of googling to feel confident before you make your first attempt at meditating. The good news? As long as meditating helps you in some way, you are doing it right.