There’s a lot of talk about mindfulness in the media lately. It’s a fancy word for being present. You will achieve this by controlling your racing thoughts.

Meditation is not just sitting Indian style with your hands up. Meditation can be defined as taking time for yourself with conscious awareness that you are actually relaxing. Maybe you shop, read, or watch TV to wind down.

Most people don’t realize this, but smoking and drinking are more examples of habits often used as a meditative practice. The act of bringing your hands to your mouth is very relaxing. When you are stressed, you usually go to the same behaviors that calm you down, without much conscious awareness of what you are doing.

The problem with this is that these are still stimulating behaviors, which is the opposite of what you want to do. You get temporary relief, but I analogize it like this. Imagine the water was running on your sink but the drain stopper is plugged in. You can shut off the water but until you pull out the drain stopper, the water will overflow as soon as life starts again.

Understanding that the examples above are a means to an end, should indicate to you that you can substitute those methods for a healthier alternative that’s more effective.

You are supposed to have an active mind, but you’re also supposed to have a quiet mind when you want to. Just like we don’t train our chest without our back, your mind’s ability to shut off thought is a muscle too.

How do you shut off thought?

Try this when you are stressed! First, drink that stuff called H20. A large reason for racing thoughts is not enough oxygen to your brain. Next, close your eyes, breathe deep into your belly, and just observe your thoughts without placing any judgment on them. View them as clouds floating by your head. You will realize that they are part of the external world just like the buildings and trees. If you place your tongue to the roof of your mouth, you change your energy circuit.

Try to keep your breathing patterns consistent in terms of seconds in, seconds holding it and seconds out. Breathe in with your nose, hold it in your belly, and out with your mouth.

As Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” Understanding that you are not your mind is a huge part of controlling your thoughts. Your brain is a tool. You are not a slave to your mind.

Here’s a technique to practice to build up this muscle. Pretend someone calls you something derogotary. Then, immediately verbalize out loud a contradictory statement such as “no, I am not [blank]”. Do this a few times, and then repeat that phrase in your head silenty a few times.

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