Why Meditation Isn't the Answer to Overthinking

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This is a guest post by Samy Felice.You’ve been meditating daily for the last week, month, or maybe even years. In moments it's blissful, otherwise it can be frustrating, at least at first. Thoughts come and go - but you’re now aware of your thoughts and begin to sense a deeper dimension of consciousness. 

But not too long afterwards your meditation, your mind goes back to its habitual patterns of thinking, churning negative thoughts in different periods of the day. And you can easily become tangled in them and lose your state of awareness.Is there a way to make this happen less frequently, so that you can experience your life with greater presence?

One of the reasons why we overthink and what we can do about it

Meditating will bring awareness into your being and thoughts. And done consistently, it will allow you to begin to understand how your mind works. But it won’t solve your patterns of overthinking. There’s an issue that lies behind most of overthinking that isn’t tied to meditation.It’s tied to the way we breathe.When we only breathe from the neck up, we’re likelier to stay stuck in your head. When you don’t feel your belly rising with you; an act of letting go if you will, it’s easier to get lost in your thoughts. If we were to change the way we breathe, we would change every single living moment of our lives into something far deeper. Simple reminders to deepen our breathing can help. But for many of us, our muscles around our chest, neck and belly are so tight that this alone won’t work.

You’ve been conditioned to not breathe properly

So many things in our society, seem to be created to perpetuate a castrated way of breathing. From the ties we wear to the belts we tighten every Monday-Friday, to the monitor displays that force us to bend our necks down, most of us aren’t breathing deeply! But that’s just part of the reason why you’re not mindful.You many not be breathing properly because:

  • You sit down too much
  • You have poor air quality in the house
  • You clench your jaw often
  • You exhale too soon
  • You do far too many pushing exercises and not enough pulling movements at the gym
  • You pay too much attention to your breathing (it’s something you’re meant to let happen)
  • You have an allergy you haven’t addressed
  • You’ve built the habit

Begin a daily breathing practice, expressing more of your thoughts, and eating healthier

The deeper we breathe, the more of life we’re accepting.Yet you have all these ideas swirling in your skull, and maybe what you need is more good conversations? Social isolation can quickly make us feel like we’re rattling our cage. And even the most meditative practices won’t stop our overthinking if we’re not connecting with other people. Another good way to express our thoughts is to begin writing a morning journal.In short, speak with people you can trust often, and write down your thoughts. These practices can give you a sense of relief that allows you to let go and breathe more deeply. Otherwise, maybe the foods you’re eating are making you feel sluggish and thus impacting your breathing. Or they’re making you feel too anxious and causing you to breathe rapidly.When you can master the art of subconsciously breathing properly, even when you’re in the midst of an attention-consuming activity, you would have reached a new state of connectedness and mindfulness. It’s far harder to take your mind seriously when you’re breathing deeply. It’s almost as if everything on your mind takes a back seat. While getting there takes time and practice, it just goes to show that meditation in and of itself isn’t a silver bullet.

When you still get stuck overthinking

Remind yourself to breathe deeply by focus on your belly button rising and falling. And if you ever find yourself lost in a tangle of thoughts, refer to this quote:“You will have bad thoughts. The key is never to fight them. They are your friends. Accept them just like a loving parent would to their misbehaving child and let go so you can breathe deeply. Treat your mind with love, and love will flow and emanate from you, one breath at a time.”How do you deal with overthinking? Have you made any changes in your lifestyle that have allowed you to breathe more deeply?About SamyModern workplaceSamy Felice is a Copywriter, who is passionate about ideas and research related to leading a meaningful and productive life. His free book explores ways people can improve their daily productivity and level of gratitude.  Image: Isabell Winter