Overthinking is a problem western society faces every dayThe growing popularity of things like Mediation and Eckhart Tolle-type books, just shows how many people are having this particular problem. The Problem of OverthinkingI used to have this problem, but not anymore.
I used to always be thinking of things that were outside of my control or present reality – whether it was dreaming of my successful future, worrying about an upcoming test, playing out scenarios in my head of romantic things I would say to my crush.
And to combat this problem, the number 1 tool that helped me was Meditation.
I remember why I first started getting into meditation. EVERYONE around me had opinions on what was the right or wrong thing to do.
I remember being in class, and I would hear all of these conflicting opinions on the “correct” way to live life. I remember people saying to me “You need to do this, and this, followed by this.”
It all got really mind bottling. At this point in time, I was only 16 and I was still kind of in my “listen to everyone else except for me” stage. Meditation is something anybody can learn, it’s not rocket science.
And then I was introduced to the topic of Meditation
Now, we gotta remember that I was 16 years old at this point. A 16-year-old who doesn’t know anyone at all that does mediation.
This was something completely new to me and I was kind of scared to start it, thinking of how others might judge me if they found out.
With all that being said, I still gave it a shot.
So I did some research on mediation, and the benefits that came with it looked perfect. I mean, who wouldn’t want the following things:
Increases your attention span
Improves functioning of your brain
Apparently can slow down the aging
And so I dove right into it. For the first 2 weeks, I didn’t really notice a change in anything particular. I still didn’t really know the “How-to” of mediation. Do you listen to music? Do you lie down? Do you cross your legs like the yoga people and repeat mantras to yourself?
But after 2 weeks, something happened.
I remember specifically sitting down in the corner of my room at 6 am, listening to meditation music with only the light of the laptop to brighten my room.
And I remember heavily stressing about a Physics test that was coming up.
Then all of a sudden, a thought popped into my head.
The only things that I have to work with are right in front of me
In simpler terms, I can worry all that I want about the test, I can daydream as much as I want about my future success, or I can replay the scenario of giving my crush flowers in front of the whole lecture room – but at that point in time, I’m sitting in my bedroom.
I’m sitting in a room with a couch that I called my bed and a $150 laptop that I bought off these dudes who I’m 99% sure had stolen it.
What I’m trying to say is that I can think as much as I want about the future or the past, but at THIS point in time – I’m sitting in my room and that’s all I have to work with.
And that’s when I learned the importance of staying present in the moment.
And if we’re talking from a pragmatic standpoint, holy damn is meditation hard. It sounds really easy on paper, I mean just sit and don’t think about anything for 5 minutes.
But then you get into it, and 15 seconds in you’re already thinking about what you’re going to have for dinner and the outfit that you’re going to wear for the day.
And since quality work requires deep focus, if meditation can help you focus on one thing for a period of time – whether it’s work, practicing piano, or writing articles – then no doubt meditation will benefit your ability to cultivate these skills.
So with that being said, one of the best tips that I can give you if you’re having trouble with overthinking is to try out meditation.
I recommend doing it in the morning, but the most important thing is to make a time that works for you. I also recommend doing it for 5 minutes, to begin with, just so you can make it a daily habit. Then once it’s a habit, try upping the amount of time you meditate for.
Also, there’s a lot of meditation “how-to” information on the internet, and it can be a hassle to sort through it all and make a decision on who to listen to. The 1 tip that almost every “meditation pro” says is to focus on your breathing. Just breathe slow and deep, and put all your attention on the way that your body feels as you’re breathing.
And just to solidify the legit-ness of meditation, here’s a quote from Mr. Hugh Jackman himself:
Meditation is all about the pursuit of nothingness. It’s like the ultimate rest. It’s better than the best sleep you’ve ever had. It’s a quieting of the mind. It sharpens everything, especially your appreciation of your surroundings. It keeps life fresh.
The second tip I can give you is to just practice more things that take your mind off of the future and past and focuses on the present.
There are many activities that encourage this type of thinking: Meditation, reading, playing a board game, etc. But it’s important to find an activity you love that forces you into the present moment, where time just seems to fly by.
This state of present awareness is called “Flow State”, and there’s a great book on it by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. He talks about how certain activities can encourage a flow state, but the activity is dependent on the person.
And the ultimate, super-duper mega last tip that I can give you is to not judge yourself.
You’re not going to wake up tomorrow and be the ultimate guru meditation presence master. It’s similar to people starting a new diet or going to the gym, you’re not going to automatically have these perfect healthy habits that someone with experience has. Developing these habits takes time and patience, so all that’s left is for you to do your part and then give it time to work its magic.