Insecurity, self-doubt, procrastination… Why is it that our most negative thought patterns are often the hardest to quit?
This post is part of an ongoing collaboration with The Chalkboard Mag.
Insecurity, self-doubt, procrastination… Why is it that our most negative thought patterns are often the hardest to quit? We asked Sukey and Elizabeth Novogratz, authors of Just Sit: A Meditation Guidebook For People Who Know They Should But Don’t, to talk with us about this and they recommend meditation. Below, they talk to us about breaking the pattern of addictive thoughts that hold us back by a developing simple meditation practice. Learn to manage emotions better in the day to day…
4 Ways to Beat Addictive Thoughts
MEDITATE TO MANAGE EMOTIONS
Our addiction to instant gratification is a self-control problem. Meditate to self-sooth and manage your emotions. Just the small act of taking a breath, connecting and becoming present slows you down and initiates a delay in the craving for instant gratification. That delay is the difference between responding and reacting, and works to stop the autopilot loop of needing whatever it is we think is going to soothe us in that moment. Practicing meditation teaches us to self-soothe so we don’t rely on a bunch of unhelpful externals.
TAKE NOTE OF BLOCKS
Recognize what’s blocking you from meditation in the first place. Resistance comes in many forms – so pay close attention to your excuses: “I’m too busy… I am too fidgety… My mind won’t slow down… I’ll lose my edge or my creativity or my drive… I’m just not a meditator… I’d rather workout if I have 20 minutes… etc.”
Often we believe our excuses instead of recognizing that they are the mind’s tricky way of sabotaging new and helpful habits. Once we begin to see how our mind operates, then we can create the space to ask ourselves, “Is this true? Is it true I don’t have 15 minutes when I just spent the past hour on Facebook?”
Determine where to place your attention (i.e., how to focus your breath, find an anchor and channel your thoughts). Our mind will wander. That is what the mind does. Don’t even think about stopping your thoughts; that is impossible (unless, of course you are dead). What is great about the swirl of thoughts is that as soon as you notice them, you will realize that you have left your breath or your mantra. As soon as you notice, gently return to the breath or mantra and stay there until the thoughts take over again – which will probably be within seconds.
FEEL THE REAL
Deal with feelings of awkwardness. Most of us feel awkward when we sit for the first few times. That is because it is awkward. We feel vulnerable, self-conscious, weird and exposed (even if no one else can see us). Knowing that this is normal and quite common is usually enough to eliminate the awkwardness.
Here are a few other things that can help:
+ You don’t have to sit in the middle of the floor. You can sit in a chair.
+ Put on some music. Nothing too loud or crazy, but something to keep you company.
+ Use a blanket. This can make you feel cozy and safe, like a baby being swaddled.
+ Download a guided meditation to listen to. It’ll give you something to focus on.
+ Set the timer. This will give you an end point.