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How to Be Present and Peaceful When You Can't Stop Thinking

How to slow the thoughts down and enter a state of peace



1 Move Your Body with the Rhythm of Your Breath


When You Have 2 Minutes:


Breathwork is the perfect tool to use to slow your thinking. Place your hands on your belly and close your eyes. Breathe in deeply through the nose to the count of four, filling your belly with your breath. Breathe out as slowly as you can through the mouth to the count of eight. Continue for 2 minutes and your thoughts will still and you will feel much more present and peaceful.


When You Have 5 Minutes:


Either sitting or standing, bring your arms to your sides. Breathe in deeply through the nose as slowly as you can as you stretch the arms out to the sides and up over your head until your fingertips touch. Exhale as slowly as possible and bring the hands together and down the front of the body and back to your sides. Repeat this movement, flowing fluidly like water, linking your breath with movement.


Next, switch the direction. Bring your hands up along the central axis of the body and up over your head on the inhalation, and stretch the arms out as you allow them to glide slowly back to your sides. Repeat this flow, making your inhalation and exhalation as slow as you can as you glide the arms up and around.


When you have 10-15 Minutes:


When you can’t calm yourself, land into the present moment, and stop thinking, then it is often negative thoughts that are running through your mind. Going from racing thoughts to no thoughts and serenity is too big of a jump for the majority of people on the planet.


You are not alone!


What we need is to stop berating ourselves for not being able to switch off the brain instantly. Instead, we can create a bridge from fast and furious thinking to blissful mindfulness.


This is HOW: get outside and go for a gratitude walk in the fresh air.


Gratitude is scientifically proven to have a profound positive effect. Start repeating in your head, “I am so grateful.”


After two minutes add on what you are grateful for to the end of your statement. Start small and simple. I am so grateful to breathe in the fresh air. I am so grateful to be able to go for a walk. I am so grateful for the heart pumping in my chest. I am so grateful for the sun shining on my face. I am so grateful for the beauty of the tree swaying in the breeze in front of me.


Feel the vibration of thankfulness in your chest; experiencing the emotion in your heart is a critical ingredient in making the practice potent and powerful.


After 7-10 minutes you can check in with how you are feeling. Are you elevated? Now is the time to come to stillness. Lean against a tree. Feel the texture of the bark. Breathe in deep and imagine the roots of the tree deep in the earth. Try to feel grounded to the earth. Or take off your shoes and go walking barefoot through the grass or sand. Feel rooted and connected to the earth.


In a final step become still, close your eyes, and imagine a warm, healing energy flowing up from the earth into your feet, up your legs, torso, fingertips, arms, and out the crown of your head.


As you exhale, visualize a healing lavender energy flowing down from space into the crown of your head and over and through your entire body from the crown of your head to the tips of your toes.


For three to five minutes see the light traveling up from the earth through your body on the inhalation, and down from space through your body and the exhalation.


Do not judge yourself if thoughts arise and pull your attention away. Just return your attention back to the visualization.


Follow these three steps and within just ten to fifteen minutes you will be able to slow or stop your racing thoughts and become calmer and more present.



When You Have 20-60 Minutes:


Allow your body to dive deep into the present moment and become peaceful, present, and blissful by doing yoga, qi gong, or tai chi practice.


There are a wide variety of yoga styles and intensities available so you can find one that suits your level of fitness, personality, and vibration. Some of my personal favorites that I teach are Power Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Fascia Yoga, and Yin Yoga. Power yoga will enable you to get in a total body workout, builds strength and flexibility, and is heat-inducing.


Vinyasa yoga links breath with movement in a fluid flow of yoga asana postures for greater strength, flexibility, balance, and dexterity.


Hatha yoga is more static, calmer, and softer. You hold each posture longer and bring the focus to the movement of the breath in and out of the body in each pose.


Fascia Yoga focuses on a variety of methods to stimulate, stretch, strengthen, and release the entire fascial network in the body to improve flexibility, well-being, stamina, and strength, and relieve pain.


In a yin yoga class, you will hold each posture for between two and seven minutes in order to allow your body to unwind, your fascia to soften and grow more fluid, and your mind to come to stillness. For me, a yin yoga practice is the perfect solution to dive into the present moment and become present and peaceful when you can’t stop thinking.


We are often drawn to that which matches our current state of being and not to that which we need to find more balance, wellness, and peace. Highly competitive, hard-working, driven people will be naturally drawn to power yoga, vinyasa, and other intense yoga styles. They would be better served by a hatha, fascia yoga, or yin yoga class, at least once a week.


Does becoming completely still in Yin Yoga sound counterintuitive to you? Do you feel as though there is too much anxious energy within you to hold a yoga pose for two to seven minutes? Then Yin Yoga is an even better match for you.


Often times racing thoughts that will not still are sparkling wrapping paper we are using to cover up the box of negative emotion(s) underneath. We may say to ourselves and others that we want our thoughts to calm, to feel peaceful and carefree, but it isn’t true.


We fear getting still enough to feel the emotions underneath those racing thoughts.


In a yin yoga practice you are giving yourself space, time, and a place to settle into stillness in a pose, focus on the breath, and allow the body to slowly dissolve pockets and points of tension, trauma, and stored up negative emotion.


Just like ice, these places that are hard, cold, painful, or disturbing begin to gradually melt into water. More fluidity in the body, mind, and spirit returns, and excess energy or emotion that does not serve you can turn from water to steam and evaporate.


Give Yourself Time for Your Meditation Attention to Develop


People underestimate how much time and energy they need to invest in meditation before they can start to achieve mastery.


I personally thought that either you are the gifted, special sort of person who could just settle into a lotus pose, close the eyes, and bliss out into the present moment, or you are not so fortunate.


I judged myself for my racing thoughts and felt defeated when the timer went off and I had spent the entire meditation time with thoughts in my head. My back hurt, my shoulders ached, and all because I couldn’t sit quite right.


In fact, I found sitting with a straight spine for meditation exhausting. I just couldn’t get myself to sit and do my daily practice. I was tired enough. I didn’t want to add on something new that would cause pain and tension so I just did extra yoga asana.


My experience is that it is best to start with guided, spoken meditations lying comfortably on the floor first, and then progress step by step to meditations with more silence and inner work in a seated position.


I found that once I softened the expectations and opted for relaxation-guided meditations to listen to while taking a break lying flat on the floor, I started to look forward to them. I didn’t want to ever miss a daily meditation. My meditation time became addictive because it relaxed, re-energized, and uplifted me too.


So select a spoken guided meditation, get comfy, and try it out.


You can stick with complete guided meditations, or in the next step you can switch to a guided meditation that includes a little bit of time in silence where you can work on being present, peaceful, and focused.


You may want to take it one step further and start meditating in a seated position with a tall spine, stacking shoulders directly over hips, bringing hips higher than the knees, and pulling your chin and bit back to relax the neck.


All of a sudden, whether it be in a few weeks, months, or years, you may be ready for the final, last step, where you progress to just setting a timer and settling into the silence.


Make sure each step in your meditation journey feels low effort and joyful and you will be doing it right.


I find most long-time meditators forget the steps and struggles they went through because all at once it is effortless, as natural as breathing, for them to fall into the NOW and just be totally present and calm. They are so thrilled with their meditations that they want serenity and bliss for everyone else.


Once again, make meditating as enjoyable and easy as possible. Do it every day. And all at once, you will be at your final destination and it won’t matter how long it took you to get there. I promise you.


With great love,

Heather

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