Humans spend approximately half of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they are doing right now. It was discovered that their minds wandered 50% of the time from their current task and that they were significantly less happy when they couldn’t stop thinking rather than when they were focused on the present.
This is most likely due to the mind’s constant production of noise and gibberish—worries, memories, reenactments of how things should have been, and future projections.
If you feel like your mind is wandering (due to rumination, anxiety, low-grade panic, and so on), here are some techniques that are proven by both, history and science, to be effective in bringing you back to being present.
Recognize that You Can’t Stop Thinking
“Listen to the silence; it has so much to say.”
It is natural for humans to have thoughts.
It indicates that your brain is healthy and functional. We don’t even need to get rid of our thoughts. Why?
Our mind thinks in the same way that our eyes see, our ears hear, our nose smells, our tongue tastes, and our body feels.
You must destroy the corresponding organ if you want to eliminate a specific function.
The underlying message is straightforward: Unless one is dead, no one has a mind without thoughts.
I was attempting the impossible when I tried to stop my mind. I can’t stop my eyes from seeing and my ears from hearing, and I can’t stop my mind from thinking.
Don’t Pass Judgment on Yourself
A mind that is quiet is not the one that is devoid of thoughts. Rather, it is a choice you make to embrace all of your feelings and thoughts and be present in the moment.
The irony is that your mind will calm down if you embrace all of your thoughts without judgment, no matter how annoying they are.
As a result, don’t fight your thoughts when you can’t stop thinking. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you think too much.
You are causing yourself unnecessary stress and anxiety if you do so.
Your mind’s core function is thinking, and whether you like it or not, you’ll hear the mental dialogue.
If you try to fight it, you will only be resisting the inevitable thoughts when you can’t stop thinking.
The more you fight against your thoughts, the louder they become.
The key to stillness is to be nonjudgmental.
Allow yourself to be at ease with whatever thoughts you have, and true inner peace will follow.
Distinguish Between Analysis and Action – How To Be Present at the Moment
Hiking is one of my favorite activities. I don’t plan ahead when I get to the bottom of the mountain.
I concentrate solely on the individual steps that will lead me to my goal.
I enjoy the scenery and the smell of fresh air with each step I take and each passing moment to be peaceful.
It’s a fantastic way to bring yourself into the present moment and be peaceful.
I’m able to do this because I’ve planned ahead of time where I want to go, how to get there, and what I want to accomplish on my hike.
This allows me to clear my mind of all analytical thinking—both past and future—and focus more easily on the present.
When you analyze something, you’re always thinking about the past and the future.
This takes you away from the present moment’s beauty.
Challenges and unexpected events are unavoidable.
However, when you deal with them with a specific goal in mind, your thoughts stay in the present rather than thinking ahead, worrying, and causing yourself unnecessary stress.
Distinguish between analytical and practical thinking when you can’t stop thinking. Make a plan ahead of time. Before you begin, make sure you know exactly what you’re going to do. Have a clear goal in mind and a plan for how you’ll get there.
Pay Attention To What You’re Doing
“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh
Do you practice meditation?
When it comes to meditation, you need to be focused on the present moment.
It could be a mantra or your breath. This prevents your thoughts from wandering.
Your mind, as the Buddha said, is a dancing monkey.
It is constantly on the lookout for ways to get away from the present when it can’t stop thinking.
A focus, on the other hand, is like an oak tree that keeps you grounded in the present.
A rubber band is tied between the two to keep the monkey from escaping. The band snaps the monkey back to the tree’s trunk whenever he gets too far away.
How do you go about doing this in your day-to-day life? Many of our daily tasks, unlike meditation, are automatic. While you try to be present, it’s difficult to concentrate on things like going to the bathroom, showering, eating, and walking.
This is because, in order to conserve energy, your brain automates these tasks.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but now that your mind has been freed up, it begins to sprout meaningless thoughts.
It begins to stray into the past and future.
Fortunately, you can increase your focus and be present by employing the following strategies:
Remind Yourself of What You’re Doing Right Now
Self-talk can help you bring your attention back to being present in the moment.
When washing your hands, for example, repeat in your head, “I am washing my hands.”
“I’m getting ready to wash my hands.” “I’m getting ready to wash my hands.”
Concentrate on How To Be Peaceful
“Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.”
― Jon Kabat-Zinn
Return your focus to your body and away from your mind to be present and peaceful.
To be present, Observe how water trickles down the surface of your skin when you’re taking a shower, for example.
Take a deep breath and inhale the soap’s scent.
Take advantage of the warmth. Listen to the sound of water flowing when you can’t stop thinking.
Change the Way You Do Things
Make things more difficult.
Everything is done in slow motion, which is a classic Zen master technique.
This may appear to be simple, but it is not.
It will be difficult for you to do things the way you want to be peaceful.
As a result, instead of acting on autopilot, you are forced to act consciously.
If You Find Yourself Drifting Away from Your Focus, Come Back and Be Peaceful
Global statistics have shown that 200-500 million people meditate globally.
Let’s return to the oak tree-monkey comparison.
Your focus may be shaky at the start of your practice while you try to be present.
It looks more like a sapling than an oak tree, and a monkey can easily uproot it.
Don’t give up. Another tree should be planted.
When your mind wanders away from your focus, bring your awareness back to it.
That tree, too, will most likely be uprooted.
However, each tree you plant will have deeper roots and a stronger trunk than the one before it.
Similarly, to be peaceful, each time you return to the present moment, your focus improves.
In this sense, mental turbulence is beneficial. It is an opportunity for you to become more aware of your presence and to strengthen it.
It’s possible that you won’t be able to do it at first, but it will eventually happen. You’ll still be you on the outside. On the inside, though, you will be peaceful.
Change how you think about your thoughts and how you cope with them. It only takes a little dedication and practice. This is the first step in the process. There is only one option…begin.