Transcending an Overactive Mind


I’ve been thinking a lot about thinking this week.  A lot of people who come to me for assistance have an overactive mental aspect; meaning they cannot shut off their mind.  They go to bed thinking thoughts, they wake up each morning, thinking thoughts, and most have difficulty with meditation due to intrusive thoughts.  Intrusive thoughts are any thoughts we have difficulty purging from the mind.  They recur over and over again.  In psychology, we call these thoughts “rumination” which is a fancy word for repeating thoughts.

Here is an example of how rumination (or an overactive mental state) can be experienced.  Let’s say I’m talking to a friend on the telephone and my friend is telling me about a new idea she has for a business.  Being her friend for a long time, I know she has tried several times to start other businesses, and has not been successful for one reason or another.  I think I’m being helpful by questioning her about whether she thinks she is “ready” and/or what makes “this” idea more tangible than the rest.  Let’s say she listens, but clearly the feeling or energy of the conversation shifts and she is quick to get off the phone with me.  Then, my mind gets to racing.  I might think thoughts like, “I shouldn’t have been so harsh.”  or “What’s wrong with me?  Why didn’t I just offer her unconditional love and support?”  or even “She must hate me now.  I’m sure that’s why she got off the phone with me so quickly!”

These thoughts are like a virus, creeping into my psyche, keeping me from being present in the moment.  They preoccupy my mind, to the point where I might even become short-tempered with my own family because I’m overcome by worry about this other situation.  I may even lose sleep over it, or maybe I experience loss of appetite.  Constant thought requires tremendous amounts of energy.  And thoughts themselves are energy.

The good news is, with some work, we can learn to quell our thoughts and create more presence of mind.  Presence of mind is imperative during times like we find ourselves in at present.  When we create a solid, sacred, still place within, this place (in our mind) becomes our grounding force.  This force can be so powerful that it doesn’t matter what is happening on the outside, on the inside, we know we are safe and secure, and we can feel that sanctity.

In order to create this inner space, we must work towards becoming lucid in our waking state of mind.  This means being conscious that we are conscious.  When we become conscious of our own consciousness, we have transcended the ego part, which is that part of the mind who wants to run away with every idea, thought, belief, or judgement that comes to mind, whether it is true or untrue.

When we can transcend ego thought, we are able to think, yet we are not controlled by out thoughts.  Someone this week offered the following poignant metaphor- “The mind is like a vessel, or ship and we (our consciousness or sentience) are the captain.”  I would take it further and acknowledge that all captains are actually one, projecting ships from the same Source.  In other words, we have control over our thoughts, despite any belief to the contrary.

To transcend thought and be aware is the practice of Zen.  Those of you who have seen the movie Soul now have visual imagery which describes the content I’m putting forth here.  When we get caught up in bliss, practice meditation to clear the mind, or realize we are conscious that we are conscious, we transcend thought and we enter an entirely different dimension, one of unity and connectedness with ALL. In psychology, this concept is referred to as the “superconscious” mind.  In spirituality, it’s the 4th/5th dimension.

Some of my favorite ways to transcend the mental aspect are:

1.) EMDR therapy- this form of therapy helps the past remain in the past, which frees the psyche to be present in the moment
2.) A Course in Miracles- this is a year long self study which helps one to transcend the ego thought and align with the spirit aspect, which is wiser and connected with the ALL.  This book is particularly helpful for those who are overcoming unhelpful or traumatic religious programming
3.) Meditation- meditation comes in many different forms.  In the beginning, it’s easiest for the mind to accept a guided imagery type meditation, which makes it easier for the ego aspect to follow.  One can then work up to a quiet mind (silent) meditation, mantra or chanting, breathwork, or trying to create stillness in the mind/body
4.) Yoga can be very helpful for quieting an overactive mind- the two practices I recommend for mental quell are yin and kundalini, as both require the mind to be disciplined and focused.  (Qi Gong can also be helpful.)

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