In this blog, you will find out how I overcame relentless thinking, and learn three ways you can Find Inner Peace and Happiness almost instantly – even if you have the world’s most overactive mind.
Big claim! So, let’s do this.
Trying to go sleep and cannot shut your mind down?
Trying to get a break from painful thoughts about a recent experience?
It really doesn’t matter what your mind is overthinking about, or the situation you are in. There are ways that you can gain a little instant mindful relief.
How do I know inner peace is possible no matter how active your mind is?
First, let me share a short story as to why I had to find a way to quieten my mind, and also explain why I know it is possible for you to take control of those relentless thoughts that wear you down eventually.
You would think my lowest point in life was when I ended up severely paralysed at the age of 18 after a diving accident.
My lowest point came 25 years later.
When I hit this lowest point, I had a few days of next to no thinking. Looking back now, it was almost like I was dead inside. At the time I never thought I would desire anything again.
How I Found Inner Peace and Happiness
I had just turned 40, I was in a wonderful relationship and my whole future was perfectly laid out in front of me – or that was the story I thought I was living.
Then, totally unexpectedly, I was single and felt like I’d lost everything. I’d lost all of my motivation, drive, my hope for the next minute let alone the days or weeks ahead.
Although this may sound blissful compared to overthinking, the reality was quite different. When you have no thoughts and no feelings, everything becomes pointless. I felt like I was just existing.
There is no pleasure in just existing.
But after a few days the thinking returned.
The thoughts and feelings were relentless. It was everything opposite to inner peace.
The intensity was nothing like I had experienced before. It wasn’t my first experience of being brokenhearted, and although the pain was similar it was the thoughts that eventually took me down. One moment I was dwelling on all sorts of hypothetical situations that my ex might have been part of, the next how I got everything wrong and it was my fault.
Were they seeing somebody else? That’s it, that must have been it. There’s no other explanation. Now they’ve got everything that I wanted with them. I can see them now laughing, playing, being intimate just like I should be with them. In fact, they are even happier than we were.
My thoughts just kept going down the most painful rabbit hole imaginable. It was almost like I was revelling in my own pain, even though I was getting no pleasure in any way. It got to the point that I couldn’t eat, make a decision, and even sleeping become nearly impossible unless my body gave up in exhaustion for a few minutes at a time.
It felt like I was constantly under attack. If these thoughts were said to me by somebody else, it would have been bullying or harassment, but it was myself in my own head. I had to get rid of them. They were literally killing me.
Okay, a little dramatic?
No, not really. Not been able to sleep or eat started to take its toll. My body was breaking down. My memory was going, and my ability to function day to day was severely impaired. At one point I turned to drinking spirits every night to try to get to sleep, and this doesn’t work. You end up with broken sleep that doesn’t heal your body and over time the negative effects of alcohol make things far worse.
I was still paralysed; I still had all that to contend with. However, for those few weeks it was a whole lot worse.
At some point I picked up a book and started reading it every night. It was tough at first because I hadn’t read anything beyond a headline since I was diagnosed dyslexic in primary school. However, I persevered and eventually got to the end of the book. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say had to reread most paragraphs more than half a dozen times.
During that time for brief moments, there was genuine inner peace – when I was having to focus purely on what I was doing. You see, I couldn’t read the pages, take it all in, and think about the thoughts I was trying to avoid.
I’d spent a long time trying to push away the thoughts, avoid them at all cost.
That never worked, if anything it made them stronger. I had to find a way to tap into this inner peace and not stick my head in a book hoping for fleeting moments. I needed some control over my thoughts.
So, good news to end that story – I found a way.
There are long-term solutions to overthinking that will help you to gain more sustained inner peace. Here is my podcast How to Control Your Thoughts and Enjoy Inner Peace. I will post all these links and the bottom of the blog!
However, sometimes we need that quick fix to get us out of our heads when our thoughts drive us crazy.
If that’s you today, then you’re in luck! These are the three most effective ways I have found to quieten the mind almost instantly.
No sitting in caves meditating for hours on end. And no disconnecting or needing to get drunk either.
Here are 3 ways that you can have virtually instant inner peace when you need it most and you do not have the time to read books or meditate.
What are the 3 ways for more instant inner peace?
1. Become Aware of Your Thoughts
I know this seems counterintuitive; however, it works, and you will be amazed at how effective it is.
- Take a moment to sit quietly, and just allow your body to relax. After a few seconds and you are starting to feel relaxed within your body, say to your mind: “Give me all your thoughts, I’m listening.”
- Then, just wait and listen for all your thoughts to arise.
Did you notice how quiet the mind goes? The thoughts seem to vanish and become very shy when we pay focused attention to them. This is what it means to become aware. You become the observer rather than being the thoughts.
After a few seconds you could take this further by allowing any thoughts to arise, and then let them go without following or giving them any attention.
This awareness is where inner peace starts. It’s not about getting rid of all your thinking; although I’ve shown that you can do this for just a couple seconds, the thoughts will always return. It’s about awareness of thoughts, awareness of feelings, and awareness of what’s going on within the body and mind.
You can do this exercise any time, any place, and it almost always works.
This exercise is also great for disrupting your train of thoughts when they are relentless.
How does it feel to know you are able to control your thoughts to some degree?
2. Become Aware of Your Body
- Take a moment to sit quietly and become comfortable. Shake out your arms, rest them on your legs and turn your attention to you.
- Say in your mind “I am breathing in, I am breathing out” as you slow your breathing down slightly. Become aware of the little nuances like the air going in through your nose feeling slightly colder than when it comes out.
- Turn your attention to how your body is feeling. You could do your body as a whole or pick an individual part like your foot or your heart. It really doesn’t matter.
- Observe what is going on in this moment. Maybe it’s warm or cold, maybe you’re tired or restless. There is no right answer, it’s about becoming aware and just witnessing what is going on.
- You may also notice that if you invite your body to relax, your mind will follow. You cannot relax the body without the mind automatically becoming quieter.
The next time your mind is racing relax your body instead of trying to relax your mind.
3. Create A Focused Awareness
You may feel uncomfortable, as many of us do, when we turn our focused awareness to something internal – especially if it is not a practice you are used to. Virtually every client I assist in these techniques and similar meditation techniques feels somewhat uncomfortable at first.
However, you may prefer this practice to the others. It really doesn’t matter, as long as you can Find Inner Peace and Happiness when you need it.
This practice for almost instant inner peace will move the focused awareness to outside of your body. The external world as opposed to your internal world.
For this practice we will use sound as the anchor point for our focused awareness. It seems to be the easiest, as well as the most effective. It will help us to deepen our practice and allow us to learn to let go.
Let’s Start the Third Practice
Invite your body to relax and get comfortable, stretch your arms up above your head and take a deep breath. As you breathe out, slowly lower your arms down either side of you and place your hands comfortably upon your legs.
- As you take a breath, slowly imagine the word “calm”, and as you release your breath imagine the word “relax”. Do this just for a couple of breaths.
- Now bring your awareness to any sound you can hear.
- Try not to label it, block it or do anything with the sound. Just allow the sound to be in your awareness.
- Then you can focus in on any sounds you might not have been hearing before you started focusing on sound. Maybe there is noise off in the distance, perhaps there are nearby fans, air conditioners or computers. Perhaps you’re lucky to be in a park with children playing and the birds singing.
- Whatever the sounds are, allow them to gently pass through you.
- Notice the way the sounds arise and disappear again. Notice how every moment brings a new sound, and even if it sounds like the moment before, it is still a new sound.
- Do this for as long as you like.
You will notice that your mind will keep wandering, however the more you do this practice, and similar, the more control you will have in drawing the mind away from the relentless thinking that we all struggle with.
This practice may not be as quick as the first two practices for truly instant inner peace; however, it is still very effective and if done regularly you will be able to get there within a few seconds.
Really, we’re just asking our monkey mind to do something and take part in something that we haven’t asked it to do before.
Your Inner Peace Awaits
These practices are simple, as well as effective. The hardest thing is remembering these practices when we need them instead of jumping into our habitual responses of frustration and stress.
If you make them a habit, they will become more effective and I invite you to do them several times a day, even if you don’t feel you need to do them.
They can be as quick as 20 seconds, or you could sit for a few minutes. Both will give you a glimpse of inner peace and allow your subconscious mind to have an alternative to the normal habitual experience it keeps throwing your way.
If these exercises help, I invite you to download my Say Goodbye to Anxiety Meditation so you always have that available if the thoughts are a little more stubborn and these exercises do not have the impact you need them to have.
Let me know in the comments below which practice was most effective for you!