How to Stop Racing Thoughts

When your mind just won't quiet down, take control with this empowering technique.

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To Focus, close your eyes, breathe in and say silently to yourself:
"Clear mind, clear mind, clear mind . . ."

This should help you feel more in control of your thinking and give you a sense of calmness and clarity. By repeating the phrase "clear mind," you are asserting yourself in the midst of your distressing thoughts. Think of this like clearing off a cluttered desk: You could try to ignore the clutter, you could feel discouraged by it or you can calmly gather it all up into one big pile. Try it right now and see how it feels.

MORE: Avoid These Six Mood-Busting Thoughts

The second step of Focus and Flow is to breathe out and let the thoughts go. Now that you've assembled a large heap of clutter, push it off the desk and onto the floor. Surrender and trust as you freefall into the unknown.

To Flow, keep your eyes closed, breathe out, and say silently to yourself:
"Don't knowwww . . . . . . ."

When doing this, you may feel a sense of relief and freedom. Regardless of what thoughts you are having, give yourself the gift of feeling completely unattached to them. The phrase "don't know" is meant to distance yourself from rigid thinking; no matter how real a worry or opinion seems to you, you can always question its validity. As I've discussed in a previous article, assumptions are often insufficient; there is always more information to learn. Take a moment to inhale and Focus again, followed by a Flow as you exhale.

Now, continue Focusing and Flowing for about five minutes. Each time you inhale, experience strength, firmness and stability. Each time you exhale, feel detachment, lightness and trust. If you need a momentary break, take a breath just on its own before continuing with the exercise. With time, inflexible thoughts will feel more loose and less dominating; chaotic thinking will become more organized and manageable.

MEET THE MIND: The Father of Flow

With Focus and Flow, you can discover a healthy balance between firmly anchoring yourself in thought and freeing yourself from mental monotony. So next time the thought parade drags on, breathe in and Focus. "Clear mind, clear mind, clear mind . . ." Now that you feel stable, rooted and in control of your thoughts, toss them away and Flow. "Don't knowwww . . . . . . ."

Keep at it and there may be an end to that parade after all!


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*Levey, J. & Levey, M. (1999). Simple Meditation & Relaxation. Berkeley, CA: Conari Press.

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