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meditation

Intrusive Thoughts and How Meditation Can Help

by BetterSleep
May 13 • 4 min read
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Intrusive, anxious thoughts can impact day to day life. With a recent study showing that the average person has over 6,000 thoughts a day, it’s easy to see why we often find it hard to focus.

And, when these thoughts start to turn negative, this can elevate anxiety and stress levels. Many turn to meditation to calm the mind and control intrusive thoughts. While it isn’t easy in the beginning, meditation over time, can help quell the internal chatter.

What Are Intrusive Thoughts?

Intrusive thoughts are thoughts we don’t want in our heads, but often pop into our minds throughout the day. Because they are repetitive and unwanted, they can become distressing and start to affect mental health. Examples of intrusive thoughts include:

  • Reminders about past negative events
  • Worrying about getting sick or catching germs
  • Stressing about doing or saying something embarrassing
  • Doubting yourself and your abilities
  • Thoughts about causing harm to yourself or others

Meditation Regime to Quieten Intrusive Thoughts

Studies have shown meditation helps to balance the brain, clear the subconscious mind and rid the mind of intrusive thoughts. If you suffer anxiety due to intrusive thoughts, meditation is well worth trying out. Try following this guide:

Sit Somewhere Quiet and Comfortable

Wear loose clothing and sit somewhere comfortable. This can be on the floor or on a chair. Keep your back straight and shoulders rolled back.

Focus on Your Breathing

Focus on the feeling of air coming into your nose and out through your mouth.

Repeat a Simple Mantra

To calm the mind, try repeating a simple mantra. A mantra can be one word or a positive sentence. Examples include:

  • Peace, peace, peace
  • I am happy, I am loved
  • May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe and free from suffering

While repeating your mantra, close the eyes and focus your gaze to the point between the eyes.

Become an Observer of Your Thoughts

If intrusive thoughts come into your mind, observe them and remind yourself that these thoughts are unimportant. And bring your attention back to your breathing.

Use an Anchor to Overcome Intrusive Thoughts

Anchors in mediation, are a way to bring you back to the present moment. An anchor could be your breathing or a sentence, where you tell yourself this is an intrusive thought.

Try Positive Affirmations

If your thoughts still wander, try chanting a positive affirmation out loud or in your mind. Examples include:

  • I am strong
  • I am happy
  • I am calm
  • I am focused
  • I am peaceful
  • I am at peace with myself
  • I am strong and powerful
  • I release tension and anxiety

Research has shown that mindfulness meditation can reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Intrusive thinking is distressing in nature and may lead to mental health conditions such as anxiety and OCD. Becoming more present through meditation is a way to manage these thoughts and calm the body and mind.

Try the BetterSleep app for a range of guided meditations, curated sounds for sleep and tips on how to relax.

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