how to meditate when your mind is racing FI

How to Meditate When Your Mind Is Racing: 6 Techniques to Find Inner Peace

It’s not that my mind is always racing, it just seems to like doing so when I don’t want to; before bed, when I should be paying attention in a meeting, when my wife is telling me about her day (keep that between us).

I understand the frustration and discouragement that can come with trying to still your thoughts when your mind is going 100 mph.

However, through a lot of practice, personal experience, and lots of research, I’ve learned some effective techniques and tips that can help you overcome this obstacle and reap the benefits of regular meditation practice.

In this article, I will share with you my personal insights, as well as evidence-based information, on how to meditate when your mind is racing. I’ll cover what I think are the most practical meditation techniques, such as deep breathing, body scan meditation, visualization, mantra meditation, and mindfulness meditation, and provide step-by-step instructions on how to practice each technique. 

Additionally, I will share helpful tips on setting expectations, finding a quiet place comfortable space, practicing regularly, and more.

I wrote this guide with the goal of providing you with practical advice that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine.

By following these techniques and tips, you can calm your mind, reduce stress and anxiety, improve concentration and focus, and enhance your overall well-being.

So, let’s dive in and start meditating!

Why do our minds race?

how to meditate when your mind is racing: a person wearing a box on their head with brain written on the front and someone dropping the word "idea" into the box.
How to meditate when your mind is racing

There are a number of reasons that our minds race, and most of the time it’s entirely normal. Our brains are constantly processing information in the background, and sometimes our thoughts can become overwhelming, ruminating about the past and thinking about what needs to be done, leading to a racing mind.

Stress, anxiety, and worry can also contribute to a racing mind. When we’re stressed, our brains produce more cortisol, a hormone that can keep us on high alert and that can cause racing thoughts.

Other factors that can contribute to a racing mind include lack of sleep, caffeine, and overstimulation from technology and media.

Some people are also more prone to racing thoughts due to their personality traits or underlying mental health conditions such as ADHD or bipolar disorder.

In extreme cases, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is where this feeling of restlessness is constantly present for more than six months, stress and anxiety can cause the mind and nervous system to be in a constant state of feeling overwhelmed. This only affects 3% of the adult population.

Understanding the reasons behind a racing mind can help us find ways to manage our thoughts and find inner peace through meditation and other techniques.

Why is it difficult to meditate when your mind is racing?

how to meditate when your mind is racing: woman holding her head in her hands
How to meditate when your mind is racing: Why is it difficult?

It’s common to experience a racing mind during meditation. Our minds are naturally active and like to wander. When we try to quiet our thoughts, they often become more pronounced and persistent. It’s like a dripping tap in at night, when the rest of the world is quiet the sound can be deafening.

The modern world doesn’t help. It’s full of external distractions, which can make it challenging to focus and relax during meditation. TikTok has gained exponential growth because it shows short and constantly attention-grabbing videos to keep you hooked. We used to be happy to wait for a letter to arrive in two or more days, then post 1983 (the invention of the internet) we got frustrated when it took more than 2 seconds for our email to send.

Meditation Techniques to calm your mind

how to meditate when your mind is racing: woman by a lake and mountains

There are several effective techniques that can help calm a racing mind during meditation:

1. Mindful Breathing

Focusing on your breath and slowing down your inhales and exhales can create a sense of calm and relaxation in your body and mind. A popular method to use your breath to create is the 4-7-8 Breathing technique:

  • Empty your lungs
  • Breathe in for a count of four
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven
  • breathe out through the mouth for a count of eight
  • Repeat 3 – 4 times or until you find calm

2. Body Scan Meditation

Scanning your body from head to toe and focusing on each area with mindful attention can release tension and relax your mind. Try to explore every detail, how does it feel, what is the temperature, is there any contact between your other limbs or your clothes?

3. Visualization

Imagining a peaceful and calming scene or image in your mind can create a sense of calm and tranquility in your body and mind. There are tons of videos on YouTube if you’re struggling to create a scene on your own.

You might want to help a struggling YouTuber and watch the ZenGuided visualization meditation video here:

4. Mantra Meditation

Repeating a word, phrase, or sound can help you focus and calm your mind, quieting your thoughts and finding inner peace. There’s often the misconception that mantras are religious, or spiritual, but mantras can be as straightforward as focusing on what you want and saying it out loud. Think Dorothy “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”

5. Somatic tapping

I’m gonna level with you…when I first heard about somatic tapping I thought it was a little bit woo-woo for my liking. But there is ongoing research to validate the effects of tapping, and there is a growing community that swears that it works.

Somatic just means ‘relating to the body, especially as distinct from the mind.’ There are several types of somatic exercises that can help with stress and anxiety, and somatic tapping is one of them. It is said to work by bringing your attention to the body and improving the mind-body connection.

6. Mindfulness Meditation

Being fully present in the moment and observing your thoughts without judgment can cultivate a sense of calm, happiness, and awareness in your mind. It can be tough a first, but the following tips should help.

RELATED: 9 Different Types of Meditation: Find the Right One For You (With Examples)

Tips for how to meditate when your mind is racing

how to meditate when your mind is racing: woman meditating by a pool

Here are some helpful tips for meditating when your busy mind is racing:

Set Realistic Expectations

Meditation takes time to develop, so start slow with short sessions and gradually increase your time as you become more comfortable. It can be as little as five minutes to start and then slowly increase the time.

Find a Comfortable Space

Meditate in a quiet and comfortable space where you won’t be distracted by external noise or interruptions. And if there isn’t somewhere quiet to sit down, listen to some gentle music or white noise to drown out distractions.

Practice Regularly

Consistency is key when it comes to meditation, so set aside a regular time each day to meditate and make it a habit. People always ask me when is best to meditate, but that depends on you. The time that you can consistently is what’s right for you.

Keep a notepad

There is loads of evidence that writing down ideas can help stop repeating thoughts in your head. I don’t suggest making this a regular part of your meditation, but when you start, having somewhere to park your amazing ideas can help you focus on your meditation with the reassurance that your thoughts will be waiting on paper when you finish.

Don’t Get Frustrated

It’s normal to experience racing thoughts during meditation. Instead of getting frustrated, observe your thoughts in the present moment without judgment and bring your focus back to your breath or meditation technique.

Benefits of meditation for a racing mind

Meditation has many benefits for a racing mind, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving concentration and focus, enhancing emotional well-being, and promoting better sleep.

Common myths about meditation and racing thoughts

There are several common myths about meditation and racing thoughts, including the belief that you need to clear your mind completely or that meditation for racing thoughts is only for experienced practitioners. These myths can be discouraging, but it’s important to remember that meditation is a practice and that it’s normal to have thoughts during meditation.

Frequently asked questions about meditation and racing thoughts

Q: How long should I meditate if my mind is racing?

A: Start with short sessions, such as 5-10 minutes, and gradually increase your time as you become more comfortable.

Q: What if I can’t clear my mind completely during meditation?

A: It’s normal to have thoughts during meditation. Instead of trying to clear your mind completely, focus on your breath or meditation technique and bring your attention back to it whenever your mind wanders.

Q: Can meditation help with racing thoughts outside of meditation?

A: Yes, regular meditation practice can help train your mind to focus and remain calm, which can carry over into other areas of your life.

Q: What if I have trouble staying focused during meditation?

A: Try different techniques, such as deep breathing or visualization, to find what works best for you. Additionally, practicing regularly can help you develop your focus and concentration.

Q: Is it okay to meditate lying down?

A: While it’s possible to meditate lying down, it can be more difficult to stay alert and focused. It’s generally recommended to meditate sitting upright with good posture.

The takeaway

Meditating when your mind is racing can be a challenge, but it’s important to remember that it’s a common experience that many people face. Through the techniques and tips outlined in this article, you can learn to calm your mind, find inner peace, and experience the many benefits of meditation. With regular practice and a patient, non-judgmental attitude, you can learn to overcome racing thoughts and find a sense of calm and clarity in your life.

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