The power of pause: breaking free from reactive thought patterns


We probably do not need reminding that we live in a fast-paced world compared to our ancestors’, in which we experience more stress and mental health issues than ever before. Modern Western culture bombards us with information and places the onus on doing more in less time. Advances in digital technology mean that communication with others (even those who live on the other side of the world) is instant, and consequently, we can feel as though we are β€œon-call” twenty-four-hours-a-day, whether we are actually at work or not.

BECOMING THE β€œWITNESS”

In a culture in which life has become so fast, it is hardly a surprise that anxiety-related disorders are now so common. It becomes difficult to slow down our thoughts and quieten our minds, and it is easy to slip into anxious and reactive thought patterns. In their extreme form, such thought patterns are known as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, which is characterised by unwanted and intrusive thoughts which trigger disabling ritualistic behaviours. While most of us, fortunately, do not suffer from this, most of us can identify with having unhelpful, negative thought processes that have a habit of taking over at times. They can cause us to sabotage ourselves in some way, for example, by becoming angry and then saying or doing things that we later regret. However, it is possible to break free from these reactive thought patterns: the first step is to become aware of when we are in their grip and to not engage with these thoughts. This idea that we are not our thoughts and that we can, if we choose, merely observe them is what Buddhist philosophy calls being the β€œwitness”.

REWIRING THE BRAIN THROUGH MEDITATION

There has been a huge increase in the practice of meditation in the Western world over the last fifty years, and recently, interest in its psychological and neurocognitive effects has grown. A multitude of scientific studies have demonstrated its numerous health benefits: evidence strongly suggests that it reduces anxiety and depression, enhances emotional self-regulation abilities, and induces positive mood. A study by Horan (2009) has linked meditation to increased creativity and problem-solving capabilities. Horan suggests that amongst other reasons, meditation helps to erode habitual thought patterns by allowing the brain to enter into a deep state of β€œdelta silence”, which can otherwise only be attained through the deepest stages of sleep. During this state of rest, the brain cells reorganise themselves and create new neuronal connections (known as β€œneuroplasticity”) which are vital to the insight and incubation phases of creativity. It is during these phases that new ideas and inspirations are able to surface.

Even if the idea of a formal meditation practise does not appeal, simply incorporating some mindfulness exercises into our day can allow the brain to experience a more relaxed state in which new insights and solutions to problems come to mind more readily. The benefits of mindfulness are often referred to as though they are a kind of panacea for the ailments of twenty-first-century living, and while this may be overstating its effects, by subtly changing habitual thoughts by becoming more mindful, we may experience some noticeable positive effects.

BREATHE SLOWLY AND MORE DEEPLY

Nowadays, many of us have forgotten how to breathe β€œproperly”. Despite this being one of the simplest adjustments that we can make, we may find that this is surprisingly difficult at first. Reminding ourselves to breathe slowly and more deeply and from our diaphragms instead of from our chests is likely to have a more profound effect on slowing down our thoughts than any other technique.

DROP THE WAITING

If we stop to reflect on how many minutes of our days, weeks, and months of our lives we spend waiting in queues, traffic jams or in anticipation of news of various kinds, we may gradually conclude that it is worth changing the way we think about this β€œwaiting” time. Our culture has conditioned us to believe that any kind of delay or obstruction between ourselves and the things we want is undesirable and wastes our time. However, feeling resistant to what is happening in the present creates unnecessary stress: Buddhist philosophy suggests that while we are β€œwaiting”, we experience β€œthe pain of expectation”. This familiar pain can be eased by subtly altering our mindsets by concentrating instead on the present moment; for example, by focusing on the things we can see and hear around us.

DISCONNECT FROM TECHNOLOGY

For at least a portion of each day, disconnecting from technology can help us to cultivate a calmer and clearer state of mind. By resisting the urge to check our text messages and emails the moment we wake up and by giving ourselves some space, we are more likely to be focused and effective in our activities. By turning our phones off, leaving them at home from time-to-time, or even by deliberately taking holidays in places where there is little phone signal or internet connection, we are likely to improve our mental wellbeing. Disconnecting in this way can effectively press the β€œpause” button and prevent us from feeling β€œon-call” all of the time. While we may experience some guilt for withdrawing from digital communication and the rest of the world even for brief periods, we should remind ourselves that we are not, in fact, all that important: less than twenty years ago this was the way everyone lived.

DO THINGS IN A SLOWER, MORE FOCUSED WAY

Aiming to become more focused rather than rushing our activities can make us more productive, and paying attention to the way in which we do things is likely to make us more effective. Whether we actively choose to learn to slow down our thoughts by beginning a meditation practise or just by incorporating a few specific mindfulness techniques into our day, after a while, we will find that we naturally begin to do things in a slower yet more focused way. Unhelpful and reactive thought patterns will begin to lose their grip and will be replaced with more flexible, creative, and healthier thought patterns which can have life-enhancing effects.

Mindowl Weekly

Sign up to our free weekly newsletter, to have early access to new articles on Meditation, Psychology and Breathwork.  Enter your email to subscribe – emails are limited to one a week and your address will not be shared with anyone else.

Follow us on Instagram

254 Posts
5668 Followers

Mindowl

Go beyond the meditation app!
Free resources:
πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡

We find ourselves in our own world a lot of the time & lost in thought, even when talking to our loved ones, friends and colleagues. πŸ’­

Mindful communication involves applying the principles of mindfulness to the way we communicate with each other, labelling our thoughts, feelings, and emotions to enhance our awareness. 

By being mindful about how we interact with others, we can become more empathetic, compassionate, and honest. πŸ’—

Find out more ➑️ mindowl.org/mindful-communication/

#meditation #mindfulness #peaceofmind #compassion #selfawareness #wellbeing #mindfulmoment #dailycalm #mindfulcommunication #quietthemind #selfacceptance #practicemindfulness #mindfulmeditation We find ourselves in our own world a lot of the time & lost in thought, even when talking to our loved ones, friends and colleagues. πŸ’­

Mindful communication involves applying the principles of mindfulness to the way we communicate with each other, labelling our thoughts, feelings, and emotions to enhance our awareness. 

By being mindful about how we interact with others, we can become more empathetic, compassionate, and honest. πŸ’—

Find out more ➑️ mindowl.org/mindful-communication/

#meditation #mindfulness #peaceofmind #compassion #selfawareness #wellbeing #mindfulmoment #dailycalm #mindfulcommunication #quietthemind #selfacceptance #practicemindfulness #mindfulmeditation
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. 😊

If you want to be happy, practice compassion. πŸ€—

#quote #quoteoftheday #quotestoliveby #motivation #inspiration #inspirationquotes #livinginthemoment #mindfulmoment If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. 😊

If you want to be happy, practice compassion. πŸ€—

#quote #quoteoftheday #quotestoliveby #motivation #inspiration #inspirationquotes #livinginthemoment #mindfulmoment
One of the first steps you need to take in order to begin enjoying the simple pleasures in life is to slow down. 😊

Take a moment to stop what you are doing. 🚫

1️⃣ Draw your attention to your breath (this will ground you in the current moment).

2️⃣ Notice your breath entering and leaving your body.

3️⃣ Next, firmly plant your feet on the ground and draw your attention to this sensation.

4️⃣ Keep your attention and awareness directed at the breath or your feet on the ground, any time it moves away draw it back with patience.

5️⃣ Continue on with your day. 

This is a great way to introduce mindfulness into your life, you are simply making sure that your awareness is directed at the current moment. πŸ§˜β€β™‚οΈ

#presentmoment #selfawareness #innerwork #livinginthemoment #mindfulmoment #emotionalintelligence #wellbeing #wanderingmind #quietthemind #meditationsoul #livinginthenow  #calmthemind #livemindfully #practicemindfulness #mindfulmeditation #mindfulness One of the first steps you need to take in order to begin enjoying the simple pleasures in life is to slow down. 😊

Take a moment to stop what you are doing. 🚫

1️⃣ Draw your attention to your breath (this will ground you in the current moment).

2️⃣ Notice your breath entering and leaving your body.

3️⃣ Next, firmly plant your feet on the ground and draw your attention to this sensation.

4️⃣ Keep your attention and awareness directed at the breath or your feet on the ground, any time it moves away draw it back with patience.

5️⃣ Continue on with your day. 

This is a great way to introduce mindfulness into your life, you are simply making sure that your awareness is directed at the current moment. πŸ§˜β€β™‚οΈ

#presentmoment #selfawareness #innerwork #livinginthemoment #mindfulmoment #emotionalintelligence #wellbeing #wanderingmind #quietthemind #meditationsoul #livinginthenow  #calmthemind #livemindfully #practicemindfulness #mindfulmeditation #mindfulness
Flow states are moments when you are deeply connected & engaged in an activity, and therefore living in the present moment. 🧘

Whether it's sport, writing, drawing or even cleaning, flow states are a great reminder that mindful living doesn't always mean regular deep meditation - mindfulness is everywhere. πŸƒ

Read more ➑️ mindowl.org/effortless-meditation

#mindfulness #meditation #selfawareness #selfcompassion #innerwork #practicemindfulness #livinginthemoment #selflove #selfcare #mindfulmeditation #mindfulliving Flow states are moments when you are deeply connected & engaged in an activity, and therefore living in the present moment. 🧘

Whether it's sport, writing, drawing or even cleaning, flow states are a great reminder that mindful living doesn't always mean regular deep meditation - mindfulness is everywhere. πŸƒ

Read more ➑️ mindowl.org/effortless-meditation

#mindfulness #meditation #selfawareness #selfcompassion #innerwork #practicemindfulness #livinginthemoment #selflove #selfcare #mindfulmeditation #mindfulliving
There are a number of breathwork exercises that aim to make you feel more energised. πŸƒ

These types of breathwork include the Wim Hof Method, the 5-3-3 technique, and β€˜Breath of Fire’. πŸ”₯

Energising breathwork practice is far more healthy than using caffeine or sugar to liven yourself up. πŸ₯€

So put down that cup of coffee, and give the incredible power of breathwork for energy a go. πŸ’ͺ

πŸ”΄ mindowl.org/breathwork-for-energy

#breathingexercise #breathing #mediation #exercise #mindbody #motivation #happiness #meditationsoul #selfcareseries #inspiration #mindfulnessteacher #wellbeing #mindfulmoment #wellness #mindfulmeditation #practicemindfulness #mindbodysoul #groundyourself #learn #breathworkmeditation #breathdeeply #yoga #zen
Putting in the maximum amount of continuous effort isn't always the answer, besides what society tells us.Β πŸ’­

The art of effortless meditation is about stopping the search for "more" and instead focusing on what you already have. Stop worrying or waiting for something greater than what's happening right now. πŸ’—

Wu Wei closely relates to the goal of effortless action. ✨

Find out more ➑️ mindowl.org/effortless-meditation

#mindfulness #meditation #innerwork #selflove #practicemindfulness #livinginthemoment #selfcare #mindfulmeditation #quietthemind #effortlessaction #artofdoingnothing
We understand selfishness as lacking consideration for others and being concerned only with personal gain and pleasure, yet doing the things which contribute towards a genuinely happy and meaningful life, can be intelligently selfish. 

Doing what's best for others is the same as doing what's best for yourself. ✨

This can be practiced through Tonglen Meditation, which helps cultivate an inner peace of mind by extending compassion towards others. πŸ™

Find out more ➑️ mindowl.org/tonglen-meditation/

#meditation #mindfulness #peaceofmind #compassion #selfawareness #wellbeing #mindfulmoment #tonglenmeditation #quietthemind #selfacceptance #practicemindfulness #mindfulmeditation #dailycalm We understand selfishness as lacking consideration for others and being concerned only with personal gain and pleasure, yet doing the things which contribute towards a genuinely happy and meaningful life, can be intelligently selfish. 

Doing what's best for others is the same as doing what's best for yourself. ✨

This can be practiced through Tonglen Meditation, which helps cultivate an inner peace of mind by extending compassion towards others. πŸ™

Find out more ➑️ mindowl.org/tonglen-meditation/

#meditation #mindfulness #peaceofmind #compassion #selfawareness #wellbeing #mindfulmoment #tonglenmeditation #quietthemind #selfacceptance #practicemindfulness #mindfulmeditation #dailycalm
Change is inevitable. It is important to focus on our relationship to change, one of the certain elements of life. πŸ’­

To move with the fluctuation of life, change has to be embraced. We can choose to swim with the tide, or against it. 🧘

#mindfulness #meditation #selfawareness #selfcompassion #innerwork #practicemindfulness #livinginthemoment #selflove #selfcare #mindfulmeditation #inevitablechange Change is inevitable. It is important to focus on our relationship to change, one of the certain elements of life. πŸ’­

To move with the fluctuation of life, change has to be embraced. We can choose to swim with the tide, or against it. 🧘

#mindfulness #meditation #selfawareness #selfcompassion #innerwork #practicemindfulness #livinginthemoment #selflove #selfcare #mindfulmeditation #inevitablechange
There is so much more to life, so much to experience when we simply notice. Don't let life pass you by, be present and be human. πŸ’—

#quoteoftheday #quote #quotestoliveby #mindfulness #meditation #mindfulmeditation #livinginthemoment #quietthemind #mindfulmoment #livinginthenow #selfawareness #inspirationquotes #inspiration #innerpeace There is so much more to life, so much to experience when we simply notice. Don't let life pass you by, be present and be human. πŸ’—

#quoteoftheday #quote #quotestoliveby #mindfulness #meditation #mindfulmeditation #livinginthemoment #quietthemind #mindfulmoment #livinginthenow #selfawareness #inspirationquotes #inspiration #innerpeace
We live in such a busy and fast pace environment, that we look past the beauty around us. In every moment of life there is something to be grateful for, you just need to look to find it. 🌞

Slow down and appreciate the small things in life. This can lead to an overall feeling of contentment day-to-day. 

Write down three things you are grateful for every night before bed, and watch your life transform as you train your mind to see the positive in each moment. β˜•οΈ

#mindfulness #selfcareseries #meditation #gratitude #practicegratitude #mindfulsoul #mindfulmoment #peacefulness #selflove #selfcare #presentmoment #groundyourself #livinginthemoment #mindfulmeditation #reflection
It’s important to follow some practical steps when seeking to achieve an intentional life. πŸƒβ€β™€οΈ

Start by making more Towards moves, and less Away moves. Towards moves are healthy habits that align with the sort of person we want to be. πŸ€Έβ€β™‚οΈ

Away moves are ineffective and unhelpful; they hook us to difficult thoughts, emotions and behaviours. πŸ˜”

Consciously implementing intentional living can help reproduce more towards moves. πŸ§˜β€β™€οΈ

πŸ”΄ mindowl.org/intentional-living

#mindfulness #happiness #inspiration #intentionalliving #lifestyle #wellbeing #selfcare #mindfulmoment #presentmoment #innerwork #learn #practice #calmthemind #peacefulness #groundyourself It’s important to follow some practical steps when seeking to achieve an intentional life. πŸƒβ€β™€οΈ

Start by making more Towards moves, and less Away moves. Towards moves are healthy habits that align with the sort of person we want to be. πŸ€Έβ€β™‚οΈ

Away moves are ineffective and unhelpful; they hook us to difficult thoughts, emotions and behaviours. πŸ˜”

Consciously implementing intentional living can help reproduce more towards moves. πŸ§˜β€β™€οΈ

πŸ”΄ mindowl.org/intentional-living

#mindfulness #happiness #inspiration #intentionalliving #lifestyle #wellbeing #selfcare #mindfulmoment #presentmoment #innerwork #learn #practice #calmthemind #peacefulness #groundyourself
Tonglen meditation is a type of ancient practice focused on compassion. It is a type of visualisation that enhances feelings of compassion towards others. 😌

The word Tonglen is Tibetan for "sending and taking" which is exactly what this practice aims to do. It allows you to focus on the wellbeing of others, stepping away from the usual self-centred approach of our busy daily lives. πŸ§˜β€β™‚οΈ

Follow this exercise to cultivate the power of Tonglen Meditation. 

Find out more ➑️ mindowl.org/tonglen-meditation/

#meditation #mindfulness #compassion #selfawareness #meditationexercise #tonglenmeditation #innerpeace #quietthemind #meditationmoment #healing #wellbeing

MORE FROM THE BLOG

Keep on reading

Effortless meditation? Can meditation ever be effortless? The title of today’s article may seem like a welcome break from society’s rhetoric that in order to be successful we must be willing β€œto give 110%”. This phrase sums up the unrealistic standards that exist around the subject of effort; but is

Read More

In today’s hectic modern world, in which excess and selfishness are often encouraged, it can take great time and effort to develop a simple life based around your core values and needs. Our lives are full of personal and professional tasks that swallow up our energy and time, without giving

Read More

Meditation vs Mindfulness. So – what is the difference between meditation and mindfulness? That is a question that we get from our students here frequently. With the increased popularity of mindfulness around the world, these two words get used almost interchangeably, when in fact they do not mean the same

Read More
  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
    >