Mindfulness of Excess Thinking and how Mindfulness Teacher Training can turn it around

How Mindfulness can help us handle excessive thoughts by Tammy Williams
(Founder of Yoga NRG + Mindfulness Training Australia)

Thoughts are not a problem, its when we keep adding to the first thought that ‘thinking’ becomes excessive.  It’s the excessive thinking that gets us ‘hooked’ taking us away from the present moment of what’s happening now

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A great Meditation Teacher, Pema Chodran, shares her definition of ‘hooked’ it comes from the Tibetan word ‘shenpa,’ meaning: “an unwillingness of human beings to let go of certain thoughts, particularly those that cause us suffering”. … As a metaphor, Pema compares shenpa to scabies where shenpa is the itch that goes along with it and the urge to scratch.

Personally I find that formal practice, even sitting still for ten to twenty minutes each morning dedicating time to being disciplined enough not to act on every thought that comes up …. not to add to it, we can learn how to refrain from the urges of scratching the itch (which can make the ‘bite’ worse.

The diagram above is a reminder to highlight how thoughts and emotions can be what hooks us to the point where we forget about other aspects of ourselves, such as the body, our intuition, clear decision making, our breath.  In this work of Mindfulness there is recognition that there are more than five senses.  The Mind is included as a sixth sense – and by “Mind” we do not mean “Thinking” we are referring to “Awareness” and this is something we begin to discern in Mindfulness Training.

Even though the mind is just one sense organ we can pay more attention to its content than any of our other senses.  Content such as judgements and attaching to them can really get us hooked and have us living in our heads, with thoughts spiralling out of control, feeding on one another.  This can eventually make us sick as we miss out on vital messages our body may be trying to alert us to, which is why practising mindfulness of body sensations and breath is key as the first foundation of Mindfulness.

At times it is hard to stay with just the body and the breath so by practising Mindfulness of Thinking we can become aware of the nature of thoughts.

Some tips to get you started :

  • 1. Don’t take your thoughts so seriously
  • 2. Don’t always believe your thoughts
  • 3. Practice being impartial to them by labelling them curiously. For example, when a thought comes in Notice and then to yourself say “Hmm how interesting a thought of…..”
  • 4.  Remember the nature of the thought doesn’t matter, its when we keep adding to it and get hooked by this excess that the mind can fabricate problems unnecessarily
  • 5. Quite often the mind will start to tell more stories if we are overworked, if we have been ‘doing’ too much or especially if we have forgotten about the body – for example sitting at a desk all day , not moving and releasing tension (built up knots in the body can create a train of thoughts that build and build, giving us a feeling that they too are tying themselves in knots …… these knots are the hooks)
  • Enjoy your Mindfulness of Thinking, just labelling, and if you get “hooked” and you are feeling hijacked by your thoughts then come back to the sensations of the body and breath.

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Try it now – Notice the sensations in the body….

What happened in your mind?

The Yoga NRG + Mindfulness Teacher Training courses and one on one sessions offered goes further into how to deal with highly charged thoughts and emotions in a constructive way.

In the meantime here are some NRG tips that will help nourish your eNeRGy (that often gets depleted or wasted when our attention gets hooked on thoughts, taking us out of the present moment)

1. Go for a walk

2. Play with your puppy or pet

3. Go for a surf or spend time in nature moving your body

4.  YOGA asana (stretch, strengthen, breathe and take your awareness inside the body)….the more you do, the more you can concentrate on what’s happening now, the more you can be fully absorbed in life as it is

5. Look into someone’s eyes and offer a smile, maybe even the next person you see and remember ~


Don’t take it for granted!

Unhook yourself from repetitive thoughts so you can live it fully.

This is all Yoga, enjoy your practice


There are many other techniques that are offered in Mindfulness Training regarding dealing with excessive thinking, the most helpful perhaps is not to see them as a problem and be mindful very few of them (especially the repetitive ones that highjack us) It is why Non Judgement is one of the Pillars of Mindfulness (not judging the thoughts as good or bad or even truthful)

“Sometimes all we need to do to give us space, to feel peaceful, to have more energy is to give ourselves a rest from our own opinions” 

Stay tuned for our upcoming blogs that look at Mindful ways to deal with emotions.


If you would like to learn more about the nature of the mind, how to work with it in a meaningful way or to begin to learn how to share Mindfulness or Mindful Yoga with others



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