I have long believed in simple, meaningful mindfulness exercises over the trite meaningless exercises spouted off about from hear to eternity all over the internet. If breathing would have helped curb my insanity, I’d have been a breathing fool, huffing and puffing my problems away.
That mindless pablum works for those with minor issues. For those, like me, who have real issues, we need real help. Concrete steps that will stop the racing mind.
My favorite tip from my early days of recovery and work on calming my mind was advice I realized on my own in a rare moment of clarity: I don’t have to treat every thought I have as though it is valid. I’m not responsible for the first thought, I am for the second.
By allowing myself that first thought as a freebie, I could simply say, “Man, that thought was bat-$#!+ crazy” and discard it as if I was throwing away a snot-filled tissue. Think about that a second… who pulls out a gnarly tissue to contemplate its usefulness? Unless you’re slightly nuts, nobody. You pitch it in the garbage without a second thought, lest you try to use it again and end up with a booger on your face.
This line of thinking came from a special I’d listened to on dreams. The doctor being interviewed explained that dreams are the brain’s way of taking out the garbage. That made sense… and if the brain had garbage to take out, what garbage was there?
It only made sense to follow the natural progression and connection that some thoughts are garbage and can be thrown out without contemplation. Thoughts ranging from using again to some really dark $#!+ I can’t politely put in writing (It’s been decades, my friends, since I’ve grappled with thoughts so difficult, but I did. And I won.). They could simply be discarded like a wadded up, snotty tissue. A simple, “Man, that thought was nuts“, with LOTS of practice, became enough to let a dark thought go that would have occupied my mind for days, even weeks.
You get enough nuts rattling around up there, eventually there’s going to be trouble and it becomes difficult to sort through the chatter with all that banging going on up there.
That simple exercise and recognition, very early in recovery, completely changed my life.
Breathing never would have stopped that hamster wheel. I needed deeper work and understanding before the easy, low-hanging fruit could be dabbled in. Nowadays, breathing is great and works a treat. Back then it was a pea shooter at a freighttrain.
And so, with that, when I happen on a real post that can do real good to help someone who is sick like I was, I have to share it (and along with it, a fairly long story of my own).
If you need to shut the hamster wheel down and struggle with it, click the link above for a chance at relief. And remember this above all else: you’re not necessarily sick, the thoughts you entertain are. And now you know you don’t have to entertain them anymore.