Video: How to Stop Excessive Thinking (a.k.a. anxiety)

One of the most common "symptoms" of anxiety is excessive thinking. Ironically, this behavior is also one of the key ingredients that sustains our anxieties. So if you ever wondered why anxiety can be so repetitive or circular it is because it produces and is sustained by the same behavior - excessive thinking.

In the short (11 minutes) video below, Eckart Tolle speaks briefly about the nature of such excessive thinking and offers a few tips on how to step away from those mental ruts. I particularly like his metaphor of a dog following a scent to describe our thinking minds. Just as a dog stops suddenly to investigate a small scent, so too does our mind acknowledge a new thought. Then as the dog starts following the scent with its head to the ground unaware of where it is heading or what is going on around it, so too does our mind following a thought trail blindly. As the dog might lifts its head five minutes later only to realize that it doesn't know where its master is, so too might we become aware that we were lost in thought for several minutes. Surely it is as easy for any of us (not just anxious folks) to get lost in thoughts just as a dog so easily latches onto a scent.

Eckhart Tolle also offers some advice on how to release ourselves from excessive thinking, particularly by promoting what he calls "presence" or what others might call "mindfulness." It can be as simple as having small pointers scattered around our car, or office, or home. It sounds hokey, but imagine seeing such pointers dozens of times each day, and imagine that each time you are reminded of mindfulness and jarred from any rutted thoughts. Tolle also suggests practicing observing the world around you without judging what you are observing. This practice could simply be to take 10 minutes at lunch and gaze at the things around you, settling on one object after another, naming them if you have to, but practicing observing it without judging or evaluating it.

These are just a few practical things that folks struggling with anxiety can do to help resist the excessive thinking that drives that anxiety. To learn a little more, watch the full video below.