My Brain is Too Busy to Meditate – False

April 28, 2013 Natasha Tracy

Recently I have been taking a mindfulness meditation course. This is pretty amazing seeing as I’ve always felt my brain was not still enough to meditate – not to mention, I’m pretty sure I don’t believe in all this new age stuff (although, technically, meditation is very, very old age stuff).

But I went anyway because mindfulness meditation has been shown to be beneficial for all sorts of mental illnesses (not surprisingly, particularly anxiety) and I try to be open to anything that may help-plus, bonus, no side effects.

And one of the things I had heard is that when you meditate you need to not think. Your mind is supposed to go blank. You become absent of thought.

But this turns out to be false.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness has been defined in many ways, but one I like is: “purposefully paying attention, in the present moment and without judgement.” So, notice the two parts. You are here and now and you are not judging yourself and your thoughts. Both those parts are really important.

Mindfulness meditation is different things to different people but I can tell you that it involves deep breathing, a mental scanning of the body and a few other things. And yes, it does involve sitting and looking like you’re doing nothing although chanting and “ohm-ing” is not required.

A Busy Brain and Mindfulness Meditation

The thing is, while you’re focusing on your breath or while you’re scanning your body or while you’re beaming kindness and love (really) your mind wanders. It just does. As my instructor said to us, the brain is simply an organ and its job is to think. It does that job all the time. You can’t ask your brain to stop thinking any more than you can ask your heart to stop beating.

But what matters is the mindfulness of thought. So, for example, if I’m in a deep relaxation and I’m focused on my breath all meditate-y-like and something like tomorrow’s speech pops into my head, I need to be mindful of that thought. I need to see that thought, wave goodbye to it and go back to focusing on my breath and not judge my brain for wandering. Brains wander; it’s okay.

And the best part is, that moment when you realize that you’re thinking about laundry instead of meditating is your moment of mindfulness. It is literally the thing you’re striving for. You’re striving for a moment where you are truly in the here and the now and you’re succeeding when you realize that you brain has strayed and you need to bring it back. Congratulations, you’ve achieved mindfulness.

Meditating with a Busy Brain

So, in all honesty, when I’m meditating, my brain wanders a lot. Like, a lot a lot. But that’s okay. Luckily, without judgement, I don’t mind. I just pick it up by the scruff of its neck and move it back to where it’s supposed to be.

And you can do that too. Someone might try to tell you that having a blank mind is your goal, but, in my understanding, it really isn’t. It’s focus. And it’s a committal to focus when you wander. And even the busiest bipolar brain can handle that. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is doable, so don’t write off the idea. I’m finding mindfulness meditation very interesting and you may too.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2013, April 28). My Brain is Too Busy to Meditate – False, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 14 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleTwitter, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

Tanya J Peterson
April, 30 2013 at 7:55 am

I have studied the idea of mindfulness. There's a wealth of research supporting its positive impact on well-being. When I intentionally practice it, it really does make a difference. Your post on mindfulness meditation comes at a very ironic time. As part of my current mixed episode of Bipolar I disorder, my mind is racing even faster than it usually does. I spent a great deal of time last night attempting to calm my mind with meditation. While I was listening to the meditation tracks on my iPod, my mind was zinging around, but I was able to refocus, and refocus again. And again. And yet again. I actually achieved a state of semi-relaxation. Then when the track was done, I was back to square one. I will say, though, that the marginal success was still success, and even temporary, quasi-calm is a welcome respite. With consistent, regular practice, I think the quasi-calm could transform into calm, albeit temporary. I'll take what I can get!

May, 4 2013 at 8:01 am

I have a mind/brain that never stops. It is like duracel battery :-) it keeps going and going and going. I actually write all the news content for my website, plus do all the updates.In addition, I read books, research papers, about 20 news website each day. I am thinking about dinner, kids, husband. Then after that new ideas and inventions next, as I am always thinking about improving and perfect things that I have etc etc. Sometimes I go to bed and I have to get up in the middle of the night and write things down. It is a lot I know.
However, I have me time when, I do try to input a little yoga & running. I have my quiet time, when I shut everything down and meditate - 30 minutes is good. I also do running and play games. It is challenging to meditate and stay focus. It is however imperative, so I do get it done. One thing at a time. Some-one also gave me a meditation techniques that I can find right now also-not sure what it is called. Nice article

May, 8 2013 at 12:48 pm

I was always under the false impression that to meditate your brain had to come to a complete standstill which is impossible. This clarifies a lot of things.

June, 6 2013 at 7:28 am

I've taken a couple of meditation classes (for lack of a better word), and for one whose mind is constantly noisy, it is challenging. I had a great experience once, while meditating on a moving train. It seems your mind is trying to process the tension your body is holding. As the train jolted to and fro, my body would tense up and my mind followed by becoming distracted. Eventually, I gently went with the rhythm of the train. A couple days later, in a class about the mind-body relationship and meditation, the instructor asked us how you can tell your body and mind is in synch? To me, its when your body simply is. Using the moving train example, when my body stopped trying to adjust to every jolt of the train and simply moved with it, my mind stopped trying to anticipate and just rested in the moment. Of course that feeling didn't last too long, and for the life of me, I can't really determine how that happened, but I did "get it" at that moment. Then, unfortunately, the moment someone dogmatic entered the picture, I ceased becoming interested in it. Oh well. I'll take whatever moment I can get that is my own. Too bad some people feel the need to pollute another's experience. I really hate that.

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