565: Answers to overthinking from Ayurveda

In this week's Anxiety Slayer podcast, we're responding to a listener question and sharing some teachings from Ayurveda on the nature of the mind and how to calm a restless mind.



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Notes from this week’s episode:

Listener question: “My biggest problem right now is overthinking. It’s so bad I can’t concentrate. What’s best for this?”

A quick look at how Ayurveda sees the mind

Ayurveda teaches that the mind is the coordinator of the information brought in by the five senses. 

It functions as the screen on which input from the senses is gathered and analysed. 

For example, through the mind what the eyes see and the ears hear are combined to make sense of the incoming information.

The mind is regarded as the sixth sense, in Ayurveda because it’s compiling all the incoming information from the senses and adding a mental and emotional component.

Understanding the stream of thought 

The mind is a river of thought. Like a river, it might flow gently, or it might have rapids, it might be clear, or it might be polluted.

One thing is certain: it’s always moving.

Left to its own devices, the mind will always start spinning stories and pull us down a rabbit hole.

When we are in balance and have good mental and emotional resilience, our intelligence sees what the mind is doing and checks it. When we are out of balance, we follow the mind right down the hole.

We have a relationship of influence with our mind if we think fearful thoughts the flow of the mind becomes fearful, if we have positive thoughts the mind becomes happier.

The mind becomes our persistent thoughts, those thoughts then affect our experience of life. 

Often we feel at the mercy of our mind, but we have the power of influence over it. We influence it by our choices in lifestyle, diet, entertainment, and the company we keep. One of the best ways to influence the mind is to keep good company.

Ayurveda offers the oldest understanding of what we now call neuroscience. 

Brain cells that fire together, wire together. Fortunately, we can rewire our minds.

Health is a matter of continual adjustment, like sailing a ship upon the sea. It cannot be permanently achieved. David Frawley Ayurveda and the Mind
— David Frawley Ayurveda and the Mind

How to help build peace in the mind and calm over thinking 

Slow the stream of thoughts

Avoid stimulants: in diet and in habits


Rest the senses

Go offline

Ignoring the mind

Don’t feed unwanted thoughts with attention. When we give attention and react as if our chattering thoughts are causes for concern rather than just passing debris in the stream of thought, we increase their intensity and energy.

Practice redirection

Reading is an effective way to redirect the mind. Keep a book nearby that you find inspiring and engaging. Something that captures your intention but doesn’t increase adrenalin. 

Poetry, spiritual literature, prayer compilations, positive psychology, learning something new. Choose something that holds relevance and interest for you and when the mind starts chattering, switch out to reading as attentively as you can.

Reading aloud works even better because it engages more of our attention.

Immersion in the present moment

Mindful activities that hold the mind in present moment awareness are the key to keeping it managed well.

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