Meditation or Obsessive thinking?

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    … I hope this is the correct place for this post.

    I’m currently working through a divorce and will soon be moving out on my own for the first in my life. I’m finding in my meditation practice that when I try to focus on a subject and observe, I get lost in a story that eventually moves to obsessive thinking. I don’t even realize I’m lost in it. I understand that its a stressful time and I’m trying to be kind with myself but I’m coming out of meditation emotional, even grouchy. If I meditate on nothing but a still mind, I fall asleep. (I’ve been doing this sort of mediation since I was a teen, so it’s kind of hardwired.) It sounds silly but, I feel like I’m doing it wrong.

    How can I meditate on a subject without obsessing?



    I’m sympathetic to you in this stressful time, and applaud your mindfulness which allowed you to realize what you were doing wasn’t helping. It can be exasperating, but its not a bad place to start!

    Consider a counting breath meditation, which is helpful for an agitated mind. Ajahn Jayasaro has a great video on YouTube called “counting breaths”.

    It does sound as though your meditation time has turned into a thinking time, which is fine and normal. Instead of viewing the thoughts as distracting, consider them like stress leaving the body. By doing a counting breath meditation, we can use that stress to develop concentration, and open up the space around them so they can be free. Otherwise it may be more like a balloon, where the mind absorbs the thoughts until it is full, and returns the stress to the body cyclically.

    With warmth,

    Bipin Sharma

    Thanks Matt, Hope this will help me too.


    Fantastic! Thank you very much Matt. I watched the video and I think this may be very helpful. I also found that he and his monastery have resources available on iTunes as podcasts.

    Thank you again! You’re a true asset to this community. <3



    Hi Amy:
    When you meditate, you should not focus on your thoughts but let them enter your mind and then drift out of your mind, don’t give them attention.


    Thanks Matt and Nicole!

    These are great tips! I will definitely have to check out “counting breaths”


    I blewup my life after a 10yr rerelationship breakup.. I let the outside control the inside instead of the other way around…I’m still in quicksand at times it seems…stuck in the past

    It is really hard for me to drop my attachment to others.

    In anger management my counselor once asked me…
    He said
    Be as honest as you can be about what emotion or response you chose.
    I will agree if you can answer to yourself
    “How is this helpful”
    (I didn’t listen )

    Shad Helmstetter
    How do I feel about this?
    How would I like to feel about this
    How do I choose to feel about this
    How do I feel about this now?

    It isn’t so simple but with changing focus and as hard as it is…to realize just like the bodybuilder…squeezing more out ..putting 110% into it that they then get the results.. our emotions atrophy…sometimes..the emotions of self love…atrophy over time…

    Seek to soften the thoughts as they emerge…letting them float by like clouds in the sky…the clouds do not vanish instantly…they sort of soften out and become less volatile and boomy

    Currently you are experiencing thunder clouds booming and lightning striking… This too shall pass… You have a lot of control over the booms 🙂 but only by making friends with them and knowing their effects on you…

    During meditation it is good to remember moments or people or friends animals flowers etc that bring a smile to our face. That is important all the time but they can help soften your thoughts… Pema talks about how we really really do make most everything larger than it really is… Iirc “we really make things a Big Deal” we fan the flames

    She even said when we catch ourselves having those thoughts…to just, with incredible gentleness..and precision..when we find ourselves thinking…like a feather touching a bubble…just say “thinking” and let the thought go”



    I’ve found that when your mind seems to be leaning towards becoming obsessive, its good to find yourself a guided meditation on what your going through. Whenever your mind starts to drift towards obsessive, angry, leading thoughts, the continuing soft words will bring its focus back to the matter at hand. I had the exact same problem when my relationship fell apart and I used forgiveness meditations to calm my thoughts and focus them towards more positive peaceful thinking.

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