Quit Brooding Over Your Problems. Instead Start Meditating — Now. Here’s Why?
“I have a problem — I keep thinking about my problems. My mind distills one pressing problem and then broods over it. I brood so much that sometimes I lose track of the problem itself. I have become a compulsive brooder.”
Do you relate to this? Does it happen to you sometimes? Or often?
It used to happen to me a lot. Even a slightest trouble would take me off balance pretty fast and I would keep brooding over it for a long long time. As I said I had become a habitual brooder.
The Chain Reaction
I had a friend who claimed that he could invent new problems just by starting to brood over one. And then with those newly invented problems he could invent even more new problems to brood over. He thought he had a creative ability to invent problems. He thought he was very happy.
A test: if for each problem, he could invent 2 new problems every 5 minutes, then how many problems would he have invented by the end of the day? That is a mathematical problem.
I don’t know the actual number, but it would surely be a chain reaction of problems exploding in his head like an atomic bomb.
How would he keep track of so many problems? Would he remember what he started off with? I don’t think he really invented any new problems. This is what was happening with him.
Brooding is a Bad Movie in a Loop
Brooding is not a state where your intelligence becomes sharp. Or, you become very creative at creating something new.
Instead, you are taken over by an emotional loop. The only intelligence at work is the one that helps you run the loop. Then your memory comes into action and keeps exercising same stuff all over again in your head.
The aspects of intelligence & memory, that help solve problems, take a back seat. They subsides in the background.
So, my friend had a delusion that he was inventing new problems. Rather, he was just munching on one problem. It just that he never remembered.
I think human brain can only brood over one problem at a time. Once you start brooding, you only create extensions of that one problem, move it forward and thicken the plot. After sometime, you don’t even invent new scenes. It’s just the same set of scenes repeating like one bad movie running in a loop.
Let’s brood, shall we?
Start a problem in your head.
Think of some bad situation. Like, “I don’t have money and I was insulted”.
Now brood over it!
I bet after 5 minutes you will be at the same conclusion — “I don’t have money and I was insulted.”
I bet even after 10 minutes you will be at the same conclusion — “I don’t have money and I was insulted.”
After 2 days of brooding, it will be the same.
There will be no fundamental change in your problem. You would have created a story loop, with an underlying theme — “ I don’t have money and I was insulted.”
Chew it like a Cow
It is like cows chewing the cud. Bring out the cud, chew it, swallow it and do it all over again; drooling all the while.
Have you ever wondered, why it happens? What is the mechanics of it? No, not the cows chewing the cud. You brooding.
People might say “Oh its self pity underneath. You should not pity yourself.”
But hey, nobody tells you how not to pity yourself. And now you feel even worse about yourself.
So, I don’t want to take that track. I want to hit brooding on its head; crack it open; dissect it; understand it and then find out what can be done. I want to take a pragmatic approach to stop the habit of brooding.
The Mechanics of Brooding
As I said, I want to unearth the mechanics of brooding. Because once you understand the mechanics you can examine your situation objectively. Then you can make precise effective corrections for yourself.
Instead of blaming yourself with ideas of “self pity, low self esteem, blah blah blah…”, you can take action.
So let’s dive in.
Let’s assume you have a problem something worthy of brooding, say,
“I suffered losses, I was duped and then wrongly accused. Everybody is after me”.
“I missed that opportunity”.
“My time was wasted”.
Think of anything. I am sure, like me, you have something or the other going on in your life to brood over.
How do you feel?
Surely it disturbs you and gives rise to unpleasant emotions. And if it is really a burning problem, you even start feeling some kind of burning sensation in your heart and stomach.
Suppose you can’t resolve this problem quickly, how do feel then?
Your feeling of loss gets stronger. The sensation becomes more and more prominent, returning every now and then like a chronic pain. You don’t know what to do.
If you are aware, you will feel an immediate urge to settle this troubling feeling. You will want to get rid of this unpleasantness; this trouble that is burning in your heart. You will feel like resolving it.
At this point your intentions are right — to settle the troubling feeling within you. Because that will put an end to your unpleasantness. And you can go on with your daily life happily.
This is what I call the STATE ZERO.
You have problem. You can’t resolve it. You have an awkward feeling about it. And you feel you can do something about quietening the awkwardness.
What happens next?
The unpleasantness and perception of the problem is backed by surge of emotions, feelings and sensations. These are like waves emerging from your heart.
Imagine a feeling of loss, betrayal or imagine a worry about future. It creates waves of unpleasant feelings pouring out of your heart. They are like these small pulses of energy rising from inside you. You feel a little incoherent as they lash out.
Soon these waves of emotions start bursting out in quick succession. Before you know it, they are lashing out one after the other. You feel weak.
It’s strange there is so much scattered energy bursting from inside you; but you feel weak, incoherent and out of order.
The Whirlpools — The State of No Return
Looking at these waves lashing at you, your immediate reaction is— “Let me power-up my thoughts. Let me think of how I will solve the problem that is bothering me. This will settle my emotions.”
“Let me put an end to my feelings by thinking about a solution. Let me solve the problem in my head. It will eliminate these feelings.”
“ Let me think of some positive thoughts. I will destroy these waves of negativity by the power of positive thinking.”
On one side you are giving a push to your thoughts. You are imagining. You are contemplating your situation. You are planning how you will solve the problem.
You are using the power positive thinking. You are enforcing how righteous you are; how brave you are. This further convinces you that your thoughts are in the right track. Soon the victory will be yours.
On the other side the waves of emotions are lashing on you one after the other.
What you don’t realize what thoughts are sub-consciously doing to the emotions? They are providing a channel to these burst of emotions. Powering them up. Rounding them up. Even when you try to force positive thoughts, they are just circling the emotions faster.
Soon for every thought moved forward there is a corresponding unpleasant emotion. You try to bind that new wave of emotion by the next thought. But you are just circling it back into a whirlpool. You think you are building a reasoning to stop the waves; to reconcile everything; to collect yourself together? But unknowingly you are just creating whirlpools.
So now you end up with small whirlpools of emotions.
Soon you realize what has happened. So you rewind. You go back to the original thought and start all over again.
But now what you have done is — created a perfect loop. The big loop.
You are caught. You have just circled the emotions into one big loop. Combining all of them into one big Vortex.
The Vortex gains more and more power from your thoughts.
You memory keeps driving it. While your emotions keep providing the raw energy.
And now you are Brooding. Sinking. Things are just flying around in your head and heart.
People outside are saying something to you. You can’t hear them.
They shouting “Are you ok? Are you Ok?”
The vortex creates agony and pain. Everything inside and outside hurts you. Everything is gloomy. Flowers are thorny. Moon is piercing arrows. It’s cold.
Eventually your mind gets tired. You reach for the bed.
You feel sleepy but your heart is still bursting with emotions & feelings. You are tired, you are lying on your bed. But you can’t sleep. All you can do is brood.
People are calling to sympathize with you “You looked tensed today. Just relax. Why don’t you take some time-off.”
You find those sweet words comforting for a few seconds. But then the vortex sucks you in. You can’t escape.
Now you are a prisoner of your own creation. You are tired, but the vortex has gained its own life. You keep brooding like an automaton.
This is the mechanics of brooding.
A Few Days Later…
After a few days the vortex becomes weak. Its force has reduced. But your ship is wrecked. You are floating on the debris.
Out of tiredness, forgetfulness or something else, your heart settles down for sometime.
Maybe you have distracted your attention on some other pursuit. It has distracted you enough to temporarily to fade the emotions into the background. But you can feel it. The whirlpools forming from time to time.
There are two things that can happen now.
Either the problem get solved — on its own or you solve it.
Or, you give up.
In both the cases you feel relieved.
But if you hold on to the brooding, there is no relief for you.
Some people keep brooding for years. They are stuck with some long lasting problem. The problem doesn’t seem to end. Neither does it gets solved, nor do you give it up. You are somewhere in between. Waves keep lashing; whirlpools keep building; vortices keep forming; shipwrecks keep happening.
I bet you will agree this is not a good way to solve a problem. Brooding is not the way.
So what can you do now?
Should you give up? Should you let the problem solve by itself? Should you cower?
Let’s Start Over
Now that you have seen the mechanics of brooding and what it does to you, let’s dissect it.
You see, till “State Zero” things were under control. They got out of control when you pumped in your thoughts prematurely to solve the situation.
In the beginning you had the right intention of settling the feelings through awareness. Let’s freeze this idea there.
If the waves arose in our heart, they are going to settle in your heart only. They will not settle in your head. .
But how will you settle them? They are so chaotic. Even positive thinking was useless. The vortex destroyed everything.
Ok look. You have tried the power of thoughts so many times. It only leaves you tired and weak. Why don’t you change it.
But first, you should accept one thing you cannot stop the bursts of these feelings flooding out from your heart. And suppressing your feelings will not help either. It will turn you into a psycho. Once started, these emotions are an unstoppable force. They need a release.
Do you know why these emotions lash out from your heart? It is nature’s way of releasing primitive raw energy from your heart to help you solve the problem. But it is so dispersed, chaotic and uncontrollable, that it turns into a vortex you can’t stop. Something destructive.
So you need something that can transform these bursts of emotions and feelings into a focussed energy. Into something you can channelize.
You need a tool that can consolidate this energy. Something that is more powerful than the emotions. You need a tool that soothes your heart and lets the energy out in a constructive flow. You don’t need thoughts or brooding.
You need Meditation.
PS: Busting a Myth About Meditation
Many people think meditation is about controlling the mind. Stopping the flow of thoughts. No.
It is not about controlling the mind. It is about transforming your wild anguished uncontrollable energy into a controlled useful energy.
That is the meaning of control in meditation. It is not controlling your thoughts.
But What About Thoughts
Don’t worry about them. Do you know what thoughts are meant for?
Thoughts are meant for actioning things. When you want to put things into action in your life, you get thoughts. Thoughts are motion.
Thoughts are not designed for settling things in your heart. They are meant to to set things into action. That’s why they give more energy to your emotions.
Best use of thoughts is to solve problems objectively outside. Right?
You will need them in the end. But not now. Right now your emotions are flooding out. You need meditation.
See the thing is, your heart does not settle its affairs by thinking and reasoning. So you need meditation to streamline & soothe the flow of feelings and emotions.
Brooding is reactive — rash. While meditation is a conscientious, smooth & settling.
The Difficulty in Meditating
One of the biggest difficulty is that by the time you decide to meditate, the vortex has already taken over and maybe you are already shipwrecked.
Though I took my time describing the mechanics of the brooding vortex, in real life it is so subtle and fast that it takes not more than a few seconds or minutes to get into action.
So when you set out to meditate, your head will revolt in discomfort.
It will say, “Hey we have to control this vortex. We have thought so much about it — you and me. Now are you going to drown all of it. Meditation will destroy all of these efforts you have taken to think it through. Even thoughts will be destroyed.”
So what should you do now, when your mind resists?
The trick is you lead your thoughts to say, “We have to sit through a meditation now. We are anyway drowning. I will need you later. I am not abandoning you my friend”.
You cajole your mind into it. Or, you force it. “Next 20 minutes I will just meditate. And after that you and me, we will talk.”
“No. I am not listening. We are meditating. That’s it.”, you put your foot down.
Then immediately sit through a guided meditation. Bear the agony of your thoughts and emotions for next 20 minutes. It can be the most agonizing meditation of your life.
But somewhere in between when that guided meditation is running, you will hit the state of meditation. And like sun emerging through the clouds, you will feel a sigh of relief. Automatically your emotions will settle.
All you have to do is let the meditation take over. It definitely happens sooner or later.
Meditation is transformative. It takes you out of the grip of the vortex. It ends its. It settles thoughts. It soothes your heart. It consolidates the bursts of energy.
You feel relaxed. Calm. You feel as if a nice silky flow of energy is emerging from your heart. Like a settled calm ocean.
Will it Really Happen and Will it Last
It may so happen that the twister is so powerful and your expectation to get something out of meditation so strong that you don’t observe the effects of meditation right away. You feel 20 minutes were wasted.
Or, it may so happen that the effects of the meditation don’t last long enough, the first time you do it. The whirlpools start forming again. Then you feel, “It was all worthless.”
Your thoughts say, “I told you so.”
This happens. Don’t brood and blame yourself. It has happened to me so many times, that in one sitting of meditation I was not able to overcome the surge of emotions.
No problem. You can repeat the meditation after some time. Sit again after 4 hours.
By practicing meditation again and again a few times in a day, you gain control; you gain a certain level of transformation.
Every time you meditate it strengthens the constructive flow of emotions. Meditation transforms the energy of the ravaging emotions into a constructive focused stream. You will feel it . You will know, when it happens.
Now with this transformation you can step up and solve the problem at hand.
Now you have the ideal state — you have a problem to solve, you have a focused positive streamlined flow of energy at your disposal, a calm heart and thoughts ready to get into action. Isn’t that what you wanted?
Bring them thoughts up now. Now is the time to act. This newfound transformative state is perfect to take constructive steps to solve the problem .
It’s your time now.
Wrap up — The RoI of Meditation
If you are struggling with the problem of brooding too much, try meditation. Do it again and again in short intervals of say 4 to 5 hours. 20 minutes or 10 minutes of meditation every 4 to 5 hrs.
You may feel “What? 1 hour in a day, just meditating? That’s a lot. When am I going to do my work?”
Do the calculation yourself.
By letting yourself brood, you will be wasting all of your time & energy. First off, you will be brooding for the entire 24 hours. Then you will continue doing that for weeks. And all the while you will feel weak, dissipated & tired.
Versus, 1 hour spent meditating a day and you have extra energy to solve your problem with a focused mind and calm heart. And you will be able to sleep too.
And the best part is, once you start feeling settled, 20 minutes of meditation a day is enough.
Now, is there any comparison? If you are a business person, you know what RoI you are getting — Is it 1000X? Much more than that.
So go ahead start meditating.
If meditation has created a difference in your life, share you experience in the comments.
Your comments can inspire other compulsive brooders to quit brooding & start meditating.