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Ultimate Guide to Mindfulness Meditation for OCD Intrusive Thoughts

Meditation is one of the most frequent mentions of natural remedies for OCD intrusive thoughts, anxiety disorder, depression, and many more mental health-related conditions. Another word that usually comes together with meditation is ‘Mindfulness‘.

I am sure that many of us are still confused over the 2 terms even though you might have practiced meditation for a while. (including me at the beginning stage)

Do you have these queries:

What exactly does mindfulness mean?

Is meditation just sitting down in a quiet place and focusing on breathing?

Is meditation = not thinking of anything?

How can meditation help me with my intrusive thoughts, anxiety, or depression?

I can’t focus during meditation and my mind always wonders. Do I still achieve the benefits of meditation?

If you have had these queries before. Let’s answer all of them today and learn how to actually use meditation to calm your mind from all the OCD intrusive thoughts.

complete guide on meditation for OCD intrusive thoughts

Why Are We Doing Meditation?

Before we start practicing meditation, we need to first re-examine our relationship with our thoughts.

In fact, changing your relationship with your thought is the first step to stopping your intrusive thoughts.

I have explained intrusive thoughts in my last post on what are they and how are they formed. The tip I always mention at first is to change your relationship with your thoughts.

Most of our troubles came from our thoughts, whether are feeling negative about ourselves, overpaying attention to a certain discomfort in the body, ruminating on the past, self-criticism, or OCD intrusive thoughts.

These troubles are all related to our thoughts, and they are not real. It’s not real as they are not an accurate depiction of reality. Some thoughts are based on your subjective imagination, and some are just like fantasies.

Yet we are taking these thoughts so seriously, feeling deeply troubled and overwhelmed with the negative emotions that come along with them.

So the first thing we need to do is to change our relationship with our thoughts. Instead of being carried away by our thoughts and losing track of reality. We need to learn to divert our attention back to the present moment.

What Is Present Moment?

Present moment is what is actually happening right now. Sitting here thinking about the past or planning about the future, or thinking about what to eat later, does not equal living in the present moment.

Living in the present moment means you have to be clearly aware and mindful of what is happening at this very moment.

It will be hard to be mindful of the present moment at the start since we have been in our heads for so long. So we need the help from our bodies to bring back this ability to focus on the present moment again.

How do we do that?

The method is simple. Instead of being carried away by our thoughts, focus your attention on the physical environment and your interactions with the surroundings, such as your physical sensations, your 5 senses, and your breathing.

When we first start the practice of mindfulness, or in other words, the ability to fully be aware of what we are doing and being in the present moment, we can use either of the physical sensations mentioned above as an anchor point to focus on.

The most common method of mindfulness practice is breathing meditation, which is to use our breathing as the anchor point.

If we caught ourselves distracted by our intrusive thoughts, we gently bring our attention back to our breathing. In this process, we start to train our brains to be better focused and aware of the present moment.

So to address the question above:

Is meditation just sitting down in a quiet place and focusing on breathing?

Focusing on breathing is one way to meditate by using breathing as an anchor point to restore your attention from distracting thoughts as mentioned above.

You can also practice meditation in many other ways. Other ways people practice mindfulness include mindful eating by focusing on the food and muscle while chewing, walking meditation, or mindful workout.

Most of these activities emphasize the same concept which is to do your activities with an intention in mind, slowly following the signs of your body while doing them.

Arnold Schwarzenegger said that when he is doing a workout, his mind is involved as well, following every contraction and squeeze of the muscle. “The more I focus on the lift that I’m doing, the more present I am in the moment.”

So meditation is not necessarily only sitting in a quiet place and focusing on breathing. We can do mindfulness activities in many different scenarios. However, sitting in a quiet place and setting some time for yourself daily is a good start for the practice.

The Beginner Guide To Meditation

Meditation become more mainstream in recent years as we see many celebrities publicly talk about how they practice meditation in daily life to manage their mental health and restore peace.

However, the history of meditation can be dated back to as early as 5,000 BCE according to archaeologists. Believed to be originated in India, and it’s practiced in numerous religious traditions.

Benefits of Meditation

  1. More focused and aware of surroundings.
  2. Less intrusive thoughts and self-criticism.
  3. Better regulation of emotions and fewer emotional fluctuations.
  4. Reduce your stress and restore inner calmness.
  5. Increase patience and tolerance.

How To Start Meditation?

Find a comfortable environment where you will not be interrupted or disturbed.

You will likely have more intrusive thoughts at the start which is completely normal. I can’t even sit for 1 minute straight doing meditation when I first started. The key is to be patient with yourself and keep consistency.

Gradually you are able to meditate longer, from 3 minutes to 15 to 30 minutes daily. You can set an alarm or listen to natural sound on Youtube as your background music or a timer.

I really like listening to natural sounds like rivers flowing or next to the ocean. It brings more calmness to me.

You can do meditation exercises any time of the day. Personally, I like to do it 2 times a day, once in the morning and before I sleep.

Meditation before sleep helps me with my insomnia problem too. If I have too much stuff going on during day time or I am in a stressful state, it would be hard for me to fall asleep. A 15 minutes meditation really helps me to clear my mind and enter deep sleep quickly.

Meditation Posture

A good posture is very important in mediation. I think the best posture for beginners is still to sit up straight, either in a chair with feet flat on the floor or on a mat with legs crossed.

Sitting down allows us to get into the state quickly, focus better, and with also fewer distractions compared to standing or walking.

You can also sit in the cross-legged position like above. Keep your spine straight. Don’t slouch, and also not to over straining your back.

If you are feeling uncomfortable in this position, you can sit in a chair as well. Sit towards the edge of the chair so you can keep your back straight, and rest your hands on top of your legs.

You can keep your eyes closed or open with a soft gaze. Breath gently through your nose and out through your mouth.

Try not to fidget or move your hands or adjust your posture during the middle of the meditation. These are also little signs of distractions and you are attending to them instead of focusing on the breathing. So try to find a good posture from the start is very important, find a comfortable position that can allow you to sit easily and with calmness.

3 Types of Meditation You Can Start With

  1. Unguided Meditation
  2. Counting Meditation
  3. Affirmation Meditation

Unguided meditation will be simply that you are sitting in a quiet environment, paying attention to your own natural breathing without any guidance.

Counting meditation is my favorite type of meditation that really helps me to focus on my breathing. I count 1 when I breathe in and out counting 0. Repeat. Simple as that.

You can also count from 1 to 10 with each inhale and exhale, and then back to 1 again. I really recommend you to try this out if you find it hard to focus through an unguided meditation.

Affirmation meditation is similar to counting meditation but replaces counting numerically on the inhalation and exhalation with affirmation phrases. It can be a very powerful exercise for positive thinking and self-empowerment. You can repeat the positive phrases/mantras out loud or in your thoughts.

For example, when you are inhaling, give yourself a positive affirmation such as “I am at peace, calm and happy”. When you are exhaling, say in your mind “I release all my stress, worries, and tensions”.

Feel the peace and calmness slowly take their place in your mind while all the intrusive voices quiet down.

Common Beginner Queries

I can’t focus during meditation and my mind always wonders. Do I still achieve the benefits of meditation?

The answer is yes if you keep up the consistency of the practice.

Just like you are doing physical training on the muscle. It takes weeks or months of consistent exercise before the muscles show definite shape. Meditation exercise works the same.

As long as you are being mindful of your distractions, and putting in the effort to bring your attention back to your breathing or present moment. You are training your brain to be more focused.

Eventually, you will be better at focusing on the present moment instead of being carried away by your thoughts.

The key is to be patient with yourself and keep up the consistency.

Is meditation = not thinking of anything?

Definitely not.

Meditation is to be mindful and aware of the present. If you are zoning out or even falling asleep during a meditation session, that’s definitely not right!

Some Tips For Beginners

When I was a beginner, my biggest setback is definitely having too many intrusive thoughts during a practice session, and the fact that I couldn’t shut down all the voices in my head made me agitated and feel all negative about myself.

It’s common for beginners, especially if we have too much going on in our minds daily, and sitting still in one spot might feel a little boring.

Here are my 4 recommendations for keeping up the consistency of meditation.

1. Set It Into Your Daily Routine

Set aside a fixed routine daily for meditation. I love to do it in the morning sitting comfortably with some sunlight pouring in. It feels amazing to start your day with a calming activity.

Do it at the time when you are not rushing for anything, and you can sit there being undisturbed.

If you are feeling agitated or you are overwhelmed with certain emotions, you can do some exercise or positive self-talk to let out your emotions first before you start to meditate.

2. Set Up A Meditation Corner

Setting up a designated calming meditation corner just for the meditation session will help you get into the state and motivate you to take up the exercise.

A cozy corner with warm light and scented candles, and some comfortable cushions of your favorite color. Create an environment that is different than other places in your house.

3. Keep A Mindfulness Journal

My favorite part about meditation is that I always will have some insights from the session. I learned more about finding balance and calmness through these sessions, and I like to document my reflections and progress on this journey.

Keeping a mindfulness journal is another great tool for mental health care and tracking your progress.

I have prepared a free printable all-in-one mindfulness journal for our subscribers. You can collect by subscribing below, or reading more about it here.

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4. Treat Every Meditation Practice As An Enjoyable Alone Time

At first, I did a meditation with a purpose in mind. I want to achieve all the benefits instantly. This led to me feeling frustrated and angry when I am not able to focus long or keep up the consistency.

I gradually reframed my mindset from pursuing a goal to simply a quiet time by myself to relax and restore my inner peace.

With the change in mindset, you are able to feel even calmer through the session and feel the deep relaxation in your brain.

Start Your Practice Today

Now you have everything you need to start your first meditation practice, let’s embark on this amazing journey today.

Believe me, you will discover magic in this journey.

We can’t change the past and neither we can forecast the future. Let’s all set our vision to the present from this moment onwards. With more practice in meditation, the better you will get.

So be patient with yourself and keep up the consistency.

Looking forward to hearing about your amazing learnings and journey in meditation!

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