My name is Gabrielle and I’m a recovering over-thinker.
“Recovering” is the operative word. For the past 15 years, I’ve worked hard to overcome my addiction to over-thinking.
I was 16 when I realized I was addicted to my thoughts. These thoughts were merely fearful illusions I’d created based on my past experiences and my uncertainty about the future. I was totally consumed by my thoughts and they often manifested in the form of funky behavior. For instance, I’d control, manipulate and obsess over all situations and outcomes. I was in a perpetual state of fear, which affected every area of my life. My mind would fixate on everything from would happen when I went to college to wishing I hadn’t eaten so much. Eventually, these thoughts led to a severe anxiety disorder with no recourse.
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Seeking serenity, I turned to my mother for help. In true hippie-mom style, she lit some incense and sat my ass down on a meditation pillow. At the time my mother was a devotee of Gurumayi, the head of the Siddha Yoga lineage. The Siddha Yoga community uses the mantra Soham. (For the unfamiliar, a mantra is a word or group of words that guides you to a single, pointed focus, and “Soham” means “I am that” in Sanskrit.) My mother proceeded to teach me how to use this mantra while connecting to my breath. This mantra meant nothing to me at the time, but I was willing to try anything to calm my incessant thoughts. I followed my mother’s lead, refocusing my mind by breathing in “Sooooooo” and breathing out the “Hummmm.” She suggested I use this mantra throughout the day, whenever I felt pangs of anxiety. Each time I’d turn to this mantra, my mind would soften more and more. To my surprise, meditation worked.
A few weeks into my meditation practice, I decided to take a weekend trip to the beach with some friends. In the middle of dinner, I noticed my fearful panic set in. I excused myself from the table and went upstairs to meditate. I sat in the guest room of my friend’s beach house, repeating my mantra.
“Soooo – Hummmm – Soooo – Hummmm– Soooo – Hummmm.”
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Within minutes, my energy shifted. My fear subsided and my mind calmed. Then my extremities began to tingle. I became overwhelmed with a feeling of joy and peace, as if I were wrapped in a blanket of love. This was my first encounter with my ~ing, or inner guide.
I spent the next nine years searching for this same experience. I dipped in and out of my meditation practice, typically returning to it upon hitting a bottom of some kind. For instance, when I’d be coming down from drugs or while going through a break-up I’d turn to my practice for some serenity and pick up my meditation tools for a day or so and feel better right away. As soon as serenity settled in, I’d revert to my old fearful thinking and controlling behavior.