I’m a Meditation Expert—Here’s How I Befriended My Mind

Photo: Getty Images/pixelfit
People think an average of 80,000 thoughts per day, 80 percent of which are negative. As brilliant as the human mind can be, it's natural to wish that we all had a pre-programmed, "do not disturb" feature for the times when we just wanted some peace and quiet. Since none of us are blessed with such an ability, it's important to learn not just how to clear your mind but to calm it. And Ellie Burrows Gluck, co-founder and CEO of New York City's MNDFL  meditation studio, says that she has four tools in her toolkit for doing just that.

"Meditation is without question my number one go-to for de-exciting the mind, but I find there are a couple of other things that also be effective for me personally," says Gluck, who's certified in Vedic tradition of meditation. "I love a follow-along dance class at Body By Simone where I have to use my mind to learn the steps. That kind of direct focus paired with the endorphin release is a pretty powerful combo for quieting my mind and releasing stress." Moving to the beat has also been linked with overall better cognitive health, so why not crank Lizzo and bust a move?

When she's not dancing her way to a more accommodating mind, Gluck says that the simple act of touch can help refresh her brain. "Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed, hugging my husband and talking to him is very soothing. He's a safe haven, I find him to be deeply comforting and helpful when my mind is racing," she says. So if you find yourself racing to keep up with the speed of your thoughts, hit pause and hug someone you love. Dare you.

"Meditation changes how we relate to our thoughts, it doesn't eliminate them entirely." —Ellie Burrow Gluck, co-founder and CEO of MNDFL

Last, but certainly not least, Gluck says she makes a point of talking to her therapist on a regular basis. "I am lucky enough to be able to attend therapy regularly which allows me to meet my mind in a really vulnerable and constructive way," the meditation teacher says.

Overall, Gluck stresses the point that she's trying to befriend, not antagonize, her mind. We cannot press the snooze button the firing of our own brain cells—on or off the meditation cushion.

"We will never have control over our thoughts the way we fantasize we might. So when we practice on the cushion and become aware that we are no longer focused on our breath or mantra and our mind has wandered to our to-do list, what we’re going to eat for dinner, or the fight we had with a partner, we have an option to gently, lovingly, and without judgment return to the object of our meditation," she says. "Meditation changes how we relate to our thoughts, it doesn't eliminate them entirely."

Rather than yelling at all the uninvited guests upstairs to GTFO, try bringing them into your inner-circle—whether that means dancing, hugging it out, or confiding in a listening ear.

Dance with your thoughts:

Try therapeutic cooking if you can't sit still for meditation. And if you're having trouble sleep, try "slow lit.

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