What Is Metathinking?

An exercise in mindfulness. (Iceland, 2013)
Check in with yourself right now.
How does your body feel?
Are you grounded? Standing firmly on both feet?
Take a deep breath.
Are you hydrated?
Go drink a glass of water. Give yourself permission to take the next 5 minutes to yourself.

Sit down and get centered in your body.
What are you thinking?
When your first thought comes up, don’t give it any attention. Say hello to it, recognize its existence, then let it go and take another breath.
Keep breathing. Deep and slow.
When another thought comes up, breathe it in. Use your breath to gather up all of the bits and pieces of your thought like it’s a vacuum cleaning out your mind. Make sure to get all of the cobwebs in the corner!
Exhale everything in your lungs and let go of every bit of the thought.
Come back to your breath. When you have another thought, vacuum it up with your inhale, release it with your exhale, then come back to your body.
If you’ve never cleaned out your brain before, it’s gonna take a lot longer than if you do this every day. It’s okay if it takes awhile! It’s okay if you keep having to clean a little bit more deeply! It’s okay if thoughts just keep popping up! Use your breath to clear out the thoughts as they come up and then come back to your breathing.
You might not ever get to a place where you’re able to do this for minutes on end without a thought. And that’s okay too!
The practice is the point.

It’s called a meditation practice for a reason

Oh yeah, did you notice? We just meditated! It wasn’t that bad, was it? It’s actually really refreshing once you get the hang of it.
I thought I hated meditation until about 6 months ago. It was around the same time that I started seeing a therapist. She helped me learn how to deflate the power of my inner critic by recognizing that it has no real power over me.
This realization, combined with a more regular meditation practice, has been transformative. I’ve learned that when my brain starts spinning off, I can check in with my body real quick and come back to the moment.
Once I learned how to stop giving my thoughts power, I was able to bring mindfulness beyond my meditation practice. During arguments, I learned how to take a step back and check in with myself. I could ask myself a series of questions to come back to the moment.
  • What am I angry about? Am I upset about the situation, or am I just tired/hungry/feeling vulnerable?
  • How are those emotions impacting how I react to this situation at hand?
  • How can I communicate with more honesty and truth in this moment?
I also started to look at the world a little bit differentlyInstead of asking which city should win the new Amazon headquarters, I would think, “Why are cities pledging to spend incredible amounts of the money that we pay in taxes to bring in a company that paid no Federal tax last year? And that treats its workers like replaceable robots?”
That’s metathinking. Taking a step back and looking at the systems and processes that are underneath the thought at hand. Going one step further in your thinking.

Metathinking is about bringing mindfulness into every aspect of your life

It’s hard. It takes practice. And it can be painful as you realize the world might not be what you thought.
But trust me,
It’s worth the effort!

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