5 Cures For Your Wandering Mind

The mind states or hindrances are a set of Buddhist concepts that deal with what our minds are doing when we aren’t showing up in the moment. These mind states are what pull us from our present experience, and create suffering.  Luckily for us, early Buddhists were also brilliant in coming up with a cure for each of the fluctuations of the mind.


Want, lust, greed, clinging, attachment, addiction, neediness or lack, pleasure sense experiences, or daydreaming about a friend or colleague.  Desire can occur anytime we start to envision a “better” future, which is great for goal-setting, but maybe not right when it detracts from our moment-to-moment experience.

Cure: Commitment and holding to what is presently there. Recommitting to it with affirmations, or a personal creed you read daily to remind you of your value system.


Anger, boredom, negativity, judgment, fear, repulsion, hatred, ill-will, wanting it to be different, planning-mind. Byron Katie says, “When I argue with reality, I lose - but only 100% of the time.”

Cure: Generate loving thoughts for what you find an aversion for.  It will feel phony at first, because it is! But continue to breath, relax, feel, watch, and allow.

Cure 2: Look at how you can “co-create” with the moment, taking what you are given. Make the moment saucy, given the cards you are dealt.


Sloth is probably one of the more common mind states in a society where we are constantly inundated with flashing pictures, voices, smells, and action all around. It zaps energy, and leaves us tired, mentally scattered, and usually feeling like a blob on the couch with a favorite sweet or salty snack.

Cure: One-pointed concentration. By concentrating, you are shoring up your scattered resources of energy to focus on your moment-to-moment experience and all the wonderful things happening around you.


When we can’t sit still, worry, get anxious, make something out of nothing, fret, regret, grieve or ruminate.  Depressants and alcohol only mask these symptoms, and throw ice cubes in the boiling water, rather than turning off the burner.

Cure: Instead, find determination by lengthening the inhale and exhale, and softening the jaw. As Dale Carnegie says, “Relax in odd moments.  Let your body go limp like an old sock.” Is now a good time for a savasana break?


Creating the most suffering of the mind states is doubt. This is also the hardest mind state to notice, because it can be easy to believe, and the hardest to move out of.  Doubt can range from our insecurities, regrets, making ourselves or our experience wrong.

Cure: Sustain your attention in the heat of the moment, cultivate confidence and take massive action when you are struck with inspiration.

The Limbic System

Researchers from the University of Toronto, Zindel Segal and Adam Anderson, are finding that internal awareness such as tuning into the breath, turns off the frontal cortex, or the mental chatter part of the brain where the mind states fester, and moves to our more ancient brain, the limbic system, where we feel emotion and physical awareness.

Yoga and other contemplative practices move us towards slowing down the fluctuations of the mind. These cures also give us greater reward by challenging the nervous system and brain to grow, by mentally doing what might not be the easiest or most convenient shift of thinking in that moment.


Maybe one or all of these resonate for you. Over the next 24 hours, see which mind state your mind floats to most.  Do this by noticing the thoughts that come up by labeling the mind state, and let the thought float on past the screen of your consciousness. Journal about why you tend to shift towards a particular mind state more than others or the moment you’re in.  Then focus on one way you can fit its cure into your lifestyle, leading to more productivity and moment-to-moment happiness.

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MattCookeYoga, posted on February 19, 2013

@RebeccaO Congrats! Starting is 80% of the battle! Take a look at those action steps at the end of the article to work on if you are interested!

RebeccaO, posted on February 19, 2013

Thank you for this. I have been stuggling with my thoughts and how my mind wanders for as long a I can remember. Over the last few years I've taken some small, but significant steps that have made a really big difference. Seeing those changes has inspired some recent attempts to go deeper into controling my negative tendencies and I've started meditating. These tips will be a nice addition to my efforts both in and out of meditation! :)

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