Scientist, engineers, physicists, and the like have for ages attempted to create something that will perhaps be the single most impossible thing to do. A Time Machine. We’ve read the books, we’ve read the stories, and pretty much agree they’ve been sci-fi for the most part. I don’t mean to upset any future-time-machine-creators when I say “You’re going to need all the luck you can find,” because in reality, what they’re trying to re-create is the mind.

The mind is the only organism on the planet that is capable of transporting one to another time, outside of the current reality. It has the ability, that despite the actual physical state, to relive experiences of the past, or transport us into the future towards dreams or even fears. It’s capable of what I like to call “mind trippin’.”

You might consider “daydreaming.” We’ve all been there, and with research that suggests our minds can wander upwards of 40% of the time, it’s no wonder that around 10am each morning I’m already dreaming up what lunch is going to be. No harm, no foul right?

The ultimate difference between day dreaming and mind trippin’ is that day dreaming can be neutral or positive in nature, while mind trippin’, as I’ve defined it, can invoke fear, shame, anxiety, or worry. Mind trippin’ when left to the chaos of its own terms, is the definition of mental health conditions like anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.

With mind trippin’ the mind creates an alternate reality and experiences hard emotions, negative thoughts and reactive actions that reflect the imagined reality [not the present/current reality]. Think of the war vet, who comes back home and runs for cover when he hears an exhaust backfire. Think of the mom who starts calling every major hospital after her teenager doesn’t answer the phone when out. They’re reacting based off an alternate reality that feeds off major fears, doubts, and insecurities.

So remember the mind trip causes the mind to “leave” and wander off to a place in the future or the past that prompts anxiety and/or fear. Here are a few ways to get the mind back to the present reality:

  1. Command your mind to “go white” then imagine a giant stop sign. Imagery and visual cues can be really helpful in simply slowing down the mind.
  2. Reground yourself with slow and deep “belly breaths.” This means when you inhale, the breath causes the belly to rise (NOT the chest); on the exhale, the belly should flatten. Repeat this three times.
  3. 3, 2, 1– say out loud three things you can see, two things you can feel, and one thing you can hear. This is you body’s way of literally reminding the body of where you are (ex: “No Tommy, you’re not in Afghanistan anymore, you can see your TV, your dog, and that chips bag. You can feel your nikes on your feet and the ring on your finger. You can hear your wife doing dishes.”)

Remember, the simplest of strategies can sometimes be the most difficult to apply. The above strategies are like anything else, they will only get better with practice- the more often you do it, the better off you will be at using it when you need it. Leave a comment below of times you’ll try one of these techniques out.