Surface Breaker: The Mindfulness Technique to Break Negative Thought Cycles
The surface breaker is a mindfulness meditation technique designed to break you free from repetitive negative thought patterns. This is especially useful in securing relief from negative ruminations that turn addicting and uncontrollable.
However, before I give you the surface breaker, I want to talk to you about magic. No, not the Harry Potter kind.
I’m talking about stage performers of magic shows. David Copperfield. Harry Houdini. David Blaine. Those guys. In the context of show business, what makes magic, magic?
Magic = Preparation + Illusion
In the movie, “The Prestige”, there is a famous old Chinese magician who is a hunchback. His star act was that he could make objects as a giant fishbowl appears on an empty table after waving a cloth over the empty table.
The film’s main characters, two aspiring young magicians played by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale, follow the old magician to spy on him, and figures out his secret. They discover that the old magician was not actually a hunchback at all. He just pretended to be. His technique for the magic trick was to carry the large objects between his legs. The objects were hidden from view by the magician’s traditional long Chinese robes.
Because the audience believed he was a hunchback, they never suspected that the magician was simply bent over and shuffling because he is carrying a heavy weight between his legs. The years of pretending to be an arthritic hunchback was his real magic trick.
The real magic in stage magic is in its preparation. Imagine the difficulty that would unfold for the magician, if he or she does not have the adequate setup and was attempting a trick for the first time on stage.
Now, imagine the difficulty that would unfold for you if you wait until a panic attack to apply the surface breaker (or any technique) for the very first time.
If you wait until you see the ex for the first since the breakup to use the surface breaker, you may be too overwhelmed with emotion to even remember the steps of this technique, let alone apply it.
If you have frequent episodes of uncontrollable rumination over a past traumatic event or some existential crises, you are going to have to find time in moments of calmness to rehearse this technique before the storm hits.
The magic in any technique is how much you are willing to prepare for it. You get it. I believe in you. Now, it is time for the surface breaker.
If you have taken any psychology class, you are probably familiar with this picture: the iceberg. The iceberg above the water represents the small conscious mind, the mind that you are aware of. The iceberg below the water represents the vastly more powerful subconscious mind, the mind you are unaware of.
What the textbooks don’t usually talk about is the sky and the ocean. The surface breaker technique uses the sky and the ocean to break you free of your own mind.
Phase One: Fly
Step 1: Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Visualize yourself on top of the iceberg that is your mind. Feel the chatter and the noise echoing off the ice. Just be aware of the noise. Do not join in the chatter. Just observe. You are but an adventurer on top of your own mind. Take at least three slow breaths here but take as many breaths as you need.
Step 2: When you are ready, take an even deeper breath and exhale hard. Imagine as you breathe out, you are taking flight. You are pushing yourself off of the ice that is your mind and upwards into the sky. Take at least three slow deep breaths each one propelling you further upwards into the sky. However, take as many breaths as you need.
Step 3: Float in the sky, above your thoughts. Hang out there. Observe without judgment the beautiful mess that is below. Don’t get involved with the noise. Just enjoy the view. Take at least three long deep breaths here but take as many as you need. Throughout the rest of the exercise, remember to keep breathing, slowly and rhythmically.
Phase Two: Dive
Step 4: When you are ready, take the deepest, longest breath you have taken and dive underneath the water at full speed. Feel the coldness splash around you. Look upon the ice below the water that is your subconscious mind.
Step 5: Witness the glory that is your subconscious mind in front of you. Marvel at its vast size in comparison to your conscious mind. Visualize yourself activate your underwater vision (see movie: Aquaman). Return your attention to the iceberg to see veins of vivid color light up within it. If you look closely you will see that the veins of color take the shape of your brain’s contours.
Step 6: Swim around, underneath, and through the iceberg. Notice the intertwining veins of color within the iceberg. You begin to understand that the intertwinements of color you see represent the twisting and bundling of the many beliefs and emotions you have accumulated throughout your entire life. Be in awe of what you witness as you float in the ocean that rests your subconscious.
Step 7: Swim through the ice and find the veins of color that are inflamed. Observe this inflammation and notice how it runs all the way up into your conscious mind. This is what is causing your overthinking. Study the irritated veins. Is it hot to the touch? Does it itch? Is it bleeding?
Phase Three: Channel the Heart Space
Step 8: Take your hand (physically) and place it above your heart. Feel its pulse. Feel its power. Feel the ancient engine that the gives you life. Your heart gives you life without ever needing anything from you. No matter what, you can trust your heart. Repeat the mantra:
Your heart loves you unconditionally.
It does not matter if you are smart, dumb, rich, poor, hot, or not.
You are worthy of your heart, no matter what you have got.
Your heart knows the answers to whatever your mind has forgot.
With its power, you can untie any knot.
Step 9: Fill yourself up with your heart’s power. Visualize your heart as a channel between this dimension and a dimension filled with pure love and light. Sop that light up. Fill yourself up from the crown of your head to the tips of your toes. Then fill yourself up even more. Be greedy. Fill yourself up with that light until your body is consumed entirely by light.
Step 10: Return your attention to the inflamed entanglement of belief and emotion within the iceberg that is your subconscious mind. Punch a hole through that ice. Break through its surface! Transfuse the power of your heart into the iceberg. Fill your mind with your heart. The iceberg is vast but a speck of your heart’s light is powerful enough to light up the whole thing. You have absorbed millions of specks. Observe the inflammation give way to the soothing power of the light. Feel the bundles untangle. Feel the healing as it travels all the way up to your conscious mind. Stay here and breathe as long as you need.
So that is the surface breaker. Just like a magic trick, the better you prepare, the better the performance. The more you rehearse it, the less likely there will be a mishap on stage when it really matters.
- Practice the Surface Breaker 3x a day for 21 days straight. On the 7th, award yourself with a $5 gift. On the 14th day, award yourself with a $10 dollar gift. On the 21st day, reward yourself with a $20+ gift.
- Record the surface breaker or record someone you know with a voice that you want to hear read it for you.
- Draw the iceberg on a piece of paper. Be very vivid with color and imagination.
Option: If homework one is too much. Try, start by practicing phase 1 of the Surface Breaker 5x a day. Then move on to phase 1 and phase 2. Try opening up your daily meditation practice with the Surface Breaker technique