States of Mind

The ability to identify what state of mind you are in at any moment is key to taking control of your mind and your behavior. The word mind refers to a way of thinking and acting. Our goal is to access Wise Mind, which is where our inner wisdom and intuition live. However, we also often experience Emotion Mind and Reasonable Mind.

In Emotion Mind, your feelings and urges are in control of your way of being and thinking. You are controlled by emotion, logical thinking is difficult, you may act impulsively, and others could view you as ”hot-headed” or “too intense”.  When you are in Emotion Mind, you may experience:

  • feelings of rage
  • muscle tension
  • extreme thoughts 
  • sweating or perspiring 
  • racing heart 
  • the urge to fight or flee 
  • raising your voice
  • yelling or screaming at someone

In Reasonable Mind, you ignore emotions as a part of your decision making. In this state of mind, you will often feel detached and have difficulty connecting with the emotion you or others are experiencing. You could come across as cold and unfeeling in relationships where some type of emotion is needed.

In Wise Mind, you use both logic and emotion to make wise decisions that help you with your long-term goals. 


Knowing your state of mind, can help you:

Choose to think (and act) differently

Know if you are in a danger zone for target behaviors



Mindfulness Exercises to Find Wise Mind

Walking down the spiral stairs. Here is an audio recording

  • Imagine that in you is a spiral staircase, winding down to your very center. Starting at the top walk very slowly down the staircase, going deeper and deeper within yourself.
  • Notice the sensations. 
  • Rest by sitting on a step, or turn on lights on the way down if you wish. 
  • Do not force yourself further than you want to go. 
  • Notice the quiet. As you reach the center of yourself, settle your attention there—perhaps in your gut or your abdomen.

Breathing “Wise” in, “Mind” out.

  • Breathing in, say to yourself, “Wise”;   breathing out, say “Mind.”
  • Focus on the word “Wise,” then, focus on the word “Mind.”
  • Continue until you sense that you have settled into Wise Mind.

Dropping into the pauses between inhaling and exhaling.

  • Breathing in, notice the pause after inhaling (top of breath).
  • Breathing out, notice the pause after exhaling (bottom of breath).
  • At each pause, let yourself “fall into” the center space within the pause.

Just this one moment. 

  • When you feel stressed, say “Just this one moment. Just this one task.” 
  • Remind yourself that your only job is to do one thing in the moment – wash one dish, take one step, move one set of muscles. 

Two Wolves.

In this mindfulness exercise, read the passage below and ask yourself which State of Mind you are in right now (wise mind, emotion mind, reasonable mind) AND which State of Mind you want to be in. Reflect on the “wolf” you feed and how that impacts your mood, behavior, and outlook on life.