TREATING ANXIETY AND WORRY
Future tripping leads to anxiety, fear and worry.
Not knowing can be frightening, but worrying about something is not going to help you figure it out.
Fear paralyzes you from moving forward or pushes you into a state of panic.
HOW YOU CREATE ANXIETY
You create anxiety in your body when you are thinking about and anticipating some future event.
I know it is tempting to believe that if you could just figure out what is next, it will cure the anxiety of not knowing.
The only certainty we have though, is right here, right now in the present moment.
You can only be certain of right now and that there will be another now right after that and then another now after that…
Can you remember a time when someone was really present with you – they looked you in the eyes and made you feel like they had no other place they rather be?
Wasn’t that a very calming and reassuring experience?
You can use the technique of saying “whoa” to your racing mind to bring you back to the present moment, where everything else can fall away.
In the now, all is well.
BACK TO THE PRESENT
Nothing brings us faster back to the present moment than our breath.
Stop for a moment and take a deep breath.
Notice your mind settle.
From this place of presence, you can rein and steer your mind back in the direction you would like to head.
One of the best ways to practice bringing your awareness back to the present moment is meditation.
If you are one of those people who say, “I can’t meditate. I’ve tried,” that is all the more reason to keep meditating!
The purpose of meditation is not to have no thoughts, it is to become mindful of how you respond to thoughts.
So if your mind is filled with mean-spirited thoughts, you can learn to relate to those thoughts with mindfulness and compassion.
Meditation is not just some hippie thing to do – it is an investment in your overall mental clarity and strength.
Try enjoying the sound of waves at the ocean, if a jet is flying overheard or seeing a beautiful sunset through a dirty and broken window.
Your senses are overpowered by distractions.
This is what happens when your mind is overpowered by your negative thinking – you miss out on all the great things happening in your life.
VISUALIZATION TO CONNECT YOU TO THE PRESENT MOMENT
Five minutes is ideal for a first run-through, but you can do more or less.
- Find a comfortable position and close your eyes.
- Imagine a gently flowing stream.*
- Imagine, for the next 5 minutes, you can put every thought that pops in your head, whether it is a picture or a word, on top of a leaf and let it float on by.
- Do this for each and every thought, whether it is happy or sad, positive or negative, optimistic or pessimistic. You may want to hold on to the happy thoughts, but this exercise is to practice letting go of thoughts.
- You are not getting rid of the thoughts You are just trying to observe their natural flow in your mind.
- If your mind says, “This is silly,” or “It’s too hard,” or “I can’t do it,” put those thoughts on the leaves too.
- If you get hooked on thoughts like, “I’m not doing it properly,” or “It’s flowing too fast,” or “I can’t get the stream to look the way I want.” Just noticed you are hooked again and put those thoughts on a leaf.
- If a leaf gets stuck and doesn’t move on – don’t fight it. Sometimes thoughts hang around for awhile before they eventually move on.
- If an uncomfortable feeling shows up like boredom, frustration, impatience or anxiety, just acknowledge it. Silently say to yourself, “Noticing boredom,” or “Noticing frustration.” And then place those thoughts on a leaf.
- If your thoughts stop just watch the stream flow (or the blackness). It won’t be long before they start again.
- From time to time you will get hooked and pulled out of the exercise: planning our next vacation, running through your to-do list, rehashing an argument or thinking of the movie you just watched. This is natural – our minds are experts at hooking us. The moment you notice you are hooked just say, “Hooked again.” Then start the exercise again.
*If visualization is difficult for you or you don’t want to use the stream, imagine an expanse of black space and there is a gently blowing breeze.
Take each thought and let it float into the blackness.