Meditation to reduce anxiety

Is Your Mind Preparing for Disaster?

Worst case scenario thinking… is it worth it? The theory is simple; imagine the worst thing that can happen and then try to imagine what you’ll do when it happens. In most people’s cases though, it just leads to an inner state of unrest and anxiety.

The entire insurance industry is based on such an approach. They say, “If your worst case happens, we’ll give you money.”

Why would any business want to take on that much risk? If the worst case happens, they are on the hook to suffer the worst of it, not you. We are willing to pay a premium for this type of assurance.

At the same time, we can assume that insurance companies make huge sums of money. HUGE! They advertise constantly on prime time TV which costs millions of dollars. Do they know something we don’t know?

Yes, in fact they do. They know that worst case scenarios hardly ever occur. In fact the percentage of the time that big catastrophes strike the average person are infinitesimal. And yet, so often I hear those dreaded 3 words… YOU NEVER KNOW.

Can you Control your Mind?

What I do know is that thinking negatively does have an affect on the kind of life you create. I’m not claiming that a strict policy of only positive thoughts will pre-empt all difficulties. However thinking negatively leads to beliefs that are based in negativity and those beliefs will definitely affect your day to day life.

Many have told me they get it. They understand this teaching but they can’t seem to control their minds. As much as they want to think more positively, the realities they see day by day and their experiences contradict a more positive outlook.

This is also true. The world and the challenges we all face trying to get our stuff done and find some enjoyment in life are real. There can be a shift in consciousness that leads to a dramatic transformation in your internal landscape.

Here is a snapshot of the mental landscape that I hear from many beginning meditators;

My mind is non-stop regurgitating scenarios and leaving me somewhat anxious and unsettled. I have a ton of negative thoughts most days and I can’t stop them. When I get angry, I don’t know how to stop my mind from replaying what happened and continually blaming the other person for what they did. Then I start to hate myself for being so judgmental. I get exhausted and then eat or drink too much as a way to find relief.”

Life in the World

This is life in the world for sure. The world is NOT something meditation is going to change immediately. Meditation gives you the opportunity to change how you respond to the world.

The world (a somewhat nebulous term, I understand) has a vested interest in cultivating worst-case thinking. The more fear the world stimulates in you, the more you need their insurance packages. And then the richer these companies get.

What meditation does is put you face to face with your mind. We make a conscious effort to reduce the stimulation to our senses and focus within. With practice, you will come to an inner world and here is where you can clearly see what your mind does.

Initially all that worst case activity can seem daunting. It makes us angry because it’s not natural. To be in a chronic state of worry about horrible things happening is terribly draining.

It may appear as though that type of thinking cannot be stopped however it absolutely can! No surprise… one very reliable solution is MEDITATION.

Meditation in its simplest definition can be thought of as a time of inner contemplation whereby we train the mind to function in ways that bring greater peace. We give all our attention to the activity of our minds and emotions and, through the exertion of will, consciousness and wisdom, we transform.

Transformation Away from Disastrous Thinking

Living without dwelling in worst case thinking will save a huge amount of energy. Better to use meditation as a tool to promptly process difficult emotions.

Learning to process emotions is easy to understand but somewhat challenging to implement. We all know that when we feel lousy, we don’t always feel like doing the right thing.

If we are in an emotional state such as irritated, anxious, or depressed, it is more common to try and do something that makes us feel immediately better. The most common activities may include overeating, getting drink or high, masturbating or gossiping.

Meditation can provide reliable (and free!) methods to examine your feelings when distressed and diffuse the pressure these feelings are creating.

Spiritual Maturity Means Confidence when Difficulty Strikes

When you become skilled at moving through anxiety and fear quickly using meditation, then you won’t fear worst cases nearly as much. Your confidence in yourself will grow. Your fear of the world will reduce.

A spiritually mature person expects a certain amount of adversity as it is unavoidable in the current consciousness of humanity. We all need some basic functioning and coping skills for the challenges we face.

The difference is that when you know your inner world and have developed the ability to keep the mind neutral and positive most of the time, you don’t slip into dark rabbit holes of negativity. And if you do, you recognize it quickly and get out.

When you begin to sense a down mood, you can enter into meditation and process the feelings before they take you down too far. These two skills are paramount to gaining the relaxation that people crave as a direct benefit of learning to meditate.

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how to manage negative thoughts

How to Manage Negative Thoughts

You Can Manage Negative Thoughts if you are Willing to Accept This Idea

Almost all people seeking out meditation want to manage negative thoughts to some extent. Why is this? How did our minds get so far off base?

Perhaps you’ll remember an ad campaign that began in 1972 that stated; A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste. This is so true! But let’s introduce a slight variation. A Mind that is Out of Control with Negative Thoughts is a Waste. And THAT is a terrible thing!

The state of our culture is such that we love negativity. If we didn’t our news, our printed and online publications, our TV shows, our YouTube videos and our movies would not reflect it. Think of the percentage of films that involve crime, murder and people cheating on each other.

It’s hard to deny that we get an emotional charge from indulging in negativity. The good news is that meditation will absolutely help manage negative thoughts. The not so good news is that it will require consistent effort.

As with anything that has been allowed to exist for an extended period, habits are harder to change once established. Breaking the habit of allowing negativity to be prominent in your thinking is simple as far as understanding what to do but hard in execution.

Consider this idea; negative thinking is not natural but a learned condition. It has become the easier route because it releases responsibility. Changing it comes down to creating a new habit.

Thinking negatively will often release you from having to do anything. What do we mean? Take for example if someone does something to anger you. If you allow yourself to think negatively and blame the other person, you can stay mad, shut them out or speak badly about them. These are easy choices but they do nothing to help you manage negative thoughts. If on the other hand, you sit in meditation, explore the feelings that got stirred in the interaction and decide to forgive the person, you are faced with a much more challenging task. This path brings you into accord with your higher nature.

Whenever you act in a way that is aligned with love, you will tend to emerge feeling lighter. When you act in accord with negativity, you might get an initial pay off as far as feeling a little relieved but it won’t last. The first step to manage negative thoughts is to accept that the process will require effort. Then you have to learn the process and finally you have to do it. In the beginning, you will need to do this everyday. After a while, you can cut back to when something is trying to take you into negativity.

In our next blog post, we provide a step by step process for doing this work. For now, you’ll need a meditation practice whereby you can get in touch with your emotions and where you can objectively observe your thoughts. Second, you’ll need to accept that it will take a diligent effort exercised over a period of time to replace the thought patterns of allowing negativity to reside in you. Finally, you’ll need patience for when setbacks occur as they are inevitable on this journey. Please see our next post to get started!