Week 4: Mindfulness, Anxiety and Worry
This week, we looked at how the practice of mindfulness can help to calm anxious feelings. We explored how mindfulness helps you learn to stay with difficult feelings without analyzing, suppressing, or encouraging them. And how the practice allows you to safely explore the underlying causes of your stress and worry. We also looked at how it can help to create space around your worries so they don’t consume you.
We touched upon the recurrent theme of how our thoughts are not facts. As Mark Williams explains, "When we meditate, we learn to become more discerning about the thoughts that arise and how we are going to react to them. We become more aware that while some thoughts are useful, others can be deceptive and unhelpful. By becoming more aware of the nature of our thoughts and their transience, we can start to protect ourselves from being highjacked, or negatively defined."
Williams also explains that "We become aware that often our thoughts are merely symptoms of stress, exhaustion or conditioning, rather than facts about ourselves or indeed others. We can learn to decide to step back from them and choose whether or not to take them seriously. This 'space-creating' ability of meditation is one of its greatest benefits." So the challenge this week is to see if you can notice a feeling or thought emerge, notice its 'emotional charge' and then watch as it dissipates, calms and disappears. Allowing yourself this opportunity and space can change the way you to decide to respond and therefore the eventual outcome.
For those of you would like to find out more, please take a look at the Mindfulness Plus section below. I have included an article on anxiety and a couple of my favourite meditations similar to those we practised together. Enjoy.
Audio: Sounds and Thoughts Meditation recorded by Mark Williams: https://soundcloud.com/hachetteaudiouk/meditation-five-sounds-and-thoughts
Audio: Lake Meditation recorded by Jon Kabat-Zinn: https://soundcloud.com/devicer23/02-jon-kabat-zinn-lake
Article: Why Your Out-Breath is Connected to Your Well-Being by Carsten Osten Gerzberg: https://www.mindful.org/why-your-breath-is-connected-to-your-well-being/
Article: How to Meditate with Anxiety: https://www.mindful.org/mindfulness-meditation-anxiety/
This Week's Poem: She Let Go by Reverend Safire Rose
Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of fear. She let go of the judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely,
without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a
book on how to let go… She didn’t search the scriptures.
She just let go.
She let go of all of the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her day-timer.
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.
She didn’t analyse whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.
She didn’t call the prayer line.
She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.
No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort. There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.
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