Saturday, May 11, 2013
Mental habits can be changed!
You can get a grip on them.
“A grip?” you say. “The last thing I can do at night is succeed in making those worries go away. No matter how hard I try, the thoughts keep coming back again and again. They haunt me and leave me exhausted.”
Well, that’s true. You can’t force yourself to a calm state of mind. You can’t force yourself into not-thinking.
Trying to “not think” doesn’t work. You have to go at it in an indirect way.
You have to remove that mental association that is causing you stress and replace it with the automatic habit of “slipping effortlessly into a stress free mental association
How do you do that? Start by understanding what is going on in your brain when you’re worrying. Allow yourself to notice that your thoughts always dwell on the future or the past, never the present moment… Because…
Worrying and anxiety are forms taken by the emotion of FEAR
Fear that what happened in the past will result in more problems for you in the future.
Fear that what will happen in the future will cause you to suffer even more, and fear that you won’t be able to cope.
But notice this: fear is NEVER in the present. In the present moment you’re breathing and doing nothing, which is just fine.
But since your mind keeps dwelling on what might happen, it maintains itself in a very aroused, active state the same kind of state you maintain yourself in when you’re facing a danger. Your brainwaves go into high gear, your senses are in alert, your thoughts race… and rest is impossible.
So there’s just one thing you need to do to get out of the fear-based thinking that generates all that worrying and anxiety, and shift to a mind state more conducive to sleep… And that is: Come back to the present moment. Let your mind slow down.
Easier said than done, eh? I’ve been there too. Since you’ve conditioned yourself to dwell on the past and on the future, you need some “prop” to help you disconnect and come back to the present moment.
What kinds of props can assist you?
• focus on your breath;
• focus on the space between your thoughts — instead of following each and every thought that occur to you, put your attention instead on the empty space between one thought and the next one… and watch this empty space gets wider and wider;
• relax the different parts of your body;
• imagine yourself relaxing in a warm and beautiful setting — lying on a beach, for example, and looking at the sea, at the clouds, at the sky, and let your mind wander;
Focus instead your attention on the pulses and notice how they’re gradually slowing down. Allow your mind to wander, allow your body to feel progressively more and more relaxed…
If you find yourself obsessing over a thought, notice that it deals with the past or the future… And just come back to the present by listening to the pulses. As you try to keep your attention on something as dull as the pulses, the activity will prove increasingly difficult. This activity will help your brain “downshift” and leave the realm of fast beta thought-inducing brainwaves to go into a progressively calmer and calmer state of mind.