When I wake up in the morning, still groggy, my mind would be relaxed; not thinking anything. But, the moment consciousness returns, thoughts rush in as if air is rushing-in to fill a vacuum. Worry starts, either of something that I did in the past or happened to me in the past or fear of something that might happen in the future. Dread fills the body, breathes become shallow and rapid. The mind starts conjecturing so many ‘what-ifs’ that I spend most of my waking time trying to find appropriate responses to survive all those instances that are being flinged at me. All in the name of ‘preparation’. But, after a time it gets exhausting. So much of what ‘might’ happen is not in my control that it gets really scary. There is so much that can happen that will undermine my efforts. So much can go wrong. So many can stand against me. With seemingly insurmountable odds, self-doubt creeps in. What if I don’t make it? What if I’m found wanting? What if I fail all those who depend on me? Anxiety & depression set in.
I start to work thinking about the presentation I need to make that day or the meeting I’ve been dreading or wondering how to tackle the problematic colleague. I don’t even realise how I reached office. Similarly thoughts occupy in the evening on the drive home. This these days is my daily routine. Also, called – ‘Living in the mind’.
Reality might be different, it might not be scary, but in the guise of being prepared for any situation, many of us worry incessantly. We fail to see the distinction between worrying and thinking. I once read a line from Seneca, “he who indulges empty fears earns himself real fears”. But, only in the recent days did I understand the significance. What can we do? If we are stuck in this endless loop of thoughts. It’s minds’ nature to think and, many a times ‘think’ we must. Our survival and progress as a species depends on that. So, if not thinking is not a solution, then what is? – Being mindful. Being aware of our thoughts.
When we are aware of our thoughts, we can gently guide our mind back to the situation at hand rather than let it ruminate over everything that transpired or will transpire in our lives. Even the act of noticing that our mind has moved away from the object of our thoughts offers us opportunities to break habitual thinking patterns. But, how to be aware? How to be become mindful? By meditating. Meditation, like I mentioned in my previous posts, is about concentrating the mind only our breath and bringing it back to it once we realise it has moved onto other thoughts. And, as we bring our attention back to the breath, we become calmer and relaxed. As we become calm, we become aware of our actions and thoughts. We become mindful in choosing what to think and what to do. When we consciously start choosing our actions we stop habitual thought patterns that can cause anxiety & depression. And, choosing & focusing on what is in our control, what we CAN do as against worrying about what’s out there and not in our control, is the sanest course of action we can take any day to lead a peaceful life.