As I said in the previous post, the mind is like a factory of thoughts. It just releases thought after thought after thought. Some of these thoughts are just benign like what you are going to have for dinner or how the weather sucks. However, the habits of the mind that create suffering are torturous at times and can lead people to feel debilitated by their fears and anxiety.
The mind can torture us with awful thoughts of a dangerous future that, almost always, does not materialize. “What if I am rejected?” “What if I fail?” “What if I end up alone?” “What if, what if, what if….?”
Mark Twain once said: “I went through a lot of awful things in my life and the majority didn’t happen.” This is the anxious mind. The part of our mind that anticipates pain, rejection, loss, failure, judgment, and it tortures us with the fear that if these things happen, we will be destroyed.
Mindfulness invites us to witness our thoughts and learn that they are just “puffy” things that are there one minute and gone the next. It is only our mind that feeds them and makes them appear as truths, as solid entities that generate anxiety and panic.
Mindfulness allows us to cultivate the ability to observe our thoughts and to disentangle from them. Tell yourself: Thoughts are just thoughts. Observe them as “puffy” things that just pass like clouds in the sky.
Practice observing the mind with curiosity and with interest. Become an ongoing witness to the habits of your mind. This is the first step to gaining mastery over it.
So each time you have a fearful “what if” kind of thought, just say: “oh there is that thought” and bring your attention back to the present moment by taking 3 deep breaths, and taking in all the information available through your senses: what are you seeing? what are you hearing? What are you touching? what are you smelling?
There is much less suffering in the present moment. Even if there is pain in the present moment, when you don’t let the mind engage in creating stories about the pain, you can be with the essence of the pain each moment by just noticing your breath and the presence of whatever you are aware of.
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