Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Letting Go of a Worry Wart Mind

Whether we like it or not, our parents influence our lives in powerful ways. They are our first models for behavior in social situations, in relationships, and in personal expression.  Most important, they are our models for how to be in the world. Is there some behavior of yours that you're not happy about and want to change? First, think back to your childhood and your parents.  Was that behavior something you took on from one or both of your parent?  Finding the source of the behavior can help point the way to how to change it.

My mother was a monumental worrier. She worried about everything. Fear ruled her life: the fear of the dangerous world and her lack of control over it. She expected the worst rather than the best. And I learned well from her.  It wasn't until I was well into adulthood, in my 30's, that I discovered that I didn't need to be a worrier like my mother. I also learned that I controlled my thoughts, my emotions, my behavior even though I could not control anything else in the world.  I could change the way I thought. I could have a mind that was positive, open, fearless, and curious.

Eric Barker's article at Time.com about mindfulness, How to Stop Worrying, caught my eye recently. I found it to be an excellent introduction to the human mind.  Mindfulness is a basic tenet of Buddhism. The Dalai Lama recently posted on Facebook:

Dalai Lama
"In our modern society everything seems geared to material development, even our systems of education. As a result we no longer pay sufficient attention to our inner values, which leads to mental unrest. In order to address this imbalance we need to pay more attention to our minds."
Modern medicine focuses on our physical bodies.  It has made great progress in extending our lives, eradicating disease, and developing wellness practices.  Medical researchers still have a lot of work to do, true.  I've wondered for a long time, though, why we do not take care of our minds as diligently as we take care of our bodies.

Mindfulness is a way to take care of our minds.  We need not be fearful of our minds or psychology.  Or mental illness for that matter.  The more we know about our minds, the better off humanity will be.  So, what is mindfulness?  Well, it's letting go of the running commentary inside our minds and paying attention to the present moment, to being in the present moment in the world with acceptance, not judgement.

Letting go.  

In his Time article, Barker uses excerpts from Ronald Siegel's book The Mindfulness Solution to help explain mindfulness and how to practice it.  Practice?  Yes, practice.  It takes effort and time to be mindful, and Barker describes five habits that we have that can prevent us from being mindful.  Then he explains how to deal with those habits so that they no longer interfere with being in the present moment.  The more we practice mindfulness, the easier it can be, and the more comfortable with are with it. 

I have been interested in Buddhism for over 20 years, and have incorporated meditation as well as Buddhist beliefs into my life.  My mind no longer screams at me, no longer reacts with fear or worry, and I now have the welcome ability to step back, observe without judging, and let it all go.  But it is an on-going practice.  Just because I achieve success one day doesn't mean I'm finished.  Each day brings its own challenges for my mind and being in the true reality of the world.

Are you afraid of your mind?  Your thoughts?  Would you like to take control of them rather than have them control you?  Mindfulness is a good place to start.....

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