Do you ever let worrying thoughts take you to a stressful unhappy place? I have understood my teacher Cindy Lee explain this is like boarding the ‘Express Worry Train’ to Devastation Station’. We can resist the urge to hop on board by recognising that these unhelpful and untrue worrying thought habits are causing us stress and unhappiness. Staying on the station, instead of boarding the worry train, gives us the freedom to watch the train pass and put a helpful new habit in place.
Neuroplasticity, that understanding that the brain is plastic or changeable allows us to create new neural pathways or ‘thought grooves’ that are more helpful. With recognition we are able to stop recreating that unhelpful thought pattern groove over and over and instead create a more helpful one that will reduce our worry and make us more able to cope with life’s inevitable ups and downs.
I would like to share the story of my year 11 Physics train wreck, or wonderful opportunity to learn some helpful new habits. I didn’t really like physics or my teacher and while it was tempting to blame the subject, the exam or the teacher I realized I was the one who unknowingly made it a stressful experience. I remember the lead up to the exam. Despite being a reasonably conscientious student who had put in a fair amount of study I decided I was going to fail the exam. I told myself that I hadn’t done enough work, I was too dumb to get it, I would freeze and be unable to answer any of the questions and on and on it went! My funny mind had me aboard the train and to Devastation Station. I was a nervous somewhat hysterical wreck.
That experience and many more subsequent ones have reminded me to BREATHE and to
More about the ‘It’s like this now! What is my wisest response? tool. This tool is so helpful for bringing us into the present and prevents us arguing with reality! Acceptance of how it is now and questioning my wisest response to what is unfolding allows me to prevent blame, conflict and criticism and to respond wisely.
I was reminded of this on a trip I made to Sri Lanka where I had the opportunity to practice acceptance of the reality of arriving at the airport with excess baggage. I was bringing home some handwoven fabric and goods I had purchased for Pom to sell here in support of our Pom projects. I can recall watching my mind go into blame, victim and criticism mode as it argued with the reality of having too much luggage!
Fortunately, I remembered to question whether this was useful and concluded it wasn’t. What did I need to do? Accept it’s like this now and question my wise self for a helpful response and to trust all will unfold as it was meant to be. What came up was the great idea to decide to see the excess baggage money like the money I could have spent on a business class upgrade! So, I paid the money and told myself now I was travelling business class, well not really, but sort of! As it transpired the plane was full and I found myself seated next to a woman whose partner was seated next to a toddler a few rows ahead of us. I offered to swap seats with him so they could be together. ‘Thanks, but no need. I think my partner has it sorted’ was her reply. Shortly after take-off they both disappeared down the back of the plane leaving me with two seats to myself! Thank you for my business class upgrade!
So yet again when I can accept with ‘It’s like this now’, check into my wise self for what to do and let go and trust, everything will unfold as it is meant to, which may even end up as a business upgrade!
Another way to train our minds to be more in the present, which I learned from my Teachers Lama Marut and Cindy Lee is ‘It’s Like This Now!
It’s like this now!
This Lama Marutism has saved me lots of worry and protest about how I think things should be when clearly they are not that way. By realizing ‘It’s like this now’ we are bringing ourselves back into the present “now”! And almost always everything is perfectly ok in the present.
When something unwanted happens or when we don’t get what we want we can have understandably have the tendency to wish it was or was not the way it is. My mind can protest and create struggle and conflict wanting it to be different from how it is. For example, I can have cries of ‘you should not have said that to me, it shouldn’t be raining or they should have rung me’ when clearly, they have already said it, it is raining and they haven’t rung!
No amount of protesting or complaining about it or wishing it was different from how it is, is going to help. Although somehow, I think it is! The truth is all I am doing with my arguing with reality by complaining and protesting is ruining both my present and future peace of mind. So, what might be a more helpful response?
I find ‘it’s like this now’ is a very useful thing to say to myself to bring me int the present and to how things actually are!. When I accept that the situation ‘is like this now’, instead of the way I think it should or should not have been, I bring myself into the present where I can then tune into my wise self to ask ‘what is my wisest response, given that it is like this now? And as you might guess it is not to blame, criticise or protest, but rather to accept and respond wisely. So in our examples I could respond wisely by letting go of what has been said, enjoying the rain and bring understanding and forgiveness to my friend not ringing.
A similar helpful thing we might say to ourselves in situations like this is 'It is what it is'! This acceptance of the situation allows us to again in tune into our wise self for how best to respond.. Remembering also that worrying about something is never useful, if there is something to be done, do that and don't worry and if there is not anything we can do, do nothing and don't worry.
With love, appreciation and very best well wishes to us all
There are some helpful questions we can ask ourselves to train our minds to be in the present. These include ......
Is this memory useful for me now?
I learned this way to train our minds to be more in the present, from my Teachers Lama Marut and Cindy Lee. It involves questioning ourselves with ‘Is this memory useful for me now’? And of course if it is not maybe replacing it with a more helpful thought or choosing to forgive.
Is this memory useful for my present peace o mind?
This is a simple question we can ask ourselves whenever a memory from the past pops into our mind to ruin our present. We can ask ourselves if this memory is useful to our present peace of mind? If not, which will often be the case, let it go and take some breaths to bring you back into the present.
Is future worry about what may or may not happen useful for me now?
Another question that might be useful to ask is when our mind projects us into worry about the future; Is future worry about what may or may not happen useful for me now?
The answer is always no because worry is always a waste of time. As Lama Marut says if something unwanted happens and we can do something about it, do that and don’t worry; if we can’t do anything about it, do nothing and don’t worry.
A worry free period.
Another strategy I find helpful to reduce my tendency to be unable to stop worrying is to say to myself ‘I am not going to worry about that now. I will spend some time at say 6pm tonight worrying about it. Usually by the time my chosen worry time arrives I have forgotten about what I had been worried about.
With love, appreciation and very best well wishes to us all
A second way to train our minds to be more in the present, which I learned from my Teachers Lama Marut and Cindy Lee is the ‘Mindful Breath Meditation’.
During our yoga meditation after the ‘be here now’ meditation preliminary practice, we bring our attention to the breath with a simple ‘Mindful Breathing Meditation’.
Mindful Breathing Meditation
Mindfulness is the ability to pay careful attention to what you are thinking, feeling and sensing in the present moment, without judging those thoughts and feelings as good or bad. Mindfulness can help us deal with difficult feelings like stress, anger and anxiety.
One method for cultivating mindfulness is to focus your attention on your own breathing. By taking time to practice mindful breathing we are training ourselves to be able to bring our focus to the breath in our daily lives. This facilitates our ability to concentrate, be patient and deal with negative emotions.
The breath is like our anchor in the present moment. We are always breathing in the present moment so bringing our attention here settles the mind into the present. And as we said everything is ok when we bring our mind into the present. Future fear and past worry exist in times that don't. The past that has already been and the future that is yet to come.
We begin by focusing our mind on the breath, noticing the inhale as it moves through the nostrils, the little gap and the exhale as it moves out through the nostrils. We don’t need to do anything to the breath, simply notice it.
As we do this, your mind may start to wander to other things. This is very normal. It’s great when we notice that our mind has begun to wander. When you notice, simply relax and do your best to kindly bring the mind back to the breath, much like you would guide a wandering toddler.
Stay here for five minutes, watching the breath. Continue to notice wandering, relax and keep kindly bringing it back to the sensation of breath again and again. Remember to be kind and encouraging with your wandering mind. We all have minds that need gentle training.
When we are out and about we can do this tuning into the breath at any time by simply taking a deep breath and bringing our attention to the breath. This will ground you in the present and everything is ok there.
Mindfulness breath Meditation or just simple remembering to tune into the breath when we are going about your daily life has many benefits. These include…..