Written by: Jenny Smith
How does the idea of a life with less worry sound to you? Attractive? Possible? A huge relief? Worrying is fast becoming the biggest growing addiction in the western world and often goes unrecognised in terms of being something that, with awareness, we can change. Most people are so identified with their thoughts and caught up in their own minds that they never conceive of a different possibility.
Meditation can help you become detached from this over-identification. In the early stages of meditating, it is extremely common to realise how crazily repetitive and insistent your mind is, with it’s endless circular concerns and determination to plan for every possible outcome to situations that have not yet occurred.
The mind, rather than being a useful tool, has outgrown its position and has become the ruler of humanity. We live in a world that is dominated by left brain, rational, logical approaches and that values the intellect over and above emotional intelligence. Whilst logic absolutely has it’s place in life, the extensive levels of thinking that the majority of people are prone to, is way out of balance in terms of what is good for us.
What are the dangers of over thinking?
So what are the specific dangers of over thinking? It is something that is both exhausting and detrimental to our overall health, as it’s a huge stress inducer. If left unchecked, a mind will continue to spiral wildly between the past and the future, ramping up the nervous system into the fight or flight mode and creating all sorts of emotions and physical sensations. These sensations only relate to what is being thought about, rather than what is actually happening.
It can result in the quality of your time being on a spectrum between mild, free floating anxiety and full blown panic. All this activity is a huge waste of energy and can leave a person drained.
The right here and now
Being caught up in the past or future results in missing out on everything that is happening right here and right now and the beauty of the present. It also means that as a person you are less present and therefore less engaged and available in your relationships because you are being dominated by the controlling and anxious nature of your thoughts.
Many believe that when something difficult happens, if we think about it enough, we will be able to somehow work it out and understand it enough not to be bothered by it any more. How about becoming wise to this pattern and consciously choosing to come back to the present moment every time you catch yourself caught up in thoughts? If you knew that your subconscious mind, your emotional spirit, your cells, your body and the universe, generally are already doing all the figuring out for you, would that help you relax and let go a bit?
Thoughts are just thoughts
Notice what thoughts are coming as you read this article. It’s possible that even reading about worry is triggering your mind into anxious thinking. If this is the case, give yourself some credit for being able to notice it and remind yourself that these are just thoughts, they are not the ultimate truth.
Repetitive thoughts are simply that, a bit like a hamster on a wheel they are things that are programmed to go around again and again, carving an ever deeper neural pathway into your brain. The deeper these pathways are, the easier it is for your brain to automatically re-run them. But the good news is that whatever age you are, and whatever experiences you’ve had, it is always possible to create new neural pathways by changing your thinking patterns.