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Old 02-25-2007, 09:40 AM   #14
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Dallas, Tx
Posts: 201
SteveGn HB User
Re: My Suggestions For Anxiety, Panic and Obsessive Thoughts

Jodianne, Got back in town Thursday. Glad you posted before I leave out again Monday. Anyway, the fact that you’re interested in the subject of meditation, and are interested in taking matters into your own hands tells me that good things are to come for you in ridding yourself of anxiety and worrisome thoughts.

What will start happening when practicing meditation/mindfulness is your way of reacting to things will change, which will, in turn, start to bring about the peacefulness that we all seek. Our reaction to things is what causes suffering - not the actual event itself. In meditation, as well as in day to day living, the practice of “not reacting” to the thoughts, events, situations, etc. that occur in our daily life and in meditation, is of paramount importance. Books will use useful words and phrases such as “no resistance”, “just be”, “letting go”, and “acceptance”. For some reason, I have found that the phrase “not reacting” seems to work best for me, along with “just be”, but everyone develops their own preferences.

Imagine a situation where someone has a flat tire and they angrily get out of the car cursing and kicking and they allow it to negatively affect the rest of their day, as well as the people they encounter, whereas someone else calmly gets out of the car, changes the tire, and calmly goes about their business. The same situation occurred, yet two completely different emotional results. The 2nd person simply accepted the situation and remained unaffected. With time, the “not reacting” can literally become a habit. When a negative thought or situation occurs that would normally invoke anxiety, panic, more negative thoughts, etc., you can instead maintain a calm even flow. If you’re someone like myself, who had gotten himself into a highly sensitized state, the practice of “not reacting” allowed my nervous system to gradually calm down and return to a normal state. With continued practice, you can become calmer than you’ve ever been. As ocdengineer said, “trying” is the key.

I tend to use the word “meditation” when referring to a formal sitting meditation, and I tend to use the word “mindfulness” when referring to everyday living. In both situations though, the practice is to “just be”. The point I wanted to make here, Jodianne, is that during formal meditation, the goal isn’t about trying to keep the number of thoughts to a minimum, but to simply “not react” when a thought does occurs and then calmly return your attention back to your point of focus. As mentioned earlier, it’s the “not reacting” that will bring the peace, and a by-product of the “not reacting” is that, with time, the thoughts, which are only energy, will occur less often and with less intensity because you won’t be feeding into or reinforcing them. But it won’t matter much if certain thoughts surface, because you will have gotten good at not reacting to them anyway.

I read one time where mindfulness is seen by some as more important than formal meditation simply because mindfulness is practiced during everyday life where the challenges to “just be” are constantly presenting themselves. I actually haven’t formally meditated in several months and have made bigger strides than ever. Having said that, I’m still a big believer in formal meditation, but if it doesn’t appeal to you, then “just be” with your everyday life situations. If you can do both, then that’s even better, in my opinion.

I don’t know what kind of worrisome thoughts you’re having, but sometimes it can be very helpful to turn toward them and see why they’re troubling you. You might ask yourself some “what if”, or “so what” questions, with the final result being that the thoughts are no longer worrisome to you.

I hope I was able to answer some of your questions and be of help. By the way, I've read some of Jon Kabat-Zin's books on mindfulness and found them helpful. Take care, Steve