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How the mind worries

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran
edited August 18 in Buddhism Basics

I find it fascinating how the mind finds things to worry about. When I go to sleep, I find myself relaxing and the usual focus of the mind kind of drops away, and instead as I drift off to sleep my thoughts free-wheel. Often this is quite liberating but if I have something I have been worrying about intensely during the day, it comes back in this phase and I have a kind of pre-sleep panic attack, and then I have a lot of difficulty sleeping.

Sometimes I notice that my mind automatically seeks out aspects of a situation to worry about. I see a homeless person on the street, I worry about being homeless, i come across something violent, I worry about being subjected to violence, and so on. It’s as if this behaviour is then blocking a wider emotional response to the situation, instead I get stuck in a “worry trap”.

Probably this has something to do with survival, or with the thinking mode called ‘catastrophising’, searching for the worst possible outcome for you personally in the things you meet. But I’m finding it difficult to shed this way of thinking for something more Buddhist and more sane.

Do you recognise this? Have you coped with something similar?

personelcra1gopaulyso

Comments

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Yes; occasionally I remember, with virtually no prompt or connective thought at all, situations in which I have previously embarrassed myself through idiotic or thoughtless behaviour.

    At other times, for, again, no apparent reason at all, my mind creates inhuman, tortuous, cruel images or situations, which are occasionally capable of turning my stomach and keeping me awake. Yes, it more often than not happens in the dark sleeping hours, when I desperately need to sleep, particularly if I have work or a heavy day the next day. Call it demonic self-sabotage.... I dunno...

    So annoying...

    At those times, I turn to a Mala, put a sleeping mask on, and begin to recite mantras, which concentrate the Mind wonderfully... Then I sleep.

    Sometimes.

    Though not always.

    personKeromeelcra1goKundo
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    There are two main ways that I've used to address my worry, meditative and cognitive. Our meditation practice develops the skill in us to let things go, not always so easy though, especially when trying to sleep for some reason. The cognitive approach I've used is to recollect the saying that goes something like, "If there is something you can do about it, why worry; if there is nothing you can do about it, again why worry." Repeatedly bringing it to mind slowly makes an impact.

    I also use @federica's technique of resorting to a repetitive dharma practice.

    federicaKeromelobsterBunks
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    ... recognise this? Have you coped with something similar?

    Sure.
    I develop my Buddha Field
    https://buddhaweekly.com/mind-different-brain-science-may-support-duality-separate-mind-brain/

    That's the way to do it!
    Punch

  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Canada Veteran
    edited August 19

    The dharma is the refuge.
    Worry is one of the states of the thinking mind. So step aside into mindfulness ... into that "silence between the words" that you have met through meditation, and rest in that wordless state. Open to the worry and use mindfulness to relax with the worry.

    I should, in all honesty, add that I can only do this occasionally. I'm not really that proficient at it .. but Buddhism IS about "practice".

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I’ve found a session of vipassana also helps, most of the time. Focussing on mindfulness of the breath until stillness of the body, the mind and the emotions arrives, which persists for a good while even after you get up from the cushion and start doing other things.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited August 19

    How the mind worries

    "I'm anxious and I ought not be anxious, but because I'm anxious, I'm anxious because I'm anxious"

    ~Alan Watts~

    Oh me Oh my I'm worried! Now you might think I'm dumb-for I'm paying 100% interest on trouble that may not come

    Have you noticed that "I am" at the forefront of all worry, whether it be worried about others or worried about self...

    And when one thinks about it, it's the thoughts that hogs the limelight of all worry "I am" just a thought that thinks "I am" worried...but "I am" just a thought !"

    It's Worry that worries...The mind just accommodates it :)

    FinnTheHuman
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited August 20

    When you are faced with the prospect of losing what you have, or of not having what you need, then worry comes to the fore. Somehow dying or illness do not worry me much, but when it comes to losing my bed or money or my ‘things’ then I feel it.

    I’m always reminded at times like this of the Thai Forest monks, who live with so little, and yet they manage, and live within the dharma. I admire them greatly, that capacity to leave everything and live a simple and holy life.

    lobster
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Kerome said:
    When you are faced with the prospect of losing what you have, or of not having what you need, then worry comes to the fore.

    I’m always reminded at times like this of the Thai Forest monks, who live with so little, and yet they manage, and live within the dharma.

    Yes, I think shifting one's attention to the reality of the circumstances of others we know about, is something of a skilful antidote to our own ego's sense of entitlement.

    I think of those whose lives have been cut short by tragedy (9/11, Genoa Bridge collapse, Japanese Tsunami) and those they have left behind, bereft, dazed, mourning and permanently affected by their loss....

  • FinnTheHumanFinnTheHuman England New

    @Shoshin That Alan Watts quote is great. After commenting on a post saying that I was quite good at getting out of anxiety, this week I’ve probably been the most anxious I’ve been for months, and because I know I shouldn’t be anxious, I’m anxious about being anxious, and I kinda feel I’m failing with meditation because all of a sudden my anxiety has come back. But I know it’s practice, I’m not a master, I’m still in relative terms a beginner. I’m having trouble with not clinging on to negative thoughts, and questioning why I’m having these thoughts. So I might have a thought that arises which i completely disagree with, so maybe concerning a person with a different skin colour or something that is not loving or compassionate, and then I cling onto it and give that thought power over me, and ruminate and get anxious and say that only a sicko could have these kind of thoughts. There’s another Alan Watts quote I like at the moment- ‘the mind grows thoughts, as the field grows grass’.
    It’s seems like for the last 3-4 months meditation hasn’t been great, and my mind cleared of thoughts near enough, or at least I could just watch them pass. But now it’s like every bad thought I could have had in those months is just bombarding me, so it’s hard not to cling.
    Sorry lol venting

  • FinnTheHumanFinnTheHuman England New

    I mean my meditation had been great

  • elcra1goelcra1go Edinburgh, Scotland Explorer

    this week I’ve probably been the most anxious I’ve been for months...

    I have been feeling kinda similar all week- I can feels anxieties creeping back in- feelings I've not had for months...

    I had friends visiting and staying for 4/5 days- mainly out and about, at shows and restaurants and bars; due to this my sitting practice was fairly non-existent during this time- maybe half an hour each morning.

    So thats it- me and friends are over!!!!!

    Nah- I think I've realised again 'I'; or my practice needs to come first again x

    FinnTheHumanKerome
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @elcra1go said:
    I had friends visiting and staying for 4/5 days- mainly out and about, at shows and restaurants and bars; due to this my sitting practice was fairly non-existent during this time

    Edinburgh is a great place to live though, I remember I visited it for new year once many years ago, it was a lot of fun, there was a parade and lots of activities and fireworks in the evening above the castle. Loved staying there.

    elcra1go
  • elcra1goelcra1go Edinburgh, Scotland Explorer

    @Kerome yip- it is a beautiful city. The Fringe Festival is on just now... so comedy shows and late nights a plenty!!!

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @FinnTheHuman said:
    @Shoshin That Alan Watts quote is great. After commenting on a post saying that I was quite good at getting out of anxiety, this week I’ve probably been the most anxious I’ve been for months, and because I know I shouldn’t be anxious, I’m anxious about being anxious, and I kinda feel I’m failing with meditation because all of a sudden my anxiety has come back. But I know it’s practice, I’m not a master, I’m still in relative terms a beginner. I’m having trouble with not clinging on to negative thoughts, and questioning why I’m having these thoughts. So I might have a thought that arises which i completely disagree with, so maybe concerning a person with a different skin colour or something that is not loving or compassionate, and then I cling onto it and give that thought power over me, and ruminate and get anxious and say that only a sicko could have these kind of thoughts. There’s another Alan Watts quote I like at the moment- ‘the mind grows thoughts, as the field grows grass’.
    It’s seems like for the last 3-4 months meditation hasn’t been great, and my mind cleared of thoughts near enough, or at least I could just watch them pass. But now it’s like every bad thought I could have had in those months is just bombarding me, so it’s hard not to cling.
    Sorry lol venting

    @FinnTheHuman

    Don't worry ...(pun intended) This is just a sign that you are becoming more aware of your thought patterns...The same thought patterns that have always been there but you were inclined to live them than be aware of them...AKA The mind becoming charmed by its own thoughts

    So look on this awareness as a good thing...Your meditate practice is paying off :) ...Stick with it, for this too shall pass Annica ...

    FinnTheHuman
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    When you are faced with the prospect of losing what you have, or of not having what you need,then worry comes to the fore. Somehow dying or illness do not worry me much, but when it comes to losing my bed or money or my ‘things’ then I feel it.

    Yes it does...However I have found that when the time comes for me to let go, I will let go and wonder why I didn't let go sooner...and this wondering why I didn't let go sooner is in itself "clinging" and this too (eventually) passes ....(Well this is how it's meant to work but plans can and often do come unstuck...or should I say become stuck ;) )

    You can't take it with you when you go! (die) And you were never really here to begin with (well no permanently abiding entity) ...so who is it that claims ownership of transient things? (the clinging craving ever-changing aggregates..... AKA the grasping self)..

    "Transient alas; Are all component things
    Subject are they to birth and then decay
    Having gained birth-to death the life flux swings
    Bliss truly dawns when unrest dies away!"

    I guess meditation practice can be liken to a surgeon's scalpel, skilfully carving out new and improved neuropathways.... Out with the old and In with the new :)

    Hmm..Neurons that fire together wire together

    (Actually the old neuropathways are like pathways that are no longer used and become overgrown.non-active-reclaimed by the brain's jungle)

  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @federica
    At those times, I turn to a Mala, put a sleeping mask on, and begin to recite mantras, which concentrate the Mind wonderfully... Then I sleep.

    Ditto. The amount of times I've recited the Medicine Buddha mantra over the past 7 days is astounding.

  • @Kerome said:
    I find it fascinating how the mind finds things to worry about. When I go to sleep, I find myself relaxing and the usual focus of the mind kind of drops away, and instead as I drift off to sleep my thoughts free-wheel. Often this is quite liberating but if I have something I have been worrying about intensely during the day, it comes back in this phase and I have a kind of pre-sleep panic attack, and then I have a lot of difficulty sleeping.

    Sometimes I notice that my mind automatically seeks out aspects of a situation to worry about. I see a homeless person on the street, I worry about being homeless, i come across something violent, I worry about being subjected to violence, and so on. It’s as if this behaviour is then blocking a wider emotional response to the situation, instead I get stuck in a “worry trap”.

    Probably this has something to do with survival, or with the thinking mode called ‘catastrophising’, searching for the worst possible outcome for you personally in the things you meet. But I’m finding it difficult to shed this way of thinking for something more Buddhist and more sane.

    Do you recognise this? Have you coped with something similar?

    Maybe you are waking up to a truth that all is suffering , with kind regards to your Buddhist practise :). And this triggers the ego?

    I had a similar phase leading to a nihilistic and anarchistic mindset that stayed with me for several years.

    Speaking from interconnectedness its kinda logical to me your mind/ego translates the stuff it sees and worry and fear arise.

    Buddhism is about balans so my personal advice is to look for beauty, love and kindness too. This should reduce Some of your own suffering.

    paulyso
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited August 22

    @federica said:

    At those times, I turn to a Mala, put a sleeping mask on, and begin to recite mantras, which concentrate the Mind wonderfully... Then I sleep.

    I have complete confidence in mantrayana. Wonderful mind calming if relaxed focus on ...

    I tend to visualise ... rather than wear an actual mask :p That’ll scare those worried demons ...

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