Have you ever noticed feeling more anxious or stressed-out right after your mindfulness meditation session?
You tell yourself, “Holy crap, I thought this mindfulness stuff was supposed to help me feel better – not worse!”
So what’s going on here?
A Whole Lot of Thinking
The mind is a great big dream machine. Its capacity for creating more is endless.
Scientists tell us that we think 60 to 80,000 thoughts per day. Most of those thoughts are the same thoughts we think day in and day out.
Over time we accumulate familial, societal and cultural conditioning, training, education, emotional upsets, opinions, grudges, beliefs, addictions, the news, social media, etc.
And in this modern world we live in, it’s getting worse.
Never in history has the human brain been asked to track so many data points.
When it comes time to quiet down and relax, it’s no wonder you can’t stop thinking!
Is that What I’ve Been Thinking?
Imagine dropping a spoonful of baking soda into a glass of water. Now mix it up. The particles will swirl around like snowflakes in one of those cute little Christmas ornaments, right?
Eventually the particles will settle and either get absorbed into the water or rise to the top.
That is what happens when you sit down to meditate.
Thoughts that you’ve never noticed before begin rise to the top and suddenly become more pronounced.
Since most of us never really stop long enough to sit still and be quiet, sometimes we may not like what we see.
Don’t Blame Me
One time I sat down to meditate and suddenly I became aware that I had developed a strong dislike for a particular person.
I really had no reason to dislike the person, I just decided that I was going to.
Every time I saw the person or heard that person’s name I would think negative or disdainful thoughts.
Every time I thought that thought, I reinforced that particular synapse in the brain and guess what?
It got stronger.
Before I knew it, every time I thought of that person, my aversion grew stronger.
I started to feel badly about myself.
This mindfulness stuff was really stressing me out!
But suddenly, during one of my meditations, when those thoughts came up again, I began to clearly see what I was doing.
I had unconsciously built up a habit of dislike. It’s as if my mind was on autopilot.
It wasn’t MY fault. It was my mind’s fault.
As soon as you “see” something that either isn’t serving you or preventing you from being the best your can be…
…that’s when you can begin to do something about it.
Mindfulness is Awareness
Let everything arise in your awareness.
- If you’re upset with yourself – be upset in awareness.
- If you’re having a hard time reigning in your mind – reign in your mind with awareness.
- If you’ve been repressing stuff that wants to be acknowledged – acknowledge it with awareness.
When you are mindful in this way you can begin to feel more compassion for yourself and see that you are not your mind.
EASY DOES IT
It took a long time and a lot of thinking to get your mind in the state that it’s in.
Give yourself time to get comfortable with your mind. It takes time to tame a wild horse.
Pull in the reigns and say to the mind… “Whoa there Nellie, easy, easy does it now.”
Get to know how it operates. Watch its restless nature. Question it and see it for what it really is.
Meditation, or hanging out in the space between two thoughts has a way of washing away all the mind and psychological junk that has built up over time.
If you experience mindfulness causing anxiety or stress be patient with yourself. Slow down.
When you see that its just your silly mind running crazy like a wild horse…stop and say, “Easy Does It.”