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How do you stop worrying?

Arjuna Ishaya who is a  Bright Path Ishaya monk and meditation teacher often pops into the BRUU office for a chat and cup of tea. Here he shares some wisdom on worry, a topic I am sure we have all had experience with.

Worry is a huge problem for a lot of people and someone asked me this morning how do I stop worrying. So, I wanted to write about how I have learned to overcome worry.

So grab a cuppa, have a read and see what sticks.

Money, your family, your relationship, the state of the world … at times we can all have worries or anxieties. Worry, the feeling, is caused by a thought.

By thinking you create a feeling that you don't like. It’s not so much about the object of your worry, but how you’re thinking about it.

Simple I know, but it's important to realise, because you don’t have a lot of control over the object but you can learn to have control over the thinking. Freedom from worry lies within you and not by fixing the object.

You must realise that it’s your obsession (strong word I know) with the object that causes the feeling. It’s often super creative people who get anxious, and they get anxious when they have nothing to do. Like sitting on a plane, last thing at night, then their minds want to do something, so they pick at something, anything - and the result is worry.

You’re never worried when you’re busy because you don’t have time to think. Distraction from your thoughts therefore is a great tactic.

That’s why so many turn to mediation to get comfortable with waiting, with doing nothing, with not letting your mind wander anywhere it wants, with distraction from any obsession.

So what do you do when you notice the first signs of worry?

Simple, get out of your head and the sooner the better, because your thoughts have momentum. Get up, do something different, take some deep slow breaths counting along the way, change your focus.

To do this you must realise that worrying about the object IN NO WAY is going to help you. You should realise that you create the worry because you think it helps.

You, in a way, are addicted to worrying.

When you REALLY get tired of the worry, you will get tired of the thinking and then you can do something about it. You must be prepared not to think about your favourite concern - cold turkey, if you like.

You also have to understand that you have been thinking certain ways for a long long time. Sometimes you will just unconsciously start, and “fall” into worry, so this will be a journey and it may return from time to time.

No worries, be gently stubborn, keep coming back to what you want to grow and nurture in your mind, and life. Practice will make perfect.

Another good technique is to remember you aren’t worried, you have worry. It helps to see it as something outside of you, like a virus or something to be defeated. If you ARE it, then there’s not a lot of room to move with it. If it’s something you HAVE, then you can get a half-step back from it and be mindful of it.

One of the worst things about worry and anxiety (or depression, anger etc) is getting anxious about your anxiety. Heaping anxiety upon anxiety is the real cause of most people’s troubles. The anxiety is one thing, the thinking around it creates more and more anxiety. The fact is that although worry and panic is unpleasant, it will go away so try not to feed it by adding to it.

Let it float, let it be there, experience it - but stay detached (half-step backed) from it. You’re not going to die, and it won’t last forever. You will learn to deal with it, and ultimately end it.

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