Friday, July 4, 2008

Fears: A New Toy for the Monkey in my Brain

I have been thinking a lot about suffering being caused from attachment (Buddhism not parenting). In my case, it is almost completely future oriented. I don't worry so much about what is happening in the now or what is past. With the exception of literally one experience of my life, there is nothing that I ruminate on that has already happened. Everything for me is about worries and fears about the future.

Today I actually caught myself ruining my day because I was worried about something that won't happen for a long time. Or maybe not ever. I caught myself, recognized what I was doing, and started reporting my present. For example, "I am walking, I am opening the refrigerator, I am getting out juice for Pablo...." etc. It grounded me in the present as long as I did it, but I found my monkey brain going back to my fears. Then I thought, "oh, my monkey has a new toy!" and that's what it is when we create a worry. Our brains are wired to find solutions to possible problems, so as soon as it occurs to us that something MIGHT happen, our brains naturally start trying to cope with it ACTUALLY happening. Even if it won't happen for 20 years.

This way of thinking about it really helped me feel less judgmental about my obsession with my fears, which is great progress. Usually when I find myself doing something I don't like, I use it as a weapon to make myself feel even worse. Using the monkey metaphor helped me be kinder.

I also have started using a basic loving kindness meditation as a kind of mantra. When I see that I need a break from whatever I am thinking, I breathe with:

May I be happy
May I be well
May I be safe
May I be peaceful
May I be free from suffering.

I use it as a reset. It really helps.

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