3 min read.
These are worrying times for most of us. Even before COVID-19, worry and anxiety had reached epidemic proportions in our modern society. (You might have heard the expression “Xanax is the new Prozac”?!) If we are prone to worry, there certainly seems more and more cause for it as the days and months roll by, especially right now.
How is it that some people you know are coping fine with everything that’s going on right now, and even thriving on it, whereas others are getting overwhelmed and depressed? Of course there are various factors at play, but there are also good methods for alleviating worry and stress that anyone can try.
It is good to know that worry is not inevitable. And meditation and Buddhism can help a huge amount; they are designed to help. (Please also follow your doctor’s advice if you have very severe symptoms).
Plus, we need to try and solve our own sense of anxiety and hopelessness if we have any desire to help our world, which a lot of us do at the moment. As we have probably all noticed, it is not easy to help others when we are feeling unbalanced or unhappy ourselves.
I was interested to see that the dictionary.com definition for worry is:
To torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; fret.
Note the word “oneself”. When it comes right down to it, we are tormenting ourselves — no one is doing it to us. This is because we are the ones thinking our thoughts. If we could control our thoughts, we could get rid of our worry. If we could change our thoughts, we could — we would — learn to be peaceful.
Break the vicious cycle
When we notice our anxious symptoms, responding to some perceived threat such as COVID-19, we think that we can’t cope with the situation, and therefore we become more anxious. This is the start of the vicious cycle of anxiety, the cycle we have to break.
If we are prone to worry, this means that our thoughts are thinking us rather than the other way around. We have inadvertently boarded trains of thoughts that are taking us from worry stations right through to panic stations. We have to find a way to get off.
We don’t have to think all our thoughts. We don’t have to give them power — the only power a thought actually has is the power we give it. If we learn to control our mind, we can think our thoughts rather than the other way around. We can transform our thoughts and we can transform ourselves.
Thoughts depend upon the thinker just as the thinker depends upon the thoughts — change one, the other changes automatically.
This is a simple but devastatingly profound insight from Buddha, which can change everything. And we can experience it for ourselves by learning simple meditation.
Meditation has proven benefits in stopping worry — including even the simplest breathing meditation that anyone can do, such as a 15-minute peace meditation that you can find here. Basically, in this meditation, we are learning to make our mind bigger so that our problems become smaller. And we are also learning that we can control our own thoughts, that we do not need to fear them.
Here at KMC Colorado we are continuing to offer all our meditations and teachings online to help people in Colorado and the neighboring states deal with these current uncertainties and provide some community. We would love to have you join us.