The Mindfulness Blog

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Don't Worry 'Bout A Thing

I love Bob Marley's music and this morning while walking the dog, I kept singing this refrain over and over, in my head. Until I finally noticed something: Today, I woke up worried.

Part of my mind immediately started trying to figure out why-- why am I worried, and what am I worried about? Ruminating, if you will    (I should start listening to myself). Another part of me advised that I should sit with my worry. Meditate on it (sometimes, I actually do listen to myself).

Allow the thoughts and emotions of worry to come, notice them, be curious about them, and let them pass. Return my attention to the breath (my chosen anchor), and begin again. Like an earworm that keeps playing over and over, allow the thoughts and emotions to come, notice them, examine them dispassionately, and let them pass, as I return to my anchor.

Closing the loop, by letting the thoughts and emotions pass, is really quite comforting. And if there is any magic to meditation (there isn't), it comes from practice-- from closing the loop. Or is it more like opening the loop? Letting whatever the mind has cooked up, or latched onto, just pass. Unresolved. That's the real "aha" moment-- letting thoughts and emotions pass, in the same way they come to us-- ambiguous, nagging and random.

There's time enough to figure things out. Our minds are hard-wired to do that, and meditation is not anathema to that process. Quite to the contrary-- while our left-brain is working through the details and forming a "conclusion" we can both own and defend, our right-brain is simultaneously dealing with the emotional fall-out of our thoughts and emotions. It's kind of like walking and chewing gum, at the same time-- if we work at it (if we practice), we can learn to do it.

For those of us who recognize the emotional truth of the right-brain (I do), but are often stuck in the logical truth of the left-brain (I am), it sometimes helps to think of meditation as learning to chew gum. Or, more simply, just learning to chew-- which is something we all do. All of us chew on things-- our minds chew on things. That's what they do, even if we're not consciously aware of it.

Maybe we should get to know our brains a bit better? Maybe we can train our brains to be more flexible-- more facile-- with our thoughts and emotions? For some of us, that in itself is a worry. For the rest of us, it's an opportunity we embrace.

The opportunity comes with practice-- with the practice of meditation, and a return to what I believe to be a natural ability we are all born with-- mindfulness!


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