Based on some of the comments and emails, I’m pretty sure a number of us have noticed a planning, worrying mind is a deeply rooted pattern.
Worry thought in writing this post: “Wait… Is worry a thought or an emotion? I want to continue with the exploration of thoughts… so can I write about worry today?”
Wikipedia to the rescue…
Worry refers to the thoughts, images, emotions, and actions of a negative nature in a repetitive, uncontrollable manner that results from a proactive cognitive risk analysis made to avoid or solve anticipated potential threats and their potential consequences.Wikipedia contributors. (2021, January 14). Worry. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 07:51, January 22, 2021, from
Sounds like both/and. Great! I can write about it! 🙂
Sebene Selassie wrote a post about worry a while ago. I can relate well to her opening few sentences:
Much of my energy can be drained by fear and worry. I’m not talking about big, scary fears of harm or death …. I mean the kind of restlessness and worry related to planning, achieving, solving, and fixing which dominates my thinking and really, dominates my being. The worry that I am never doing enough. The fear that I will be unproductive. So, I’d better use every moment of my day, even my meditation time, to keep planning it all outSebene Selassie. (2019, March 19). Worry is Wasted Energy. Ten Percent Happier.
In the article, she suggests three antidotes, which I think would be helpful for any sticky thought/emotional pattern:
- Notice this is happening.
- Build some temporary calm and compassion.
- Develop insight about what’s really going on.
The noticing requires mindfulness. I often can notice that worrying/planning ins happening in meditation because I feel a leaning forward in my posture. Instead of sitting upright in the present moment, there’s a tipping forward into the future that’s matched by my physical positioning. See if you can notice these connections between body and mind that can serve as cues.
To build some calm and compassion, Sebene invites a pause – to reconnect with the body, breath, sensations. In previous posts, we’ve covered some tools to help with this, like RAIN or MUK or STOP. These don’t have to be long practices – just a breath or two can help.
The insights will develop over time – and if we feel like we don’t have any insights yet, we can take in insights from teachers and books, and see how those teachings fit in our own life. We will start to learn, with experience, our patterns and conditioning. With insight, we can learn what leads to more well-being, and what leads to more stress and struggle.
Amita Schmidt has a short meditation (13 minutes), described as follows: “Are you stuck in worry, a thought, or a problem? This guided meditation can help give you a new perspective on your thoughts and your life. It is calming, spacious and insightful.”
Do you have any insights to share? Post a comment or send me an email!
With good wishes,