Mindfulness has changed my view on life, and it has changed my brain. I attribute most of my current emotional state to the philosophy behind mindfulness. The practice gave me the window to actively view the cause of anxiety within myself.
Growing up, I often scoffed at the spiritual teachers my mother would introduce me to. I would play devil’s advocate, saying their words were unrealistic and unfounded. I also believed my beliefs were solid, and my world view wouldn’t change. It was my original introduction to those beliefs that founded mindfulness that shattered this sentiment for the better.
Like many people, when I entered the adult world my relationship with my emotions resembled a battlefield. I would strictly fight back against social anxiety, insecurities, and discomfort in general.
This was unhealthy, but manageable through the many distractions that existed in my life. That is until I started experiencing depersonalization. To be frank, it doesn’t really matter if you understand this. Mindfulness applies to everything at all times.
The point is, I felt like I lost my “control” over my brain. I feared the moment anxiety would kick in, and felt like I constantly battled intrusive thoughts.
Cure might not be the right word here. If you know anything about mindfulness, there is no goal to the practice, the peace that follows from mindfulness is an added benefit.
What mindfulness does cure, is the continuation of the root cause to many of our unnecessary anxieties.
Put simply, it’s a shift in perception to observation. Mindfulness is not meant to procure any specific state of mind, or change your emotional state. It’s a practice to habitually change the way we react to what happens to us.
This is great to know, but instead of elaborating on its ineffably mystical qualities, I’ll stick to its practical application.
How Mindfulness Actually Helped Me
It’s easier to understand the problems that come with not being mindful, then trying to articulate it exactly.
Every time we approach anxiety with the goal to change the feeling, we immediately make it more difficult for the brain to be at peace.
It may seem counterintuitive, but look at it this way. To “us”, anxiety seems bad, but to the brain, it’s just following protocol. There is no good or bad emotion to the brain, they all have the same value. When we strain to remove anxiety and cling to happy feelings, we throw off the balance of the brain.
This can create additional alarm bells for us, and forces us to try to continually push the brain to be in a specific state.
Instead of calming us down, this will often have the opposite effect.
The radical moment for me, was when I would experience thoughts that would sky rocket my anxiety in the past, but were just observations for me now.
It’s not that my thoughts and emotions were never uncomfortable, but I stopped targeting them as bad things I needed to get rid of. I started looking at control over the brain as an illusion, or at least unproductive.
Back To The Present
Today I feel much more peaceful than I ever have. This is not to say that I don’t feel any anxiety or sadness, but the process is much, much less involved. The kicker to this experience is that the implementation of mindfulness was not some type of wizardry. It’s more a practice of not doing the things that cause us unnecessary discomfort. That means that I’m not constantly focusing on my anxiety to ensure it’s obedient…it’s more like we’re on the same team.
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