Have you ever caught yourself having an argument or debate with someone and getting yourself all worked up and upset only to realize that the whole discussion was taking place in your mind? The other person wasn’t even there. It was just you and your mind. Your mind began the argument without even letting you know and it’s hard to decipher exactly what the trigger was. We do this constantly and cause ourselves unnecessary stress and anxiety and can even lose sleep because of it. Much of the time, the things we worry about are not even going to happen, but our mind convinces us that they will. It’s quite amazing to think about how much of our life is spent in the reality that our mind creates versus the actual reality that is in front of us.
An untamed and untrained mind negatively impacts our physical health. When we experience a nightmare, our body begins perspiring, our heartbeat increases, and our breathing speeds up. All of these physical symptoms were solely caused by the mind. The mind made us believe that we were in danger and this convinced our body to react as if it was really happening.
The more we understand how the mind works and how it affects our physical and mental health, the more we have to conclude that the mind is the main cause of our problems and suffering. We give ourselves so much anxiety by misunderstanding and misinterpreting another person’s words or behavior. Too often, we can let that misunderstanding brew in our mind for days, weeks, months or even years.
While this tendency cannot be fully stopped, by becoming aware of the way the mind functions, we can significantly reduce the amount of anxiety we experience due to false conceptions. With a little training and practice, we can begin to learn to press the pause or stop button when we see the mind causing us anxiety without any good reason.
Mindfulness practices are not complicated. However, in order for them to be effective, some consistency is important which is the case for almost everything else in life that we hope to benefit from. If we can simply sit everyday for five minutes and gradually increase our practice by one or two minutes each month, we will see our perspectives on life change for the better. Deep intentional breathing and focusing on how we’re feeling are simple ways to start a regular practice.