In times of uncertainty it’s so easy to get caught in negative thinking. Thinking where we attempt to predict the future, where we try to analyze and solve all our problems before they arise. Thinking that sends us into a tailspin which becomes more and more difficult to pull out of the longer we allow it to continue. Thinking that ultimately becomes our experience of life, as it shapes our beliefs.
This reminds me of a quote that, like so many quotes, is falsely attributed to Mark Twain.
“I am an old man and have known many troubles, but most of them never happened.”
I’m very guilty of getting caught in this thinking. I’ve let my thoughts run amok and still do. Allowing them to take me to dark, dangerous places from where there is no return, only to find that once my mind calms...I’m OK! My children are happy and healthy and all is truly fine.
Meditation is what helps me create a little space between my thoughts and my experience of reality. It helps me observe what is often referred to as the “monkey mind”, allowing me to put a pause between the stimulus and my response.
In meditation it’s often falsely believed that you need to stop your thinking. This is not true. The objective (for lack of a better term) is to witness your thinking or step into the role of the observer. To witness your body / mind and their response to the experience of life. This observation of your thoughts, emotional experiences and bodily sensations can help you realize that while, yes; these experiences are part of you. They are not You. You are more than just these experiences.
Having a meditation practice can help you build and strengthen the experience of You as the observer and your ability to witness yet not identify with your thoughts.
“Life is bristling with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to cultivate one's garden.”
Please don’t think I have this figured out. Believe me, I don’t. I’m just sharing the practices and teachings that help me navigate life with a little more strength and ease.
Here is a simple guided meditation I do prior to practicing tai chi. I hope you find it’s useful weathering your storm.
“And there is nothing more wretched or foolish than premature fear. What madness it is to anticipate one's troubles!”
Seneca—Epistolae Ad Lucilium. XCVIII.