"A wise man once said, 'Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your unguarded thoughts.'" -- The Buddha
I want to share with you an important "Now Moment," the short, action-oriented pieces that come at the end of most of the chapters in The Now Effect. This little instruction can be enormously helpful in bringing to light how to gain freedom from thinking; and since thinking can be our number one bad habit, often launching us into increased stress or downward spirals of automatic negative thinking, it's a good thing to loosen our grip on.
Take this opportunity to reflect on a recent event where your mind jumped to a conclusion. How did it get there? Did your mood have anything to do with it? What would have been different if your mood had been flipped 180 degrees? Next time you become aware of your mind jumping to a conclusion, recognize that in that very moment you have created a little distance from the thought itself, and in this space you'll find a choice point and can choose to remind yourself that thoughts are not facts. If you're feeling imbalanced, you might bring in a daily building block, such as "STOP," "Mindful Check-In," or "The Breath as an Anchor" to get centered and then get perspective on where your head was at that time. You may discover how you came to that auto-pilot interpretation. This reality check will help you in future interactions.
This has relevance to everyday work and family stress, anxiety, depressive relapse, addiction, and even trauma reactions. We now know that when we're able to pause and name what's happening, it actually turns down activity on the fear circuit (amygdala) in the brain and puts our conscious brain (prefrontal cortex) online. Here is a good question to help us understand why we'd want to remember that thoughts aren't facts, even the ones that tell you there are:
"What would the days, weeks and months ahead be like if I wasn't so enslaved by my thoughts?"
Your answer to that question is your motivation, and also the "Now Effect" in action.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Adapted from Mindfulness and Psychotherapy.
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