Here’s some NON breaking news about the mind, it loves to wander.
The feature in Twitter called “Threads” fascinates me because when left unguarded our mind tends to think exactly like that. Like a string of thoughts one leading to another and often times going nowhere. Perhaps a better word would be “spiral” for this phenomenon but let’s discuss that on a different day.
There isn’t inherently good or bad with thought spirals but once you hit a “sour-tasting” thought in that chain of thoughts, it tends to invoke an age-old human emotion and suddenly now you are anxious.
I’m sure you have experienced this before in one way or the other. If you watch the news for even 10 minutes, a flurry of strong emotions can come hitting you. “Why are people acting the way they are, why are people killing each other, why are they hating on each other and being jerks to each other? What has become to us? Why are people finding new ways to distance one from the other and sling mud at each other? And there goes the spiral on and on. It’s all breaking news which has increasingly become a welcoming trap door ready to trigger fear and anxiety in you.
People think the internet is wild. True. But want to know what’s wilder? Your own mind.
It can create mental threads, crazy spirals and tangle itself in complex thoughts even on the most peaceful days even without the internet, if left unguarded.
What’s to remember is that when you are usually tangled in a web of thoughts, you are outside of your direct experience of life. Wild things are happening around the world (not to be forgotten!) and yes they may be factual too yet you have to realize they are out of your reality.
What’s real is your direct experience in the present moment. Right here. Right now. Everything else is your mental self-talk. The narrative we tell ourselves about us and about the world.
How do we fix this anxiety?
Catch yourself when you drift away, drop your thoughts and bring yourself back to your present. It can be rather annoying always trying to watch your mind slip but it gets better with practice.
Mindfulness is processing your present through the lens of non-judgmental awareness. Nothing more.
Cory Muscara, one of my favorite meditation teachers who’s quite famous on the app “Simple Habit” once shared an amazing haiku to help explain how much additional baggage we add to our direct experience.
The old pond
A frog jumps in
That’s it. That’s the reality of your present experience, stay in that. Everything else is commentary.