[Nov 2013] My Worrying Brain

I wake up relaxed, after a long sleep that I craved for. I feel easiness. The sun shines through the windows and the curtains. I hear the sound of birds and animals from outside. The weather is sparklingly lovely. I am bathing in the wonders surrounding me and the uplifting feelings inside. I want to immerse myself in the beauty of the present moment. It lasts for another few seconds when my thinking brain turns on and floods me with thoughts and pulls me back to another reality.

The present moment fades away to the background. Anxious thoughts flow into my attention, with the difficulties of the past and the worries of the future. I ruminate about the challenges and burdens of today. Anxiety takes possession of my body. My brain switches into planning mode with the promise that careful, detailed planning can cease all uncertainty. I am listing the duties of the day, with all their dangers and risks. I can vividly feel the cramp in my stomach. I am nauseous. The easiness of the present moment is long forgotten. All I can feel is the increasing anxiety and stiffness in my muscles.

The process is all too familiar. In my early twenties, when something was wrong in my life, for example when I didn’t have a girlfriend for a while. I felt unhappy and lonely, and I went to play soccer in the evening. The game drifted me away from my feelings and problems. It grabbed me and focused my senses and my attention to the present moment. I dissolved in playing. I was fighting, running, playing, creating, thinking, all in the present moment. I was happy. Then, after the match ended, and my body started cooling, my brain started functioning again in its usual way, and soon, in an unexpected moment, it reminded me of how unhappy I was. All my problems were back with full-strength.

Or just a few months ago, when I visited my ex-girlfriend, who studied abroad. Even the travel seemed an insurmountable challenge to me. I got on the plane with crippling anxiety. I listened desperately to a breathing meditation tape to relax. It worked so well that I could even fall asleep. When I woke up, I felt comfortable, relaxed, and happy. It was wonderful. And it lasted about a minute when my brain came along and ruined it all, reminding me of my problems and the next challenges waiting for me around the corner.


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