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8 Mindful Exercises to Worry less despite COVID19 - Inspired by Eckhart Tolle & Ram Dass

There is a saying in sub-Saharan Africa that describes depression in simple words as “the habit of thinking too much”. While thinking a lot does not necessarily lead to depression, it can take away our peace.


An innocent thought drips into the mind like a raindrop creating a paddle of more unpleasant thoughts, next thing we know, it turns into a river of negative stories or what-if-scenarios.


None of that serves us, let's be honest. We could also call it unproductive worry.


My latest worries circle around, what a surprise, the new vaccine for COVID19, its unknown long-term effects and the consequences it might have for everyone and what it means for a traveller like me. I especially worry about the wellbeing of my parents.


Does that topic trigger any worries for you?


Hold on, don't follow the temptation of “thinking too much”.


Right now, I am looking for an apartment and a job, as I decided to stay in Mexico till the end of 2020 and not go back to Germany, where I am originally from. This brings along some wonderfully terrifying worries of “What if I run out of money” - and on it goes.


Our worries are valid, but...


I realize, these fears are still privileged, there are people in my Mexican neighbourhood who live in houses without roofs. But privileged or not, the worries are there and wherever we are in life, on our journeys, our worries are real and valid, no matter how much they differ.


Here is another relatable unproductive worry for many: “Why did she or he didn’t reply to my text?”.


A classic. A complete waste of energy.


Do you remember your worries from 3 days ago?


Take a moment to become aware of your worry today. Pick any.


Then take a minute to remember your worry from 3 days ago. Often, we can't even remember, can you? What's the point of a worry on Monday, if you cannot remember it Thursday?


Let's give ourselves some compassion, for all the energy poured into open space.


Oh, you may put a note into your calendar to check back in with the worry you identified today and see if it still exists in 3 days or you came up with a new one.


Humans have great imagination, we are the only creatures (as far as we know) who can imagine a future. Why do we use this against us instead of creating supportive , optimistic stories in our minds?


There are plenty of meditations, mindfulness techniques and relaxation practice to help us notice our thoughts.


Here are some of my favorite exercises to let go of worry:


Note: If this seems "too spiritual" and you usually do not practise "this kind of stuff" - maybe you can see it as an experiment or even a game with the attitute "Let`s see what happens".


1. The blue flamingo.

When I tell you to not think of a blue flamingo, you will think of a blue flamingo. If you try not to worry, your resistance will make the worries bigger. So, accept that you worry. It saves energy if you stop resisting and start accepting. Let the worry pop up like a beach-ball on the surface of the ocean so you can take a closer look and decide what to do with the ball.


2. The Bullsh*t-FM.

Imagine, your mind is a radio stationyou can tune into the channel of your choice. Several spiritual leaders use this metaphor of the radio or TV station, among them Ram Dass and Abraham Hicks. If the radio station you are currently tuned into plays a song you don’t like, you choose another station. You tune your radio until you find a song that feels good. We can do the same with our thoughts by noticing which thought is not serving us and then exchanging it for a useful or even nurturing thought. Let me put it this way: Turning off the Bullshit – FM is hard, but you can change the song or at least adjust the volume.



3. Eckhart Tolle`s practice of shifting awareness into your body.

There is a separate awareness outside the thinking mind, some call it the higher self. The more often we sit in stillness to recognize our thoughts, the better we get at stepping out of our thinking minds. We learn to observe our thoughts and therefore liberate ourselves from them. Eckhart Tolle describes a practice which guides your attention into the palms of your hands. As soon as you move your focus into your body, in this case into your hands, you take a step away from being completely absorbed by you thoughts. Another option is to focus on your breath, follow each inhale and exhale and count them if it helps you concentrate. You can do this anywhere.


4. Shift your attention to your heart, away from the brain.

Deepak Copra includes this in some of his meditations. In the mindful practice one shifts the focus to the heartbeat. You can place your hand on your heart if you like. Then you inquire how you feel. You listen to your heart. Any feeling that comes up, you allow yourself to feel it without judging or labeling the emotion. Taking the judgement away allows you to observe how you feel instead of thinking about it. It takes away the layer of unkind self-assessment.


5. Imagine, your mind is a stage.

Your thoughts are the performers and you can choose to pay attention to the play, to applause if you like the actors (aka. Your thoughts) or to leave the theatre altogether to attend another show (aka. Shift your focus towards another thought).



6. Write it out.

Grab a journal or a piece of paper and start with “How do I feel today?”. Write down the answer without judgement. Then ask: “What can I do to energize myself?”. You might come up with a simple answer of self-care.


7. Visualize how you want to feel.

Take a moment to dream about how you would feel without your worries. Then take one step towards that. A single step a day is enough. For example, making yourself a cup of tea to relax, writing that email, or reading a page of that book you've been wanting to read.


8. Let go of the need to control your thoughts.

That might sound contradicting to the other points I made, but hear me out. The exercises are there to create awareness and a distance between you and your thoughts, so you can let them go. Awareness is the opposite of controlling the outcome, the thought or feeling. It is a gentle observation of what is happening , then taking a step back to decide, if it serves you or not.


You have the choice.



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