A response to someone's question as part of the one-to-one service
I'm having a hard time distinguishing refocusing from escaping. My thoughts will whirr and whirr - like a cyclone. I understand I need to let them be, but should I refocus on the breath?
Or would this be escaping?
How do observe the storm, yet lean away from it?
Is the act of following my breath - say before I give a speech, to keep my mind centered and away from thoughts about me failing - an attempt to escape?
Should I allow them to go crazy? If I do I find I get caught in them. Do I bring attention back to the breath?
I feel like my attempts to go to the breath are attempts to escape and are making it worse. Is that just another thought?
Even if it is an attempt to escape, it's ok if it helps. I know you mentioned it seems to make it worse, so it just depends how much you are resisting yourself.
"Wow, look at how nervous my mind is making my body feel. Wow. I think I'll take a few deep breaths," is different than the anxiety that says "Oh shit, I'm nervous. Shit, what if it gets worse and makes me mess up? Ill try to focus on my breath."
Let the storm come, but lose interest. You don't have to cling to it. The breath is more pleasant, there is nothing wrong with leaning to the breath, but the EXPECTATION of what the storm SHOULD be doing is what creates more trouble.
We have a natural tendency to avoid pain, so you can avoid pain by losing interest in mind storms that just create pain. If someone said to you "stay in this room and burn, or go in the other room and be comfortable," there is nothing wrong with walking in the other room. So there is nothing wrong with withdrawing attention from painful thoughts and directing it to where there is no pain. Just do that and give it some space, some time. When the mind questions it, just keep giving It a chance. The mind storm does not want to starve. Your interest and attention is food.
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