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We all want peace of mind, but often fail to achieve it: we worry about our workload; if money will last until payday; what our friends, colleagues and even strangers think of us. Our minds endlessly circle around everything that could possibly go wrong. Even when we achieve something or solve a problem, we just start to worry about the next thing. Problems are real: we can lose our job, illness can strike, relationships fall apart. It feels like our worries will never change and we’re all alone. We tend to blindly follow this way of thinking, even if it’s unhelpful and makes us miserable. But ultimately, tranquility and anxiety both come from our own minds.
To overcome anxiety, we need to build up good habits based on a realistic and much more farsighted outlook. Simply put: if we want peace of mind, we need to think differently. “Guard your mind,” the Buddha advised. We shouldn’t believe everything we think, but take responsibility for ourselves and actively deal with our problems. Just as we’ve all got the ability to learn new skills or languages we can also train our minds to cultivate happiness and peace through meditation If we spend a moment every morning to set ourselves up for the day ahead, guarding our minds becomes second nature: something that naturally arises whenever we’re frustrated or low. To start your meditation, take three deep breaths. Imagine your anxieties as a black balloon: all the fears, hopes, disappointments and jealousy. We can burst this balloon by thinking more realistically and using compassion as a tool.
Consider the following facts for a few minutes: 1. Interdependence. It’s not all about “me”: everything arises from countless causes and conditions. We can’t blame just one person or situation for our unhappiness – not even ourselves.
2. Impermanence. Sooner or later, everything has to change. Life goes up and down and we will never be able to control everything.
3. Compassion. We are not alone: every other human on earth has problems, too. Realising these truths destroys this balloon of anxiety: Imagine a bright light taking its place and rest a little in this peaceful feeling.
This short meditation helps turn our mind from self-centred thinking towards a more compassionate view: Caring for other people, however, is scientifically proven to reduce anxiety.
We all feel the natural urge to change the people and the world around us, but the key lies within our own hands – it’s when we change ourselves that we find true peace of mind.
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