“I am a music lover. I was curious if you think it is acceptable to have instrumental music playing in the background while meditating.
I find listening to world music such as Indian relaxation music and things of that sort tend to relax me. Should I meditate only in silence, or can I have instrumental as well?”
Listening to music is certainly an enjoyable, relaxing thing to do. People use it a lot to shut the mind up — it works. But it’s not so effective at generating awareness, which is what meditation is all about.
We want to be noticing thoughts pop, and have our attention in the space that thoughts happen. That is what calms the mind over time, and allows us to think on purpose again.
“I see a long future with my boyfriend. I want to marry this man, but then I get these unwanted thoughts saying you don’t love him blah blah, then boom — instant anxiety and I feel sick and nauseous.
I don’t understand what’s happening. It’s breaking my heart because I don’t ever want to leave him or him leave me because it would be awful! I just want to be happy.
It comes out of nowhere like I’ll be having a great time and then bam, these little thoughts pop up and it’s killing me inside. I’m crying writing this and want these terrible thoughts to go away. I HATE THEM!
He’s the best man I’ve ever had and don’t want to lose him. I’m so scared of these thoughts. Now they’re constant. I have no idea why they started but the thought of losing him and not having him with me or by my side through life shatters me. I want them to go away so badly.”
You cannot tell your mind not to think about something. If I tell you not to think of a pink elephant, it’s the first thing that pops into your mind. :-)
So something either has your attention or it doesn’t. If you don’t want a thought/idea to be part of your world, the only way to achieve that is by ignoring it / not caring about it.
This is what communicates to your mind that the thought is unimportant, irrelevant and meaningless.
HATE and FEAR are the opposite of not caring / ignoring.
By reacting to these thoughts with these emotions you are sending a very clear message to your mind that they are important, relevant and meaningful. That’s why they keep popping up more frequently, and with more intensity.
It’s your reaction to these ideas that’s key. It’s the equivalent of encountering a lion and then wondering why thoughts about the scary lion encounter keep popping into your head.
“Is it the subconscious/unconscious mind that generates thoughts, which are then popped into our conscious mind for us to become aware of? Just want to fully understand how the mind works.”
Your conscious mind is like a fairly narrow spotlight. It’s bright and clear but can pretty much only focus on one thing at a time. As you use this “spotlight,” you’re feeding that information to your subconscious mind, all the time.
I am CEO of a company and my life has been great — focus minded, career tracked and stress free (good stress only).
But a few months ago I had an anxiety attack (heart palpitations and faint feeling). I had a huge number of tests and was diagnosed with adrenal exhaustion. I also felt hyper sensitive and hyper aware, and my thinking patterns changed.
Then I began experiencing deep sadness, a feeling that time is passing me by and insomnia. I am now also experiencing a sort of ‘derealization’ like I am zoned out and losing touch with reality. I have an emotional numbness… even my family are starting to feel like strangers to me. Please help.
Everything you’ve described tells me that you’re experiencing burn out. Our vitality can trick us into thinking that what we’re currently doing is fine.
With health, there is usually no immediate cause and effect. We can run on adrenaline, drawing on our “base” vitality for a long time, years even.
But eventually you’ll get a sign, a message from your body that you can’t keep doing what you’re doing. In your case, it was an anxiety attack and the discovery that you were experiencing adrenal exhaustion.
You can have all the tests in the world but I can tell you with 100% certainty that there’s only one true cure: to correct your lifestyle. This is the only way to take the pressure off your mind and body, and experience health and vitality in the long-term. Continue reading “I feel burnt out and zoned out”→
What is your view on forgiveness and letting go?
HOW do you do that?
If we have high vitality and feel happy and care-free, then we naturally “don’t care” — because we have no need or desire to control anything. We are automatically “letting go” all the time.
The ego mind — our mentally constructed sense of self, is always trying to control others and events, whereas the care-free mind is lacking nothing, and so there is no desire to control, and there is nothing to forgive.
“I am a 22 year old student and am sick of my uncontrollable thoughts. My main problem is I can’t concentrate on my study matter. When I try to study I just sink into another world of imagination. After a few minutes I start thinking about college, family, my aims, girls.
I am highly sensitive. Others enjoy themselves, have fun and also study hard but I can’t do any of those things so easily. For every action I think about pros and cons. While talking with friends I try not to hurt anyone and I get too attracted towards girls. If I like someone I can just think about her, for whole days to months.
Please help me in getting rid of useless thoughts of hero imagination, girls, judging others behavior, of living a luxurious life, becoming popular etc. I just want to study, get high scores and be successful in my life.”
What is success?
First of all, I want you to relax about any ideas you have of being “successful.”
There’s a lot of pressure these days from parents and teachers to get qualifications and well-paid jobs. I understand this from a parent’s perspective.
Apart from notions of “success” they also worry that their child will live a life of financial struggle, and feel unfulfilled, by only being able to get low-paid, “menial” jobs. The common perception is that jobs like sweeping the streets or serving food represents failure.
The reality is that many high earners are in positions of great responsibility and their day is usually unhealthy and stressful. These jobs are often sedentary and demanding — people to manage, targets to hit, deadlines to meet. Stress, fast lunches and unhealthy snacks, a sedentary indoor lifestyle — these things are conducive to poor health and unhappiness. Continue reading “How to concentrate on studying without getting distracted”→
“My mother always has tension in her mind. Things which have happened in the past, or are happening, disturb her. She thinks too much about every household topic and worries about every minute topic related to family. She’s not able to to sleep at night. Does she have a serious problem or is it normal?”
I don’t believe she has a serious problem.
I think she just has deeply ingrained thought habits that cause her to worry about members of her family, at the expense of her own peace of mind…
A good first step is to ponder that everyone is responsible for their own lives, which will lead to a new acceptance and a new way of seeing things — at least intellectually.
Then, she can make a clear and calm decision (pact) that will become a reference for changing her behavior. In this case, a “worry hour” is a fantastic way to go. This way, she can still allow herself to worry about her family, but not habitually…
At first, her mind will keep trying to make her go back to the old way — thinking and worrying about family. Such is the power of habit. She must pay these thoughts no mind… ignore them… just see them as the old conditioning (which is what they are). They will then become less and less frequent. Continue reading “How to stop worrying about your family”→
I wanted to tell you about what happened to a Happy Guide reader called Matt because it’s a great case study, showing how quickly things can turn around.
It shows what’s possible when you start giving your body what it needs!
Here’s what happened…
We first heard from Matt when he left this comment on Mike’s unwanted thoughts article…
Today I realized how out of control my mind has become. Over the last few months It feels as though I’ve lost control of my thoughts and I’ve slowly slipped into the beginning of a deep depression. I spent much of my teenage years in that rut so I don’t want to go back. Somehow I got over that, but it took years. I can feel the darkness once again and it is almost enough to make me want to knock myself out and not wake back up.
Reading what you have said on how to stop the problem has given me that hope that I can stop it before it destroys me again. I was doing exactly what you said not to do to try and stop it. I was so terrified I was going to get taken down again and this time not get out. Just seeing how I am suppose to help myself in print makes it a lot easier for me to believe that it can actually help me. You and your website and the methods you explain are my weapon against my unwanted thoughts. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Matt, 29 August
Although I was pleased that Matt had found the article so helpful, I was well aware that in terms of lifestyle, everything affects everything else. This was just one of the six lifestyle elements for a happy, healthy life.