When we experience anxiety, we feel a desire to escape the negative sensation and achieve tranquility. In this talk by Matthew Brensilver, you’ll learn about how this approach is backward: it’s being present (not escaping ) that brings tranquility.
There’s no doubt about it: many of us lead hectic, stressful lives. We can go days without feeling like we even have a moment to pause and decompress. Between the demands of family, work, and the long list of responsibilities that come along with being human in the modern world, we sometimes feel as though we’re being pulled in a dozen different directions all at once.
On the one hand, engaging in mindfulness exercises and practicing mindfulness meditation can do a lot to relieve these sorts of feelings. However, it’s not always as simple as just sitting down, practicing meditation, and suddenly feeling relief. In fact, attempting to “be mindful” can sometimes have the opposite effect on us. Before we know it, we’re feeling worse instead of better.
Why is it that attempting to meditate or practice mindfulness can actually exacerbate our feelings of anxiety and restlessness?
In this hour long talk, Matthew Brensilver discusses the nature of anxiety and tranquility. According to Matthew, the sheer experience of being human is sometimes so intense that feelings of anxiety, restlessness, and worry are unavoidable. However, our tendency to attempt to wrestle these feelings into submission is a step in the wrong direction.
As Matthew says, we can’t simply practice mindfulness meditation as a means of escaping feelings of anxiety. This is like using the mind to try to subdue the mind, which is bound to fail. This makes sense when you consider things from a broader perspective. After all, the act of attempting to control or escape from your anxious mind is in and of itself an anxiety-laden act. Approaching anxiety in this way will mostly likely fail to lead to tranquility.
Instead, Matthew suggests another path to tranquility: true presence. We hope you enjoy this hour long mindfulness talk on anxiety and tranquility.
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Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]
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