August 16, 2011

Busting Stress and Anxiety Using the Power of Your Intuitive Mind. 7 Ways

There’s a saying that’s popular in the yoga world, by a man with a very fit mind:

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

That’s from Albert Einstein. The biggest benefit of beginning to recognize that we have gotten caught up in this is rediscovering our independence from our rational mind’s stress, worry and anxiety and recognizing our intuitive mind’s capacity for freedom, peace and strength.

1 The intuitive mind. The intuitive mind can be understood as connected to our essential self, the part of us that knows we exist whether our rational mind is thinking or not. The intuitive mind is connected to that part of us that can witness our anxious thoughts, understanding we are separate from them.

2. Working with the intuitive mind. It’s possible to shift from letting the rational mind dominate with anxious, irrational messaging and shift into the freeing, peaceful, strengthening presence of the intuitive mind. The first and most powerful practice to enable this is witnessing. Witnessing means we consciously notice that we are thinking. One part of this practice can be labeling any thought—no matter what it is, but especially if it’s an anxious one—as thinking. So imagining that “It will be so overwhelming to have to speak in front of that roomful of people today” becomes simply “Thinking.”

3. This practice can be taken even further. An Ayur Vedic doctor I know recommends noticing whether or not the thoughts are “Imagining”, “Rehashing”, or “Planning.” So “When I go to that business meeting, there will be so many important people sitting at the table with me, judging what I’m saying” becomes “Imagining.” “He said that, then I said this, and then he did that” becomes “Rehashing.” And “When I get to the office, first I’ll check my email, then I’ll return that phone call, then I’ll start on the project that’s due next week” becomes “Planning.” When we label thoughts, it can help us shift away from the details of them and recognize their broader implications—we’re not present. We’re caught up in something that doesn’t even exist.

4. No planning? I’m not suggesting that you don’t plan. We know life goes more smoothly if you do. But micro-planning, much like micro-managing, can actually cause more stress and anxiety than it prevents, leading to feelings of overwhelm and too much to-do. So plan the big things, like the major goals you’d like to complete—but leave the micro-planning of the mini details of your day off the menu. Once you get used to this, you’ll find that your intuitive mind can guide you through a flow of steps that help you complete your goals—without all the mental chatter and stress.

5. Cultivating trust. It is possible to cultivate the belief that things are going to turn out okay. Witnessing our thoughts is key to this practice, too. Once we begin to notice our thoughts, and label them as a habit that doesn’t help us, we can work towards letting them go. And once that happens, we can move towards cultivating trust. The same mind muscle that enables us to label and let go of thoughts enables us to create new ones. So “What if this doesn’t go according to plan? What if this or that happens instead?” can become “Imagining. Letting that go. Whatever happens, whether or not it’s exactly as planned, will be okay, and we’ll be able to manage it.”

6. Love your mind. Resistance to the thoughts you witness is counter-productive. As psychiatrist and founder of Analytical Psychology Carl Jung said, “What we resist persists.” Battling your thoughts will increase their dominance. Instead of beating yourself or your mind up for worrying, planning, rehashing or imagining, try accepting that you do. You are who you are for good reasons, and your anxiety and stress stems from the same character traits that likely make you a sensitive, caring person. Accepting this, rather than battling it, can help the stress and anxiety lessen.

7. Dive into it. One way to practice accepting stress and anxiety is to get curious about it. What does it feel like? What sensations are you feeling physically? What are you feeling emotionally? Where does this show up in your body? In the same way that noticing the nature of your thoughts helps you to distance yourself from them, noticing the physiological manifestations of stress and anxiety helps you to distance yourself from it. Your intuitive mind recognizes that you can be the observer, rather than the reactor.

With love,


p.s. for the science behind intuition, and 5 ways to boost yours, feel free to check out my latest post on LibreLiving.com.

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