To make sure that they did not become a tasty meal, our ancestors’ brains developed a necessary vigilance and unease which continually scanned their outer and inner worlds for signs of danger. This whisper of worry is still present today and so automatic that most are not even aware of it, but it is always there rearing its ugly head as anxiety, stress, and tension.
Neurologists estimate that a person is consciously aware of about 2,000 bits of information per minute. As impressive as this is, your brain is actually processing 400 billion bits of information per minute. When you think you are not doing anything, your brain is hard at work. This constant attentiveness, even when we are aware of it, can prevent relaxation and peace because our brain believes that we are never completely safe and can’t let down our guard. But, that is not true.
One way to turn this checker down a notch or two is to take a close look at this moment. Right here, right now, you are all right. Nothing is trying to eat you for dinner. No one is attacking you. You are not drowning. You are not dodging bullets. There is no crisis. Everything in your life may not be perfect, but you are OK. This is the act of consciously coming into the present. When we let our mind dwell in the future, it propagates worry and fear while delving into the past conjures regret and resentment. Indulging in these thought patterns too much can infringe on every day life and lead to depression.
Several times throughout your day, try taking a moment and noticing that you are all right, right now. The bills may be piling up with you having no idea of how they are going to get paid. Your mother may have Alzheimer’s and dealing with that is wearing you out. You may be starting to wonder if there really is someone out there for you, BUT in this moment, your heart is beating, you are breathing, and your mind is working. Underneath the circumstances, desires, and wants, you are OK. While fixing dinner, walking through the grocery store, driving to work, or reading emails, come into the present and remind your brain “I am all right, right now.”
In his book, Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time, Rick Hanson, writes:
… Sometimes you’re really not all right. Maybe something terrible has happened, or your body is very disturbed, or your mind is very upset. Do what you can at these times to ride out the storm. But as soon as possible, notice that the core of your being is okay, like the quiet place fifty feet underwater, beneath a hurricane howling above the sea.
Coming into the present moment calms the mind soothing the sympathetic nervous system reducing stress and anxiety in the brain and body. With dedicated repetition, over time, a person’s default mode can become this relaxed, peaceful state.
The practice of realizing that “I am all right, right now” has helped me to dramatically turn my mindset and life around for the better. This simple practice can change your life too.
image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/beth19/