I was on a trip in the south of Spain, and just as I was getting ready to leave my hotel room to go out exploring, I received a text from my Mum letting me know that the company I had booked my flights through had closed down. On receiving this text I felt an initial pang of anxiety flit in my lower stomach – the result of my mind wanting to know something it couldn’t.
My practice of present moment awareness is becoming more and more natural these days, and here was a good test for it. I stayed in the present as much as possible, although this present moment wasn’t without my mind wanting a piece of it. It wanted to race, it wanted to work it out, and it wanted to know what was going to happen next. I had to catch it a few times as it thought up contingency plans to try to protect itself from the unknown. One of these knee-jerk desires of the mind was to text work to let them know the situation and book a day off in the event I was late home. But I didn’t know I was going to be late home, my mind was presuming without knowing – trying to know, so it had an absolute but without actually knowing.
Luckily, I recognised this early on and laughed at it slightly – but only slightly – as I’ve come to learn not to even give my mind that much attention, as to even laugh at it too much.
Before I went out for the day, I thought it best to check the website that had been set up for people abroad with cancelled flights. On doing this, my mind was given a ‘semi-definite’, which it attempted to wallow in and make it a definite-definite! The equivalent flight the day earlier than mine had been rescheduled to fly from Seville or Malaga (I can’t remember which) so a coach was put on from Gibraltar (my original airport) to one of the aforementioned airports, and the flight would leave at 1.30am the following morning instead of 7pm the night before. My mind now had this ‘semi-definite’, something it could cling to in the hope of having something concrete to lean on. I smiled again, because although this is a very plausible outcome, once again it is not definite – it is just a figment of my mind, it isn’t real.
After double-checking the bus times to the airport with staff at the hotel reception, I meditated and brought my mind to complete rest. I’ve found that only when my mind is at complete rest can I make any real productive and informed decisions. And although my mind was now at complete rest, it was a further hour before I was completely free of any funny feeling caused by the flight arrangements. After this, I was completely happy – completely happy – with the unknown.
This was a sign of great achievement for me, as only five years ago this anxiety would’ve lingered with me for a lot longer than an hour, and would’ve been a lot more intense.
Recently I watched an author speak in London, and he finished his talk by saying that his greatest achievement in life, was without doubt, his ability to stop thinking. I smiled as the goosebumps ran the length of my spine and out across my body on hearing this. It really does put it into perspective on how great an achievement this is, when a best-selling author ranks it as his number one achievement in life.
To stop thinking, in my opinion, is the greatest achievement any human being can acquire. To stop that train of sporadic notions that build on each other, stoking the boiler room of thoughts and increasing its velocity with every moment, is to find your place in life in each and every thing that you do.
Meditation is just my way of dealing with anxiety, each person will have their own way that works best for them.
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