Anxiety free: stop worrying and quieten your mind
THE ONLY WAY TO OXYGENATE YOUR BRAIN AND STOP EXCESSIVE AND USELESS THOUGHTS FEATURING THE BUTEYKO BREATHING METHOD AND MINDFULNESS.
This book is for any person who wishes to have clearer functioning of his or her mind and not to be bogged down with useless thinking. Within three weeks the result will be more control over thoughts, better concentration, more energy, more joy, happiness and appreciation for life. This is a simple and straightforward self-help book approached from two different and yet related perspectives.
The first is about correcting breathing volume using a physician-developed programme known as the Buteyko Breathing Method. Chronic overbreathing is a habit present with any person who experiences stress, anxiety, panic attacks and depression. It causes both a constriction of blood vessels and reduced delivery of oxygen to tissues and organs, most notably the brain. The Buteyko Method is a simple approach that significantly improves oxygenation of the brain, resulting in far less brain cell excitability.
The second aspect deals with recognising the activity of the mind, the nature of thought and how to step out of thought. This too is essential to understanding your mind and taking control.
The mind is regarded as the most important capability of the human species. Yet, most people have little control over it as it races from thought to thought. Mind activity, stress, depression and anxiety are nothing more than the absence of control. How much control do you have over your mind? For how long can you choose to stop thinking?
A quiet mind is one that you have control over. Quite simply, you can choose to think or not to think. You don’t get lost in trains of useless thinking. Most of the time, you know what is taking place. Without control over our minds, we have nothing. It is the one part of us that determines our quality of life on earth, yet it receives little attention from our educational, religious and medical institutions. How insane is that?
If only you had a chance to look inside people’s minds, you would see the same turmoil that goes on in your own head. Hidden behind the nice white smile is fear of the future and regrets from the past. A racing and repetitive mind is just below the surface. It might not have reached the depths that someone in depression has reached, but at the same time, you will see common traits. In fact, all of us are just a few stressful events away from mental problems. Cumulative stressful events take their toll on everybody unless, of course, we have some understanding of thought processes and can better oxygenate our brain.
In our sophisticated Western world with its emphasis on intelligence and the stigma on mental problems, normal healthy people who go through periods of being down or depressed have few outlets through which to seek help. Addressing this deficit early on is the key to reversing it.
My interest in this area stems from having both asthma and a racing mind for many years. By using the Buteyko Method to reverse my asthma and by improving my awareness, I also addressed my racing mind. Thousands have attended my courses in Ireland and abroad for asthma and other conditions. Those who have attended for panic attacks, depression, stress and anxiety have reported very good feedback; hence, this book.
This book can be read by someone with poor concentration, or a clouded and depressed mind. It contains nothing complicated and through constant repetition, the reader can apply the guidance provided here to his or her own life. The result is lightness and a major lift in mood.
WHAT DETERMINES YOUR HAPPINESS?
thinking is the most unhealthy thing in the world, and people die of it just as they die of any other disease”
Psychologists estimate that we have sixty thousand thoughts each day. Moreover, 95% of these thoughts are repetitive and useless. Not knowing the content of our own mind, we are literally at its mercy and unconsciously follow its instruction to the letter.
The habit of excessive thought and, more importantly, lack of awareness are the results of the inherited human mind. Its individual content is created from our past experiences and from influences from societal, educational and social environments, and is kept alive through repetition.
In the Western world, thinking is viewed as good and not thinking is viewed as a reflection of laziness or dullness. We often hear about the “brilliant thinkers” who make profound discoveries or realisations. Truth be told, eureka moments are made not during thought but during a cessation of thought.
Our educational system teaches us how to think. Through school and university, your mind is developed and moulded into a superb analytical tool. Thinking is seen as the solution to any of life situations. If we have a problem, we believe that the more we think about it the greater the chances of it being solved. As a child, we did not think. Thinking is a learned habit developed over time.
If you feel that it is good to think a lot, take a look at the stress of people in the constant grip and torture of their minds. Often, I pass by a man on shop street in Galway. He is so tormented that he openly voices the contents of his mind in the street. His mind has completely taken him over. He is pressed down with thought. He is depressed.
Many of us are similar to the man on the street, except that we don’t talk out loud. Instead, we have internal mental chatter. We think about the same thing day in and day out, with little resolve or reduction in thinking. Watch your thoughts and you will have no doubt that the Western human mind is truly mad.
Thinking for practical purposes is fine, as it serves a function. However, most of our thinking is not for practical purposes. Most thinking is spent on insane repetitive worry and anxiety.
If you could eliminate your repetitive thought activity by 50%, you would be very happy indeed. If you could eliminate all repetitive and useless thinking, you would live a life of bliss.
Thinking makes you unhappy. Less thought activity makes you happy. Thinking is a disease.
CONTROL YOUR MIND OR ALLOW YOUR MIND TO CONTROL YOU
Human thinking began tens of thousands of years ago. It is the single most important function that differentiates our ability from animals.
Thinking is very useful for practical situations. We need to remember how to drive a car, decide what choice to take, determine a strategy, plan an event, deal with a specific situation. You might want to go to the shop- you think about what foods are not in the cupboard. You organise flights- you think about best dates, price and destination. You write a letter- you think about what you need to say. You go to petrol pumps to fill your car- you decide on what pump, how much money to spend. You contact a supplier- you think about what you need, what quantities, what price and when it will be delivered. Somebody might have overcharged you- you decide on what you are going to say and you say it to them. Thinking when used in this instance for practical purposes is fine. It is necessary and is productive.
However, 95% of our thinking is not used to deal with a practical situation. Most thinking is unnecessary and repetitive. You will realise this as you observe the activity of your mind.
You are walking in a beautiful quiet park and instead of experiencing the sun at the back of your head, the beautiful sight of flowers around you and the wonderful sounds of children at play, your attention is wrapped up giving out about your neighbour who gave you a lecture yesterday, or your boss who was unhappy with your work, or the other driver who blew the horn at you, or that you need to pay your mortgage at the end of the month. This kind of thinking is torture. It does nothing to help your situation. It does nothing to help you. Continuously thinking like this will drive you into depression.
You are not only driving yourself insane, you are missing out on the wonders that life has to offer you.
Thinking for practical situations is useful. Thinking that is repetitive and unnecessary is a hindrance.
QUIETENING THE MIND
Regardless of the extent to which thoughts have taken over, everyone has the capacity to take back control of his or her mind. A still mind is just covered up with mental noise; therefore, anything that helps to de-clutter your mind will allow stillness to resurface.
Your choice is to keep running the thoughts through your head and experience the consequences, or become a good gardener of your mind, root out the weeds and allow only the flowers to grow. A sleeping gardener is not attentive and will soon have a jungle of weeds. A good gardener is awake. He knows exactly what is happening and will guard his territory with a keen eye, removing the weeds as soon as the first shoots appear.
Be a good gardener of your mind. A mind that is being observed is an unsuitable environment for anxiety and depression to take root. Both require a lack of awareness as a suitable breeding ground.
A still mind enables us to relate far better to life and to live life instead of paying attention to useless thinking. No longer is so much of our energy wasted on harmful escapades and we can instead focus with better concentration on what we truly choose.
Although learning how to take back control of our mind is very simple, just like the good gardener, attention is required.
Do you want to live a life free from worry and unhappiness?
The next section lists simple self-help breathing and awareness practises that deal with the physiological and psychological aspects of depression, anxiety and stress.