Listening to Matin L. Rossman, MD’s talk, “How Your Brain Can Turn Anxiety into Calmness” on University of California Television (UCTV) and delighting in a scientifically based argument against worrying.

One teacher told me early on, “Worrying is a useless activity; don’t let your mind go there, you will be wasting precious energy.”  In theory I agree, and I do find myself worrying.  In his superb lecture, Dr. Rossman asks us to make a list and divide our worries into 3 categories:  ‘Things I can change’, ‘Things I am not sure I can change’, ‘Things I can not change’.  Do this now.  For instance, I can change my lifestyle choices;  I can change my attitude.  I may be able to change…  I cannot change the past.

Rossman makes the point that by “turning worry around into a positive visualization” we can reduce our own stress.  He suggests, we ask ourself the question, “If it were up to me…”  Create an imagine of the outcome you desire.  Reinforce this image whenever you begin to worry.  Turn the negative outcome, that which you feel you have little or no control over, around.  Rossman suggests saying to yourself, “This is where I am going to put my energy.”  The redirection of our thoughts takes practice.  Try this and notice how you feel.  BirdsofPardise

He uses an example of an expert skier at the top of a run.  This skier assesses the run, noticing the obstacles on the run.  If the skier where to keep looking at the obstacle, the large rock on the side, he would surely ski into the obstacle.  If rather he puts his attention on where he wants to go, he will successfully ski the line of the run.  Focusing our attention on the positive outcome, is his suggestion.

This does take practice; it takes imagination.  Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.  For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”  He also said, “Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.”

When I was taking riding lessons and learning how to jump, I was told, “Always look beyond the jumping bar to where you want the horse to go.  If you  look at the bar, the horse will interpret this as you wanting him to stop at the jump.”  I found that fascinating and wonderful at the same time.  Move beyond fear and worry.  Put your eyes on your target.

PauseAnother expert,  David Steindl-Rast, in his TED talk entitled, “Want to be happy? Be grateful”, suggests we “STOP”-“LOOK”  and “LISTEN” to cultivate an appreciation of our life, to cultivate gratitude.  His premise is that gratitude makes us happy.  When we stop, look and listen, we tune-in to the moment: the birds flying by, the waxing moon in the sky, notice…so many details of our lives.  We know that good hormones circulate in our system in response to feelings of gratitude.  Youth enhancing hormones circulate.  I would shift this command to “PAUSE”, “LOOK and LISTEN”.  As the Breath Diva says,  “In this moment I can fully inhale, fully receive life force, vitality and pure energy!”

He goes on to say, “Opportunity is the gift within every gift.  Every moment is a gift!  This is the key to happiness.   We hold the key to our happiness in our own hand.”  Fear and gratitude cannot exist in the same place in our mind.  By pausing, looking and listening we have an opportunity to be present.    As the Breath Diva says, “In this moment I can fully exhale, fully release tension, fatigue and fear.”  His invitation is to be in the present moment through our senses, instead of being ‘in our heads”.  Using our senses to listen, to see, to taste, to cherish the present moment.

Serendipitously, Sunday after working on this blog, I walked by the placard pictured on the left.  If you read it you will notice how perfectly it fits here.

real face.2Whispers of the Breath Diva:

In this moment I can be fully Present.