Your Problem: Click on each link or scroll down to see answers.
7. Losing It
1. Stress (Related words to look up in this dictionary: "Breath," "Calming Meditation," "Problems," "Pain," and "Psychology.")
(A) Breathe. Sometimes your best meditation is, simply, to spend some time breathing. Here is how to breathe deeply and productively for meditation:
(B) Exercise. Go for a walk. Go for a run. Do calisthenics. If it helps you, combine physical exercises with breathing exercises.
(C) Don't count on drugs. Avoid caffeine. Avoid sugar. Avoid all but very small amounts of fruit juice. Avoid drugs that speed up your heart. Do not count on alcohol or drugs to resolve your stress in the long run, as their affects are very temporary. (However, if a doctor has prescribed a drug for stress, you should try it.) You also can discover what teas, over-the-counter supplements, and natural foods might be available to you to help reduce stress.
(D) Do a relaxation meditation.
(E) Stop thinking so much. See "3" below.
(F) Stop or slow down emotion. Stop being a physical host for, or attaching yourself to, a lot of emotion. See "2" below.
(G) Change your lifestyle at least a little. Get away for part of each day from anything that stresses you. Pursue more activities, events, and people in life that relax you. You may or may not need to make the changes permanent, or perhaps only some of the changes. Each of us go through life cycles in which we may be able to handle stress less easily, or more easily. And you may not need to change a lot, just a little, at least to start.
(A) Identify the trigger. What "triggers" or starts your emotional problems on any given day? Is it a thought? A memory? The sight of something? A physical feeling? The presence of a person? A detail of your job? Habit?
(B) Separate the thought from the physical feeling. Emotions are, by definition, a mix of physical feelings and mental thoughts/memories. In troubling emotions, the physical feeling usually is negative, and the mental part of it may be current thoughts, old memories, or a mix. First, identify when the emotion starts; second, step back from it and watch how it evolves or develops in you. Third, continue watching it without adding more fuel to its fire by getting caught up in it. For help with this type of awareness, see "The Flow Meditation" under "F" in this dictionary.
(C) Get away from the trigger. Can you simply stop going to, hearing, or seeing the external trigger? For example, if it starts as soon as you wake up, try wearing a sleep mask or ear plugs to bed,
(D) Read the stress-reducing list in "1" above. One or more of those suggestions may help you.
(E) Dive into the physical feeling or the thought. Most
psychologists say that if you confront, "stare down," or watch the feeling or
the thought of a negative emotion long enough or often enough, it will lose its
power over you. In order to do this, you should not avoid it, nor should you let
it take you over. Instead, simply become the watcher, watching it happen. You
can even tap some part of your body to remind yourself to not get caught up in
The emotion may go away for a few hours, days, or weeks, but come back again unexpectedly. If so, take up your watchful meditation again. Often, negative emotions are cyclical: disassembled for a time, but coming back at other times of stress or with external reminders.
Developing your dive into your emotion and separating yourself from it as the watcher is a special meditation technique. To learn more about it, see "The Flow Meditation" under "F" in this dictionary.
(F) If your problem is, in part, your inability to control your thoughts, see "3" below.
(G) Get help. If your emotional problem is too much for you to handle alone, or you want a faster solution, find help. Find a person you can trust to not tell others about your problems, and not add to your problems. This might be a trusted person near you, or it might be a professional such as a counselor, psychologist, or spiritual leader, paid or unpaid. Sometimes even just one to three sessions can help. In addition, some people find help by keeping a private journal.
There are several ways to control thoughts. For all of these, taking several deep breaths before you start often helps:
Often, having difficulty falling asleep, even when you are tired, shows other a tendency to worry too much, to be overstressed, or to have some kind of imbalance in your eating. Exercising for 20-30 minutes, even if it is just a pleasant walk, is recommended by many experts.
Also highly recommended is avoiding caffeine and other drugs that may speed up your metabolism, avoiding screen time in front of your electronic device for several hours before you sleep, and engaging in activities that are highly stressful (like watching political TV shows before sleeping). Eating lightly or not at all for several hours before sleep also can be helpful, so as not to cause distention in your stomach and bowels.
Sleep experts also suggest, often, that if you can't fall asleep after half an hour of trying, then you should get up and do something gently active such as reading, gentle exercise, household chores, etc., then trying again to sleep after half an hour to an hour.
In addition, there are several meditation methods you can use to encourage sleep. (Some of these also appear in other answers, above or below.)
(A) Do a relaxation meditation:
(B) Breathe: Spend some time breathing.
Finally, check out some of the recommendations for other problems on this page.
Is something psychological or mental bothering you that seems to come from outside of you? You may or may not believe in spirits, bad karma from others rubbing off on you, or someone outside of you thinking too much or too negatively about you. However, either way, sometimes you may simply feel like something alien to your normal way of thinking and feeling is bothering you. Many such experiences feel, or may appear inwardly as if, they come from outside sources. So, let's examine these in a practical way, not worrying about their actual source.
Try meditating to identify exactly what is going on. First, most psychologists say that if something internal in your psyche or soul is bothering you, one of the best ways to handle it is to look it square in the face, identify it, and yet keep your own awareness on a separate level. In other words, see it, hear it, or feel it, but don't let it trigger additional reactive thoughts, feeling, or emotions in you. Simply watch it but keep separate from it. Often this may be enough. It may take several meditation sessions or even several months or more, but a good sign that it is losing its power over you is that it slowly becomes less intense and meddlesome.
Second, you may be able, in meditation, to see it coming and reject it before it comes into your full awareness. Typically, in quieter meditation states, the mind works in such a way that you may be able to "see"–whether symbolically or in reality–an object around the edges of your awareness or just outside your body. Typically, you may see it as a seed or kernel, an insect, a cloud, a mass of swirling strings or fog, or some other object or mass by which your mind identifies it.
Third, note carefully: if you concentrate on this object that seems external to your sphere of self, at that point it may "come into" you. That is, the next thing you are aware of–after concentrating on it when it is outside of you–is a sudden unwanted thought or feeling in your mind or body. Often, the darker, bigger, more dense, or more active the object you see on the outside of you, the more physical, dense, or difficult the thought or feeling once it is inside you.
Fourth, for this reason, it is better to banish, to get rid of, the object before it enters into your mind or body. In meditation, you can do this by pushing it away. You may push it away with some action that you imagine, or even use your arms and hands to do so.
Fifth, another way to banish the object is to imagine that you have a pure sphere of glass or of a color you like around your head or body. Then you use this sphere to keep the object out.
Sixth, a method of getting rid of it–whether it is still outside of you or has entered and blossomed into a thought or feeling in you, or is simply already there, planted in you–is what is called the "No" meditation. The "No" meditation is simple: After getting into a comfortable posture, taking a few breaths, and relaxing, you then simply say "No" to the thought or feeling every time it tries to enter your awareness. If it is insistent, you become insistent, too, saying "No, no, no" as often, as rapidly, and as strongly as you need to. You may even do this out loud, even shout at it out loud or within your head. Some people even physically push at it as they say "No."
If the thought or feeling is strongly rooted in you, or has been there a long time, you may have to do the "No" meditation often and perhaps for weeks or more at a time. Success can be measured in whether you gradually can banish the thought or feeling more easily. It may come back in cycles when you are thinking or experiencing something related to it. And you may need to practice "mini-meditations" of a few seconds or minutes in the middle of working, playing, or being entertained, repeating the "No" in your mind as you deal with the negative thought or feeling. However, if the "No" meditation is working, on average in any given week or two, you ought to have improved success.
To conclude, as with all problems, there are eternal methods of helping yourself, too. They may include getting regular exercise, eating healthfully, and learning to breath deeply with both your chest and your stomach more often. And when it comes to trying to banish negative thoughts and feelings, even immediate exercise, whether walking or something much more vigorous, is surprisingly helpful to some. If all of these fail, you should get professional help from a therapist.
First, if you are in great pain or continuing moderate pain, see a professional. Usually you should start with a doctor.
If you are in mild pain or if you are already seeing a doctor for moderate to severe pain, then you also might want to try meditation. Meditation sometimes can help alleviate or lessen physical pain. Occasionally meditation can have immediate affects. However, if you are in pain and it will not go away, first try the recommendations in "1. Stress" above. Also try exercise, changes in diet, or changes in drug intake, depending on the type of pain. See also "Pain" under "P" in this dictionary.
If none of the above helps in a permanent way, then see a professional. Often, if meditation is used, professional help also is useful. Consider not just a doctor, but also, or instead, a chiropractor, registered therapeutic masseuse or masseur, an acupuncturist, or some other registered health professional. For physical pain, especially, a variety of approaches works best used simultaneously.
One way to help relieve pain is a relaxation meditation. Here is one from above, with a few pain-related helps added:
"Losing it" can mean several things. Perhaps you suddenly yell at someone, break down crying, become completely frozen and unable to move, feel sudden and overwhelming panic, or otherwise have a complete, very sudden, unexpected, and unwanted negative experience that is unlike how you normally are.
Often such experiences come from a buildup, slow or sudden, of stress, in which case you may be able to avoid future occurrences by using the directions above in "1. Stress." Or you might find yourself suddenly "invaded" by a feeling or actions completely alien to you, normally. If this is the case, you may be able to avoid such events in the future by following the directions above in "5. Bad Spirits."
However, if it is happening to you in the present, the most important act is to stop it. Here are several ways to do so: