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Finding peace through mindful awareness

How to find relief from the voices in your head

For all the countless benefits our minds provide us, its important to recognize the often painful impact our thoughts can have on us too. These rabbit holes of thought can take our heads to dark places and perpetuate the harmful ideas that pass through our mind. These are the thoughts that bring anxiety and fear through our daily lives, conforming to narratives that our minds have deemed true whether or not they actually are. These are the types of narratives many choose to see the world in, the telling themselves "I'm worthless" or "Everyone else is out to get me" because its easier than the more ambiguous nature of life. These however are the exact types of voices that must be conquered through mental awareness to remind themselves what is actually occurring outside of their skewed perspective

As I've continued my gradual explorations of mindfulness meditation one of the most important parts of the process is not trying to block out or hide from the world, but identify the things that distract you. Recognize the dog barking outside of your window or that itchy pair of socks you're wearing as what they are. The more you try to force yourself to ignore what's occurring, the harder it is to quiet your mind down long enough to find peace. Recognition is the only way to accept things without allowing them to take control of your search for peace. The more your mind is trained to be aware of its surroundings, the harder it will be for it to try to pass your fears off as reality.

While its important to recognize that just being aware likely does not solve the underlying anxieties and issues that can lead to harmful thought processes, it does limit its ability to control you. Humans feel so much loneliness, fear, and anger that we choose to funnel it towards whatever's around us, but the origins of them rarely live up to the dramatic inventions we devise in our heads. The author and Buddhist scholar Jack Kornfield, speaks of the need to not take our thoughts too seriously, writing "You can step back and listen to your thoughts mindfully and then decide whether they're useful or not. It's true that you still need some thoughts to plan for the future and to problem-solve, but you could eliminate 90 percent of your thoughts and still have plenty to do the job."

Despite the frequency to which we place ourselves in vices of fear, the answer to quiet them is already within your grasp. If you open your eyes to these unpleasant moments you can soon recognize and tell yourself, "This isn't real. This is worry." Letting go of these illusions may not be easy as you force yourself to grapple with an uncertain world devoid of an overarching narrative, but harnessing your awareness opens your eyes to everything you couldn't recognize before.

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