Meditation for “Me” – and for You

Salon.com's Cary Tennis suggests meditation to a reader whose fears will be familiar to many.

On Monday Salon.com's “Since You Asked…” advice columnist Cary Tennis turned his attention to “Me,” a 38-year-old who describes himself as overwhelmed and in despair: nearly a Ph.D., he's single and lonely, unemployed, feels distant from his parents, and is always comparing himself to others. “I know that to get to new places, you have to lose sight of shore,” he writes. “Can you give me any sort of advice?”

While formulating his response, Tennis offers, he realized that Me's thoughts “sound like the thoughts that swirl around a person who is meditating.” But wait, isn't the stillness of meditation rather different from swirling, anxious thoughts? Yes — as Tennis, who reveals himself to be a meditator, goes on to say: “The difference between a person who is meditating and a person who is beset with anxiety seems to be that the person who is meditating becomes aware of these anxious thoughts and then lets these anxious thoughts go. The person who is meditating continues meditating and after a while goes on with the dishes or the writing or the paying of bills.”

Letting go of anxiety is good advice, and it's at the heart of what mindfulness practice and meditation can do. Once you've read the rest of Tennis's advice to Me, you might want to check out Jack Kornfield's guidance on making mindfulness practice part of your everyday life. See also: Calming Your Anxious Mind: An Interview with Jeff Brantley, M.D.

02/15/11

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