Maybe I am alone in this one, but does anyone ever feel as if their mind is playing tricks upon them? Do thoughts: negative thoughts, bleak thoughts, horrifying thoughts, terrorizing thoughts- ever enter your mind without your permission? Do they cause you to shake and tremble at times- as if the end is all to near? Do these thoughts keep you awake at night, force you to drink and keep you confined to your house on certain days? Do the thoughts prevent you from traveling, loving and experiencing joy? I could go on and on but for the sake of my own anxiety I will stop here. I will stop here because I have pointed out enough symptoms of intrusive or unwanted thoughts of impending doom.
I once knew a devout Buddhist who told me that thoughts of impending doom should be welcome to one. We should be open to them and celebrate them because they give us an understanding of our mortality, which in return allows understanding the impermanence of all phenomena. Train the mind he said- and you will be free. Years later, I have trained the mind with therapy and meditation but to little result. Thoughts of impending doom grab me in the moments that I am least prepared and send me into a mystical flight of fear that I am convinced (in the moment) I will not survive. If I have these thoughts while on a bridge- I will avoid the bridge- if I have these thoughts while in bed I will sleep on the floor. If I have thoughts of impending doom while on a walk, I will try to avoid walking. It seems as if I am becoming more knowledgeable about avoiding my life than I am about living it.
I have had thoughts of impending doom for many years now and I thought that by now I would have the answers about how to control these antagonists or even better- abolish them from the mind. But I am no where closer today than I was five years ago in understanding how to live free of such anxiety provocations. I have learned to accept my fate as a man whose mind plays tricks upon him without any concern for his wellbeing. I have come to see my mind as a mass of tissue that is committed to destroying my bodies tranquility. Just today while I was on a walk in a cemetery I suffered a sudden burst of negative thoughts that sent me to the ground where I tried to gain control of my self. I was convinced that I would die and I muttered a few words of a prayer. The thoughts passed and I returned home to do some research on the web about how to stop the mind from having thoughts of impending doom.
I came upon an essay by Martin Luther King. It was an essay about overcoming fear and it talked about courage as the only way to overcome fear. Martin talked at great length about the courage to face death as if it was upon us now. I thought about this idea of courage as being a possible palliative against the thoughts of impending doom. After all- it takes courage to suffer the fate of a silent fury that has no desire to let you be. It takes courage to stand up to your doomish thoughts and convince yourself during your darkest hour that every thing is okay- maybe. I wonder if when Martin was dying from a bullet wound he felt fear? Or maybe he was courageous in the face of death- and rather than holding on to this thing called life he was able to let go, with courage.
And this friend’s maybe the answer. Let go. Accept your fate with courage and with each thought of impending doom- let it go. Now I have never been able to do this and I would be a hypocrite if I said I could. I can’t and I won’t. Letting go is something I seem incapable of doing because I am a Jewish (Jews have a notably hard time letting go. Why this is I am uncertain). When I feel death to be near my knees rattle and I loose control of utilizing any of the wisdom that I have gained from reading, workshops or therapy. I become terrified; because I do not want to die, and I hold on with the force of a man that is unwilling to let it all go. And I wonder is this my main problem? The root of my chronic thoughts of impending doom? “ It is only in courage that the man/woman who stands rooted in fear can be free,” Martin said. “And freedom is only the ability to walk through your fear.” Maybe I’ll just avoid walking for a while.