How To Stop The Mind From Having Thoughts Of Impending Doom.

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.

Tennis Balls.

28940194_75.jpg “Why don’t you go hit some tennis balls,” my father said to me in response to all the stress I have been under. I had not played tennis in years and the idea of hitting a tennis ball sounded appealing. “Go to the club and hit against the backboard, or hit with the tennis pro if you want, I’ll pay for it,” my father said. I decided to take him up on his suggestion, and dressed in some old sweat pants and a brown Jimmy Hendrix t-shirt, borrowed my wife’s tennis racket and went off to play tennis.

It had been years since I had played against this back board. As a kid I was here almost every day. I felt tight and stiff. I have grown older than my years (36) and my body was unhappy about being forced into these strange postures. However, after a few minutes of warming up and stretching- my game came back to me. I hit the tennis ball just like the pro I used to be. My backhand was a little rusty but my forehand stroke was still in top condition. I bent my knees and released all of my stress with each swing. The sun warmed my body as I slowly began to forget about all my worries and just concentrated upon hitting the tennis ball.

I was unpleasantly greeted by a middle aged man in a Nike sweat suit wearing a yellow Nike hat upon his head. He looked very serious. “Excuse me,” he said with an official intonation in his voice- “Are you a member of this tennis club?” My first inclination was to be offended. I had grown up playing tennis on these courts and was here long before he had ever come around. This was my turf. I took a deep breath and said “yes, in fact I am.” “May I have your club number,”he said. “Why do you ask,” I said with some hint of animosity in my voice. “Because I have never seen you around before, and quite frankly you do not look like the average club member,” he said implying that this was a prestigious tennis club and I did not look like one who had any money in the bank. “Since I am the tennis pro here at Round Hill Country Club, it is my duty to keep these courts safe.” I felt the anger rise up in my body which was covered in a noon time sweat. Just because I had long hair, a beard and was not wearing the appropriate tennis gear certainly did not make me a threat. Granted I LOOKED OUT OF PLACE, BUT HIS ACCUSATION THAT I MAY BE SOME KIND OF THREAT WAS SIMPLY OFFENSIVE.

After a few minutes of struggle and argument he threatened to kick me off the court if I did not give some proof of my identity or club number. “How dare you question my legitimacy,” I continued on, “you have no idea the implications of your mis- judgment. You are profiling me!!” “Just give me your club number sir,” he said with a hint of legality in his voice. I told him I did not know my club number (my father would not give me the number because he was afraid that I would use it to buy booze and food at the country club bar) but I gave him my last name.

He stopped to think for a moment and then he asked me what my mothers name was. When I told him his whole demeanor changed, as if a light had gone off in his head. I went from being a potential terrorist to the son of a club member. He apologized for his interrogation of me but said again that it was his job to make sure these courts were safe. He then asked me if my name was Randall. When I told him it was he said, “your mother always talks about you and tells me what a great tennis player you are.” “Oh,” I said without interest- wanting him to just go away so I could resume my game with the back board. There was a moment of awkward silence between us and then he said to me before leaving, “can I offer you a complementary can of new tennis balls as an apology?” Of course I said- “don’t worry about it.”

The End.