“Stop thinking, and end your problems.” ~ Lao Tzu
This may be the best piece of advice I’ve ever stumbled upon.
It’s true, we invent many of our problems in our mind. I’m not sure it’s possible to consistently transcend all external problems, but we can certainly make them seem worse than they really are. It depends on the story we tell ourselves.
What we think about and what we tell ourselves determines how we feel and how we interact with the world. And what we dwell on is what we will believe, even if it’s totally false.
Our thoughts also affect our physical health. The body responds to thoughts the same way it does to actions. The same hormonal reactions occur.
This is what makes breathing so important. By focusing on our breathing, we stop thinking about the things that aggravate us and the false narratives we create. By doing this, our attention is reverted back to the present moment. It also helps in reversing the negative physical affects of our thoughts.
This can also be combined with prayer. Breathing in, you can say to yourself “God be with me,” breathing out “I give it all to you.” In this way, meditation and prayer can work together. There’s a fine line between them.