According to the School of Life, which has become my new favorite Youtube Channel, Philosophical Meditation is inspired by Western philosophical methods of coping with anxiety. What we consider to be traditional meditation is an Eastern philosophical practice that emphasizes the removal of oneself from what is causing you distress. It advocates that you remove yourself physically to a quiet and undisturbed location and allow yourself to take on an objective view of what you feel. This is particularly effective if you are in dire need of focus and calm, however the key to Eastern meditation is that you must physically remove yourself from everything. What if there was a way to meditate without removing yourself, closing your eyes, or focusing intensely for several minutes? You’re not gonna believe this, but there is.
Philosophical Meditation is the act of identifying your thoughts and feelings and rationalizing exactly what you fear. Let me tell you, it works wonders. For example, imagine that tomorrow is your first day at a new job. You’re very very anxious and your mind is spinning with what ifs and its driving you mad. Here’s how you use Philosophical Meditation to regulate your anxiety.
1. Identify Exactly What it Is You’re Afraid Of
Do not try to understand why you’re feeling afraid, try to get a grasp of exactly what is causing you to feel afraid. Are you afraid that you’ll get to work late, make a bad impression, make stupid mistakes, or end up hating the job? Identify exactly what is causing you grief and write them out on a notepad.
2. Begin to Rationalize Your Fears and Make a Plan
Here is where you tackle your fears head on. Show no mercy. Take a second to write out exactly why these fears are overblown or irrational then make a plan of action. If you’re worried about being late, write down your plan to avoid being late plan your route carefully and set your alarm to wake you up a little earlier. Ask yourself, “What if I’m late anyways? What happens then?” Then you can begin to rationalize your thoughts by saying something along the lines of, “Well, I have a contact that I can email/call if something goes awry, and people probably understand that I don’t really understand the best routes to get there yet. It’s only the first day, they expect you to mess up.”
The key to Philosophical Meditation is to force that grey area of unaddressed improbabilities into the spotlight, and to break them down using rationality and logic. I can’t tell you how many times this has helped me cope with my ridiculously severe anxiety. I find that my fears do not stand up to much scrutiny when in the lime light. It simply doesn’t take much for our insecurities to fall apart. In part, this may be because our emotions protect these fears to a great extent. Your emotions act as a kind of barrier to deter you from delving into what you fear simply because you fear them. If you deny your feelings influence over you for a moment and just get to the core of what you are afraid of, you will begin to see some real improvements. If you find yourself growing anxious again, return to your notepad and read what you fear and your rationalizations of your fears. I doesn’t matter how many times you have to remind yourself, just do what it takes to manage your anxiety.
You can watch the School of Life video about Philosophical Mediation here.