“Vicious cycle of persistent thoughts”

Kathleen Norris’s book “Acedia & me”contains this fascinating sentence, “The goal of ancient and contemporary methods alike [to attack depression and sadness ] is to break the vicious cycle of persistent thoughts” [p. 151]. She is writing a chapter on the usefulness of meditation to disrupt unhealthy thought patterns.

I have meditated on and off since I was 20. I’m in an off-cycle now, and it’s a shame. It’s like being in a period where you are out of shape. You remember what it felt like to take care of yourself, and you wonder when you will get back to it. The restorative power of meditation is that strong. It takes you out of the patterns your own mind uses to make you feel bad.

Norris notes that persistent thoughts–which are usually negative–likely harm you if they aren’t disrupted. I was great at that today. I just couldn’t stay serious, even when my boss looked stressed and frustrated, and I was worried about her. It is getting easier to remember to find something to laugh or smile at or to think of some worthy goal.

Today that was working for me. No bad thought stuck around too long. One of my friends finished a huge project, which her entire department pulled together to do with precision and excellence. It has been a long road for them, almost two months, and they are relieved it’s over and thrilled that everyone thinks they have done so well. I couldn’t stay worried long. There was too much to celebrate.