Stop Letting Your Imagination Run Away With You and Cut Down On Tension and Stress...

in mindfulmonday •  2 months ago 

I recently came across the works of a prominent Roman, Stoic philosopher, Seneca, specifically his "Letters from a Stoic", written towards the end of his life from approximately 63 AD to 65 AD.
I found it contained some very practical advise which could be applicable to modern times. You see these were letters written to his friend Lucilius, an Ancient Roman official, advising him how to become a better Stoic.

For today I want to look at Seneca's letter “On groundless fears...”
Letters from a Stoic  Seneca more things frighten us then crush us.jpg

Listen in to that complete letter below...

Letters from a Stoic - Seneca's 13th letter - “On groundless fears...”

A quote from that letter

There are more things … likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.

Basically he was cautioning his friend against the common human habit of imagining all these terrible disasters which keep us constantly tensed up and will actually prevent us from living more fully!

Think about it - How many times have you created a senerio in your head where things are going to be awful?
How much energy have you put into worrying about it only to have it not turn out like that at all?
Often the mental pain or anguish we suffer is greater than the physical pain.
Take for instance a misquito buzzing around your head can drive you crazy but the actual pain you feel from it's bite is minuscule.
Or if you have tried doing a Dahtauna meditation sitting, where you vow to sit for a certain period of time without moving and an ant or something crawls up and onto your face. All sorts of things will be going through your mind, like it might bite you or go up your nose. You feel mental anguish at this but in actuality all the physical sensation of an ant you feel walking across your face is slight tingle of it's footprints, nothing painful at all!

These are just examples showing that it is just your imagination that is causing the pain, where the actual physical pain is almost nonexistent.

Oh the power of our mind!

Or what about when we push things aside thinking they are too hard and how hard it is seems to grow in our mind.
Then when you finally dive into doing it or you break it into smaller more manageable parts you realize it wasn't that hard after all!

Often this behavior develops into habits which seems to be part of our human conditioning but what if you could recognize that it is all in your mind and you could pull yourself back into a more realistic view, put your energy towards something more productive than worrying, for worrying really doesn't do anything!

Or if you could recognize that it is your imagination and you could tune in more and focus that imagination in a more positive direction that is more in the now, experiencing what is happening at the present moment. Then once you have acknowledged your concerns, let it be at that and not build it into anything more than it is.

This type of behavior, letting our imagination run away with us and building things into something they are not, squanders our mental and emotional energies. So be more fully alive in the present moment and drop that misplaced worry that tends to keep you tense and stressed.

Seneca ended his letter on groundless fears with a quote from Epicurus:

The fool, with all his other faults, has this also, he is always getting ready to live.

And as Eckart Tolle would say -

Be Here NOW!
Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.

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It may be Tuesday already, but your Monday post is yet again spot on for me! This lesson really hits home, as I know I am one of the many people who tends to let fear hold me back from things in life. I definitely need to work more on redirecting those anxiety-ridden thoughts, as you are so right the thoughts are usually much worse than the experience ever is. I feel like I get better at this as I get older and gain more confidence in my own skills and abilities, but could still stand to improve greatly in this area. Thank you as always for sharing!

we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.

This is so true. Most of our pain comes from the anguish of our imagines "realities". Our mind has the capacity to magnify problems and anticipate disasters in ways I wish it could make us create marvels. Some will argue it can. I'd say not with the same efficiency and power.

With the daily mayhem around us one needs to overcome by being very positive, imagining a better place in the mind, memories sometimes help overcome the horrors of imagination on what could go wrong @porters

Coincidentally, my veterinarian and I were talking about how stoic my senior dog is, and it had me thinking about the word - stoic.. I had not gotten around to researching it yet, and I think you gave me a good lead here! 😊

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Good to see the wisdom of the ancients @porters, many thanks. Stoicism is a great solution to the inevitable problems of life from our minds, other people, or the elements of nature.

And even philosophy in the end must bow before wisdom


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Oh my gosh, that's kinda what I've been thinking this week. Love how you use the words of Seneca to frame your thinking. As for ants, sure - dont let spiders crawl on me though, my mind will never cut through that fear. My girlfriend, after 20 years of vipassana, makes me rid my guestroom bus of spiders before she arrives. I tease her about the quality of her practice, haha.

I enjoy reading about stoicism; especially how Marcus Aurelius interpreted it.

Nice post.

Namaste, JaiChai

We touched on Seneca in our studies and the mind is indeed a most powerful tool. Depending on what one feeds it though. Reality is so different from what one imagines it to be and anxieties are sure triggers for most of our woes.
To live in the moment is simply to be.

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Good words of wisdom, @porters. Our mind can take us to some dark places if we let it.

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Our minds are powerful in many oddly different ways and often enough doesn't do us favors. It's good to remember that we don't have to remain trapped in our minds as it fools us into tricky thoughts.

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Good point - not to let our minds run the show!