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It’s no accident that people do lots of their worrying while tossing and turning in bed, unable to go to sleep, ruminating over some matter as they lie awake, staring into the darkness. In our modern world the time before sleep is one of the last reprieves from the endless diversions and distractions that keep our minds occupied.

But the fact that worries start popping up the moment you give yourself a break from the countless daily distractions should be a huge warning bell that the source of this worry needs to be attended to.

A Buddhist monk would say that worry is a result of a lack of mindfulness. If you are fully present in the here and now your thoughts and emotions will not center on a future possibility or a past instance. From a mindfulness perspective the only time to be worried is if there is an immediate threat, making emotions of fear and anxiety the correct ones for the concrete situation.

The problem is that most of us are not very good at being mindful in our lives, so we don’t attend to situations that end up causing us to worry as they snowball. We put them put on the back burner in favor of all the other daily demands until they finally force themselves into our conscious thought, refusing to be ignored any longer.

The mindful answer is to assess the level of immediate threat to your physical and emotional Self. Your worries are telling you something very important, but the question is whether you can act while lying in bed at night or otherwise removed from the source of your worry. If there is nothing you can do at that moment to change the situation and the immediate threat is very low, the mindful solution is to make a firm plan to deal with the problem as soon as possible and then come back to your breathing, focusing on the present, not letting your mind wander from the here and now. Worries cannot infect your immediate situation unless you allow your mind to drift to the past or the future. If there is nothing you can do in the present to influence a past or future action and there is not an immediate threat, there is no reason to be worried. Give yourself permission to put the feeling on hold until the situation that is creating it becomes your present.