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Forums / Anxiety / I've developed a horrible intrusive thought relating to endless suffering, and I feel like it's ruining my life.

Topic: I've developed a horrible intrusive thought relating to endless suffering, and I feel like it's ruining my life.

26 posts, 0 answered
  1. Butterfly26
    Butterfly26 avatar
    11 posts
    11 May 2022

    Hello everyone, I'm new here. I've been trying to recover from my latest bout of depression, but there's a recurring scary thought that keeps me down and makes me feel like I'll never feel joy again. Maybe getting it off my chest will help me at least a bit.

    First I'll give some background on my situation. I've suffered from anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember, and I've been finding it extremely hard to move forward in life and be independent. A year ago I had a huge mental breakdown from a long period of stress, sad events, fear and hopelessness and I was basically living in a perpetual panic attack for days on end. It was the first time I've experienced panic attacks and they hit me like a truck.

    A few days in, the suffering inspired a really scary thought. I was calming myself down from an attack with the thought that at least this horror can't last forever, for anybody, but of course my overactive brain thought up a concept where suffering can happen forever, and it will happen in the far future, or is already happening "somewhere". It got really weird and science-fictiony and told me I can never recover now that I know that. I couldn't do anything to shut the thought down, it's like the thought made itself impossible to argue with. So that thought alone created many more days of constant panic attacks and what seemed like severe existential OCD. At my worst I felt like I was barely even on Earth anymore and I really thought I was going to end up insane or die.

    To my surprise I ended up recovering (I had a few therapy sessions and medication for a while but I'm not sure to what extent that helped) I think from exhaustion and somehow convincing myself that the very fact that this thought is so ridiculously painful and unrelenting says more about my anxiety than actual "reality."

    But even so, that thought stayed with me, always in the background but quieter and easier to shake off. Then I had another long bout of stress this year and my mood tanked, and I started thinking about it too much and obsessing over it again. Now I'm depressed about how my brain can't shut it down completely and finally give me peace. I feel like all I'm doing is living a lie when I feel "ok".

    I don't know how there are people who truly believe this kind of thing (hell) and are mentally fine with it? I can't live with the knowledge of so much endless suffering. Does anyone have any kind of advice for me?


  2. Mark Z.
    Multicultural Correspondent
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    195 posts
    11 May 2022 in reply to Butterfly26

    Hi Butterfly,

    Welcome to the forum, and thank you for describing your story in details. I can't imagine how hard it is for you.

    I've experienced some mental health challenge, what my psychologist taught me was, I need to learn to separate my mental illness from myself. I was my illness, not myself. I learnt that I can't shut down my mind, it's not how it works, instead, I monitor my mental illness, accept it, live with it, and become less and less afraid of it. This way the 'devil' gets weaker and weaker. Hope it works for you too.

    And as your therapy sessions and medication worked for you, will you considering coming back to your psychologist or doctor, updating your latest status, and keep checking up with them?

    Hope you get better soon.

    Mark

    1 person found this helpful
  3. Petal22
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    11 May 2022 in reply to Butterfly26

    Hi Butterfly26,

    Wellcome to our forums.

    Im so sorry you are experiencing this I understand it’s really hard.

    I understand intrusive thoughts are really hard to deal with.

    I have a lived experience of severe anxiety OCD this condition was very debilitating while I was in the grips of it, it was unrelenting and I felt as though I was living my worst nightmare ( it felt like an internal hell for me).

    I have been recovered from this condition for four and a half years….. Im now living my best life in the light…..

    My recovery started from seeing a gp through to a psychiatrist who diagnosed me and I also did a 8 week therapy at a OCD clinic this clinic gave me all of the tools and strategies I needed to learn to break free of the grips of OCD.

    Im now free!

    I understand at times of stress this can raise its head, it happened to me twice in my life both at stressful times.

    Through my therapy I learned meditation through doing this meditation I learned that I’m not my thoughts, I am the watcher of my thoughts.

    Our minds will always think…. That’s the minds job but when you learn that your not your mind but the observer of it…… it’s a real game changer.

    Please seek professional help you could start at your gp and do a mental health plan together.

    hang in there

    Im always here to chat.

    1 person found this helpful
  4. Sophie_M
    Community Moderator
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    11 May 2022 in reply to Butterfly26
    Dear Butterfly26   Firstly, welcome to the forums we are so glad that you found your way to this supportive and welcoming community.   We’re sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling with these recurring thoughts, we're know they would be exhausting.   It can make a real difference having someone to talk to, so we’d like to invite you to call our wonderful counsellors on 1300 22 4636, or jump onto a webchat here: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/ Our counsellors are available 24/7 to provide care and support.   Thank you again for sharing with our wonderful community members.   Warm regards   Sophie M
    1 person found this helpful
  5. Butterfly26
    Butterfly26 avatar
    11 posts
    12 May 2022

    Thank you everyone for your replies, I really appreciate it. I get some relief from the thought that people have also been through nightmarish times but got through them. I'm trying to convince myself that this thought is just some kind of OCD, which I never considered myself having until recently. But I know it won't be easy to deal with just because of the nature of it. (It's such a weird futuristic fear that I can't even logic my way out of it).

    I'm planning on seeing my GP again to speak to a psychologist about it, and to also talk about how I can manage stressful times without it plunging me into such a dark place.

    2 people found this helpful
  6. Petal22
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    12 May 2022 in reply to Butterfly26

    Hi Butterfly26,

    Thank you for you reply and we are happy to support you, you are never alone.

    You really can get through this………… my mental health condition of OCD felt like a marathon but it’s a marathon I won. Never loose hope even on the hard days because hope is what will keep you moving forward.

    It took perseverance to master my OCD but it was well worth it.

    Through the therapy I did I learned how to challenge my thoughts which was useful. I also learned what my OCD cycle was and then how to disengage from it.

    When you have the intrusive thoughts try to redirect your attention onto something in the present moment.

    I think seeing your gp and seeing a psychologist is a great idea.

    A clinical psychologist can diagnose but a normal psychologist can’t….. if you are wanting a diagnosis maybe see a clinical psychologist.

    Always here to chat to you….. hang in there.

    1 person found this helpful
  7. Butterfly26
    Butterfly26 avatar
    11 posts
    12 May 2022 in reply to Petal22

    Thank you :)

    I didn't even know there was a difference between a normal and clinical psychologist. I guess I should try and see one of those.

    I have a question though, last time I saw a psychologist I got given a certain amount of very discounted sessions a year (I can't remember how many) but I can't remember if that was because of my Health Care card or my Medicare card. I no longer have the Health Care card, so will I have to pay full price for each session?

    And does that discount even apply for a "clinical" psychologist?

    Thanks again for all your help.

  8. jonjr
    jonjr avatar
    39 posts
    13 May 2022 in reply to Butterfly26

    Hi Butterfly26

    Medicare will cover you up to 20 sessions per year in extreme cases and up to 10 if not clinically diagnosed. i believe thats right but don't quote me. it will cover up to 80 to 100 percent depending on the physiologist. i myself have a physiologist and a Psychiatrist and i have to pay for them long story but with medicare i know you get huge benifits

    1 person found this helpful
  9. Petal22
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    13 May 2022 in reply to Butterfly26

    Hi Butterfly26,

    A clinical phycologist has different training to a normal phycologist.

    When I saw a clinical phycologist I had 10 free sessions because I did a mental health plan with my GP, it was all covered under medicare, my psychiatrist appointments where also free. ( My Clinical Psychiatrist and Psychiatrist worked at the same practice).

    I was diagnosed with OCD by my Psychiatrist.

    If it is OCD that you have I just wanted to let you know that I believe that this condition is a specialized condition and we need to see the correct health professionals who know how treat it.

    When I did my therapy I went to a clinic that specialized in OCD, at this clinic they knew exactly what it was and how to treat it.

    Please remember OCD is very treatable and you really can recover from it, I'm living proof of this.

    Hold onto hope.

    How have you been feeling?

    I'm always here to chat to you, and I understand.

    1 person found this helpful
  10. Butterfly26
    Butterfly26 avatar
    11 posts
    13 May 2022 in reply to Petal22

    Thanks for the info Petal 22. I'll ask my GP more about that.

    I've been feeling a bit better these past few days, thank you for asking. About a week ago I was feeling extremely depressed and was uncontrollably ruminating on all kinds of philosophical questions. I'm still sort of doing it but my mood is better for some reason. But I'm still upset that I have to struggle so much just to feel peaceful and happy. I think the reason I ruminate is to try and find a "solution" for every bad thought, to convince myself that there's no reason for me to feel sad for the rest of my life. The only thing that I just can never seem to move past is that fear that somewhere something is suffering with no end, or will someday. That concept is just the worst thing imaginable and I can't find a positive thought to offset it.

    Also today my boss asked me if I had my license in front of everyone, and to "get myself together, I have money now!" Not in a mean way, but it embarrassed me. I'm 25 so everyone keeps telling me to get it. To be honest I'm both terrified of the road and just don't want to put myself through that effort and stress... since I don't feel like I can give much mental effort these days and I've seen what stress does to me.

    Thanks for reading.

  11. Butterfly26
    Butterfly26 avatar
    11 posts
    13 May 2022 in reply to jonjr
    Thanks heaps for the info jonjr.
  12. Petal22
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    13 May 2022 in reply to Butterfly26

    Hi Butterfly26,

    I'm glad you are feeling a bit better and that your mood has improved the past few days.

    If it is OCD part of the OCD cycle is analysing and questioning our thoughts, the OCD cycle is vicious but its a cycle that you can become aware of and learn to disengage from at every stage of the cycle, so you don't get any further into it. ( It takes practice)

    Next time you catch your self trying to find a solution for these thoughts, please direct your attention straight away to something in the present moment, like if your sitting down how does the chair feel? (really put your attention on feeling it, what can you hear? what can you smell

    By doing this you are taking your attention out of your mind and onto something in the present moment, ( you are breaking the OCD cycle).

    When you have these intrusive thoughts just try to learn to redirect your attention onto something in the present moment so you don't get so caught up in them and the cycle.

    Try not to question them or annalyse them.

    Have you ever practiced meditation?

    I understand your feelings about struggling that you can't feel peace and happiness I also felt this way when I was in the grips of my condition but looking back on it, it wasn't my fault that I felt this way because I was stuck in a viscous cycle ( it was part of the condition) and I couldn't feel this way because I didn't have the tools I needed to break free of it but that all that changed after the professional help I received and I've now found peace and happiness again and you will too!

    You just need to be taught the tools and once you have them you will be able to put back in it's box what s bothering you....... BUT you need to be taught this it's not something we just know but once you have the correct treatment and health professionals behind you you can break free.

    I'm sorry that your boss said to you what they said, you know yourself and please never feel pressured to do anything.

    I understand that your boss wasn't saying this to you in a mean way but I believe that people need to think before they speak because they don't know what you are going through.

    Please know I'm here and I totally understand were you are at, I'm more than happy to support you on your journey.

    Through your journey you will have up's and downs but always remember you are never alone and there is always hope and one day in the near future you will feel joy and peace once again within yourself.

    1 person found this helpful
  13. therising
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    14 May 2022 in reply to Butterfly26

    Hi Butterfly

    To say that the mind (the brain at work) can be a tough thing to manage at times is an understatement. The way it can create either a heaven on earth or a hell on earth is questionable. The way it can have us shift realities under a variety of circumstances is also highly questionable. My heart truly goes out to you as you work so hard on trying to make sense of the places your mind leads you to.

    Having come out of a decade and a half in depression some years back, I'd regard myself as having become a devotee when it involves researching how I tick and how human nature ticks in general. It almost feels like a part time job, based on the fact I find it all so fascinating. How we tick mentally, physically and naturally are fascinating areas of study. Yes, I'm one of those mind/body/spirit woo woo gals :)

    How we experience life from a mental perspective holds so many factors, based on what we know, what we don't know (what feels foreign to us or what we have no reference for) as well as being comprised of all our belief systems is one fascinating area of research. How we experience life from a physical perspective (biological, chemical or state of physics) is another fascinating area. How the mind and body constantly work together in the ways they do is absolutely incredible. I think my favourite area of all would have to be the natural or spiritual side of things based on the unique take on life that it offers. I think I love this area most because it can appeal to the natural philosopher in us, the natural wonderful self (full of wonder), the emotional self or 'the feeler', the intuitive self and the self that has a fascination with the nature of reality. It's a bit of 'a rabbit hole' area of research, theory, study and experience. Researching outside the square can become addictive :)

    Based on what you write, you sound like someone who's wonderful (full of wonder). You also sound like a bit of a philosopher and somewhat of an analyst. You definitely sound like a feeler, someone who feels so deeply and is sensitive to what they feel/how they feel life. The ups and downs of being a feeler can create such a roller coaster experience in life to the point where it can feel like torture at times.

    Wondering whether the science fictiony reality shift you experienced felt a bit like 'The Matrix'. Not sure whether you've ever seen the movie.

    1 person found this helpful
  14. Butterfly26
    Butterfly26 avatar
    11 posts
    14 May 2022

    Thanks guys for responding with so much help, it's nice to not feel alone in this. I agree with all you've said. Thank you for the OCD advice Petal22, and I agree that people need to watch what they say and it would be nice if they were more knowledgeable about anxiety/depression. It's such a common thing that they shouldn't just assume everyone they know is currently capable of everything that they themselves are. Also I have practiced meditation before to help with anxiety-induced procrastination. I think it did help me. I will look into it again.

    Therising, you're right, my mind does feel like a rollercoaster. When I fall into a mental health crisis I feel like I keep switching between different realities which is disconcerting. It makes it hard to"recover" when you feel like you're just blinding yourself from the bad side.

    And I haven't seen The Matrix, I've always been meaning to see it but these days I'm scared that it'll trigger something 😅

    Thanks again, helpful and kind people like the ones on this forum are what helps me to get out of a negative-thinking slump. Hopefully I'll continue to recover and at least be able to keep that awful thought from popping up every time I try to feel happy.

  15. Petal22
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    14 May 2022 in reply to Butterfly26

    That’s ok Butterfly26 happy to support you 😊

    Im glad that you have tried meditation, I believe that meditation got me over the line…. Try to find a meditation that’s guided for learning to watch your thoughts.

    I did this type of meditation in my therapy and the benefits I gained from doing this where amazing. It taught me that I’m not my thoughts but the watcher of them. ( it takes practice)..

    One tip, in your recovery you will learn many things and one of those things you will learn is that it’s ok to have intrusive thoughts… you will no longer feel the need to try and stop these thoughts re occurring you will learn to allow them to be there and float on by just like leaves on a stream. ( it takes practice)……. and in your own time things will start to come together for you and these thoughts will no longer have the power over you to interrupt your happiness because you will be in control.

    Please feel free to check in with us.

    1 person found this helpful
  16. Butterfly26
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    11 posts
    15 May 2022 in reply to Petal22
    I'll keep what you said about meditation in mind. Thank you so much for the encouraging words 😊
    1 person found this helpful
  17. therising
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    15 May 2022 in reply to Butterfly26

    Hi Butterfly

    I get where you're coming from with your apprehension when it comes to Watching 'The Matrix'. One movie that seriously messes with me and I just can't watch it again is 'The Butterfly Effect', with Ashton Kutcher. Another I'll never watch again is 'Mother!' with Jennifer Lawrence. That one was a trip, I think because I watched it as I was semi dozing, in a semi dreamy kinda state. Never good to watch a trippy movie in a semi conscious state. They say it's when your mind is open to suggestion. The mind is truly interesting thing, the way it works and sometimes doesn't work.

    The concept of reality's definitely a fascinating topic. So many different opinions on what it is and how it works. From science through to spirituality, the range of opinions are quite stunning. In some cases, it's suggested that the highs and the lows of a situation are 2 sides of the same coin. Nothing about the coin changes. In other words, the situation itself doesn't change, it's the flip or different perspective that changes how we experience the situation. For example, you could be having another absolutely horrible day at work, perceiving that day as an added form of torture. It's depressing, stressful and triggering and could have you believing there's no real point to life other than ongoing sufferance. On the flip side, if you could be led to fully believe without a single doubt in your mind that it's a necessary day in a long line of many necessary depressing, stressful days at work that are designed to push you out of that job toward the job that sets your soul alight, the depression and stress may be experienced differently. They may experienced as a depressing and stressful form of inspiration, as opposed to complete hopelessness. From the 2nd perspective, you may allow yourself to be pushed out of that job faster, looking for anything negative that will do it. Hope that all makes sense.

    Part of the Yin Yang philosophy involves there being 2 aspects that make up the whole, both the dark and the light. Of course, philosophy and a simple coin analogy don't ease the overwhelming struggle that can come with depression. They can simply point to how the mind can work at times.

    One of the strangest movies I've ever seen I saw today with my daughter, 'Everything Everywhere All At Once'. Now that one was a serious trip, based on the idea of the multiverse/multiple realities. A very strange one indeed :)

  18. Butterfly26
    Butterfly26 avatar
    11 posts
    15 May 2022

    Oh great, I tried to search up other people with similar fears to me to feel less alone, and right there was a website page pretty much telling me my fears were actually "likely" and based in "modern science".

    I wasn't going to post again but I'm so angry right now. I feel like my recovery got kicked back to square 1. I wish people could realise the consequences of what they share and to who. And I wish physicists could just stop digging up and sharing creepy concepts to begin with... Honestly I don't know who to be angry at.

    I'm reminding myself that all this is beyond human understanding anyway and I shouldn't treat everything as truth. I'm sorry for being a pain.

  19. Petal22
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    15 May 2022 in reply to Butterfly26

    Hi Butterfly26,

    Your never a pain to us, and please post when ever you want to… we love hearing from you 😊

    Ok let me share another tip with you……. When I was going through OCD one of the things I would do is google certain things the reason I was doing this was to seek reassurance and to try to lower my anxiety by doing this. ( it was part of my OCD cycle)………

    I learned in therapy that this was actually a compulsion of mine.

    In order to break free of the vicious cycle of OCD I had to stop performing this compulsion.

    Please try to resist the urge to google certain things.

    Also we don’t really know who writes this stuff on google they could be anyone.

    Please don’t believe that your recovery went back to square one because this isn’t true.

    Some days in recovery you will have good days and bad days.

    If you are feeling like things are going very fast inside your self please bring your attention onto something in the present moment and not what’s going on inside your mind.

    Just breathe

    Remember you are learning…… take it easy on yourself.

    1 person found this helpful
  20. Butterfly26
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    15 May 2022 in reply to Petal22

    Thank you Petal22. I won't look up this stuff anymore. I guess it was a compulsion for reassurance, I wanted someone to prove me wrong but instead got the opposite.

    I'm focussing on looking at positive things now.

  21. Petal22
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    15 May 2022 in reply to Butterfly26

    I understand Butterfly26, your learning there will be ups and downs.

    I used to do this aswell and it would only make things worse for me.

    I think it would be a great idea for you to stop looking up this type of thing.

    I think its fantastic that you are focussing on looking at positive things now, positivity is great it will always make you feel good.

    My news feed is full of positive affirmations. LOVE positivity

    When I was in the grips of OCD I actually realised that part of myself being so unhappy was because of the way I viewed my world, I used to view alot of things in a negative way, it wasn't a nice way to live always having that negative energy running through my body.

    So I decided to change all of that and the inner work began to changing my negative mind set to a positive one. It took hard work but it was well worth it.

    We are all on a journey Butterfly26 and our journeys are what mold us into the person we are becoming.

    1 person found this helpful
  22. therising
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    16 May 2022 in reply to Butterfly26

    Hi Butterfly

    I think, when we have an open mind this is like a gift but when it's open to the kind of stuff we don't need to explore or shouldn't be exploring (for one reason or another) things can take a negatively mind altering turn which can do more damage than good. Knowing when to close our mind to something is incredibly important. As you mention, with 'The Matrix', you've closed your mind to watching it which is good. Trust your instincts and don't watch it. Maybe at a later time you might feel compelled to watch it, some years down the track. Maybe you'll never watch it. Not a problem. For now, you feel the need not to watch it. Go with that.

    When googling stuff, if a part of you strongly dictates 'Don't look into this', trust that part of you and don't look into it. On the other hand, there may be another part of you that strongly wonders. The challenge may come down to suppressing that wonderful part of you, in favour of trusting the sage in you. Instinct is something you get a feel for, with practice.

    I've found, through my own experience, an open mind needs to be carefully managed, very carefully. Some key questions when doing research could be

    • Am I observing other people's theories, as opposed to observing proven facts? Am I open to both facts and theories or philosophies and, if so, which theories specifically? Will I take them with a grain of salt, erring on the side of caution? Science/physics has a lot of mind altering theories that can take us down a kind of fearful rabbit hole. A lot of it I just won't look into because it's very doomy and gloomy and it can leave you vibing in a terribly helpless state
    • If you're relying on modern science to give you proof of how you're feeling or how you're experiencing or perceiving life, be careful. Modern science is one view and some of it appears hopeless and can even be insulting to someone who's looking for natural answers or solutions. Life is multifaceted and science offers a look into just some of the many facets
    • Be careful with certain spiritual belief systems, be they religious or non religious. Don't believe everything your hear or read. While some aspects are inspirational, others can be destructive or at the very least unhelpful

    Born with an open mind, it's rare we're taught how to manage it strategically. Instead, it is simply filled with stuff, the kind of stuff we're left to deal with/make sense of. Learning how, when and why to open it and close it is a challenge.

    2 people found this helpful
  23. Butterfly26
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    11 posts
    18 May 2022

    Thank you everyone for your replies, and sorry I replied late, I've actually been feeling better and was trying to get back into my old habits from before I was a wreck. Like I said it feels like such a random rollercoaster. Sometimes my brain is just good at shutting something off and saying it's probably rubbish. I don't really understand it, it makes me question everything, but I'm glad it happens. I'm trying to keep it going.

    I am very facinated by science and physics which I guess was my downfall because that's how I come across these terrifying concepts. That interest doesn't go well with a person who is anxious and who can't stop thinking... I kind of wish I was never interested in it at all!

    But anyway, you've all been such a big help and I don't know how to express my thanks for your support. Hopefully I'll be able to manage this.

    1 person found this helpful
  24. therising
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    18 May 2022 in reply to Butterfly26

    Hi Butterfly

    With your love/hate relationship with science and physics I'm wondering whether a certain facet of quantum physics would prove to be of some help, without causing fear or stress. How our cells vibrate on an energetic level is a fascinating topic. Things like what makes them vibrate at a higher/faster rate or lower/slower rate or what raises their performance or puts them into a state of dis-ease or unease can be helpful to know.

    As I may have mentioned, can remember when my love of quantum physics first developed just after I came out of depression some years back. While I thought it was a strange interest to begin developing, I came across a few other people who'd experienced the same thing (developing this interest not long after coming out of depression). My interest expanded into metaphysics and then certain aspects of spirituality. There's the 'S' word that can make a lot of people cringe, shake their head and roll their eyes :) My interest in spirituality largely relates to its perspective on energy and how energy ticks. So, while from a spiritual perspective we may hear 'Find the tribe you vibe with' (the circle of people you best function with), from the perspective of quantum physics you could say 'Find the circle of people who lead your cells to vibrate (vibe) at optimum levels, which keep them out of a state of dis-ease, upset or dysfunction'.

    It's actually interesting how science is beginning to recognise the benefits of certain spiritual practices that have been around for thousands of years. Meditation, for example, has gained much scientific attention over recent years. While science studies the effects of meditation through brain waves, cell performance and chemistry, spirituality defines the ability to alter our vibration to a certain level as experiencing the vibrational feeling or signature of 'peace'. You could say 'peace' is energy in its most relaxed state.

    Whether it be science or spirituality, they're both rabbit hole experiences. It's a matter of (once we've entered) which offshoots are worth exploring and which ones we're best taking a detour away from.

    1 person found this helpful
  25. Petal22
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    18 May 2022 in reply to Butterfly26

    Hi Butterfly 26,

    Thats ok happy to help you and I’m glad you have been feeling better.

    Try not to question your thoughts just let them be there and float away, the more attention we give to our thoughts the more power we give them….

    What we give attention to we give power to.

    Yes it’s a roller coaster but the more you practice your skills the more smoother your roller coaster will become.

    Remember to practice to stay in the present moment.

    Really looking at something in the present moment like a beautiful flower gives us a sense of aw and let’s us see the magic of every day life that we get to be a part of.

    Have a lovely day and please reach out to us anytime.

    1 person found this helpful
  26. Butterfly26
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    11 posts
    19 May 2022

    Thank you everyone! If I ever look more into quantum physics I'll try and focus on the non-scary things. But I might have been scared away from it completely 😂 I guess time will tell.

    1 person found this helpful

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