How To Build More Trust (So You Don't Feel So Anxious All The Time)

mbg Contributor By Megan Monahan
mbg Contributor
Megan Monahan has been practicing and teaching Vedic Meditation since 2009.

Image by Lucas Ottone / Stocksy

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We don't think a lot about the idea of trust outside of, say, whether or not we trust a particular person. But trust, as a state of being, is about so much more than any one given relationship. In her newly released book Don't Hate, Meditate!: 5 Easy Practices to Get You Through the Hard Sh*t (and Into the Good), meditation instructor Megan Monahan conceptualizes trust as a key component of being able to live a calm, anxiety-free life. In the below excerpt, Monahan frames trust as something that can give us so much freedom from the weight of worry in all parts of our life. When you trust that you'll be able to figure things out even if they go wrong, there's no need to worry.

Trust is more about "letting in" than it is about "letting go."

Trust is like an invisible, indestructible bubble that you get to practice surrounding yourself with. As you practice trusting, your level of awareness will grow with you as you open up your heart, mind, and soul. If you stay the course, you'll be more than capable of resting in a space filled with trust that can anchor you in safety, guide you with clarity, and open you up to expansiveness. Trust is about letting in everything that has come before this: an acknowledgment of and grounding in the present, an acceptance of the present moment and of yourself, an awareness of the power you house within your mind through intentions, and an openness that requires letting go of judgment. Trust holds all of it together and opens you up to the ultimate expression of love, possibility, expansion, bliss, and peace. When our fear shows up, and we lose elements of that recipe, the end result doesn't come out quite right. Sure you can experience them on their own, but together they are so much sweeter. After all, do you want an occasional chocolate chip or the whole cookie?

There is no part of me that believes you are lacking in any way. Do not forget that the entirety of the Universe is coded within every single one of your cells. You are made of the same stuff that you marvel at in nature. The grandiosity of mountain ranges, the expansive magnificence of the oceans, the effortless flow of energy that the plants drink up from the sun, the circle of life that every animal is a divine participant in: That's you. Trust that your being doesn't require any add-ons; it begs only to be lightened. You don't need any relationships, financial payouts, past-life readings, horoscope daily calendars, or mala necklaces to become a whole and complete version of yourself. Trust that everything you need to get through whatever challenges you're facing is already within you. And as much as it can seem easier to keep grabbing for things to seemingly fill you, that load gets heavy and it's temporary. They're empty spiritual calories. Old stuff, even if it doesn't serve you, at least is known and tangible. Lightening that load can seem scary because it opens you up to a lot of unknowns. Trust, though, that your internal levels of awareness will grow with you as you open up.

Meditation: Breathing in trust.

This meditation grounds you to this present moment.

Set your alarm for five to 20 minutes. With your eyes open or closed, take a deep breath in through your nose, hold that breath at the top of the inhalation for one or two seconds, and let it out through your mouth. Repeat for five breaths, and then allow your breathing to relax. Effortlessly breathe in and out through your nose without an attachment to the speed or rhythm of it.

With every inhalation, begin silently repeating in your mind, "INHALE."

With every exhalation, begin silently repeating in your mind, "TRUST."

If your mind drifts to a sound you hear, a physical sensation in your body, or another thought, bring yourself back to the repetition of breathing in "INHALE" and breathing out "TRUST." With each exhalation, allow yourself to invite in that feeling of safety and surrender that accompanies deep trust.

When your timer goes off, take a moment with your eyes still closed to sit in how you feel. You just spent time literally breathing in the energy and feelings of trust. For at least the next few hours, notice whether that shows up in the way that you're thinking or responding to what's happening in your life. Don't put pressure on yourself to have any specific experience, but open up to the possibility of feeling and being a little more trusting in the absence of an external reason to be. Practice finding safety and a grounded sense of trust within yourself, first, before looking for it out in the world.

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Trust doesn't require a co-signer.

When I was a sophomore in college, my four best girlfriends and I decided to get an apartment off campus. I went to college in Boston, and my campus was in the middle of the city. Looking for apartments in that context felt very adult. When we found a great place to live, the application asked us if any of our parents could co-sign our lease. Translation: Is there someone who seems like less of a risk who can validate who you are and vouch that you'll pay your rent each month? The landlord wanted someone to affirm that it was OK to trust us. I get it. We were 19, had part-time jobs at best, and were committing to paying a few thousand dollars a month to a stranger. In that situation, a co-signer is a great idea.

Embodying trust at the deepest level of your being (beyond your mind) awakens a sense of safety and stability regardless of the external circumstances.

In a more abstract context, the Universe doesn't offer tangible co-signers who validate your trust. It's easy to look for external assurance that it's OK to trust, that it's OK to believe that we'll be all right/happy/employed/loved/financially secure. Embodying trust at the deepest level of your being (beyond your mind) awakens a sense of safety and stability regardless of the external circumstances. Those circumstances outside of ourselves make us feel like everything is going to be OK, but they're not real. Recall a time when you felt fear and scarcity around something that was uncertain in your life. Maybe it was the last time you were looking for a job, for example. And then let's say you ran into a friend who, after hearing that you were looking for work, said, "Oh, they're actually hiring at my office, and you might be great for that position." In that moment, absolutely nothing in your reality has changed. You're still unemployed. And yet, you instantly feel a wave of relief wash over you because you've received external validation that things will be "OK" again. Just to reiterate, in that moment you still don't have a job. You just have ideas and other people's trust, which are easier to have faith in than the unknown because they don't require anything from you. But leaning on others' foundation will ultimately always feel unstable. The strongest foundation you could possibly stand on is your own source of trust. Trust that what you need is already within you.

Disclaimer: I know that trust especially can feel like a privilege you don't have. It's absolutely easier to believe in the idea of trusting the Universe if your world didn't offer so much evidence to the contrary. If your basic needs were always met, if there was some kind of literal or figurative safety net there to catch you, you will likely have an easier time identifying a sense of safety and trust within yourself. If your world didn't include that, that muscle of trust may take longer to build up. Eventually, with meditation, you'll be able to tap into the fact that even if you haven't always been able to trust external circumstances in your life, you can always trust in yourself.

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Meditation: Inviting in trust.

Step 1: Breathe and relax.

Step 2: Affirmation: "I trust that the seeds of what I need are within me."

Step 3: Mantra: "SO HUM."

When you're ready, start by setting an alarm for however long you're going to sit in meditation. Ideally this is 15 to 20 minutes. Make your environment as quiet as possible. If you want to light a candle or incense, take a moment to do that as well. Once you're finished prepping, move into a comfortable seated position with your back supported, and place your hands together in your lap or resting on the top of your legs. Sitting with your palms up is receptive to energy, and palms down will feel more grounding.

Then, gently close your eyes and take a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Use these first few breaths to become present and, most importantly, give yourself permission to rest in that space for the remainder of your meditation. For these first couple of minutes, just notice how you're feeling mentally and physically. Continue taking a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. With each inhalation, settle more into the present moment, and with each exhalation, let yourself relax more and more.

Really feel into your breath. As you breathe, notice where you feel it in your body. With each breath, let go a little more of anything that doesn't exist with you in that room, in that moment. Allow your breath to then move in and out gently through your nose at a pace that feels relaxed.

Next, check in with your physical body, moving from the crown of your head down through your toes, and actively soften and relax any areas where you sense tension or tightness.

If you need to, take a look at the affirmation. Begin silently repeating to yourself, "I trust that the seeds of what I need are within me." Gently repeat this for about a minute.

Then begin silently repeating the mantra "SO HUM." If linking it with the breath is helpful, feel free to do that in the beginning: With each inhalation, repeat "SO," and with each exhalation, "HUM." Don't get too attached to keeping the mantra linked with the breath, though. Continue the effortless and silent repetition of the mantra.

If your attention drifts to another thought in your mind, a feeling in your body, or a sound in your environment, simply notice that your mind has left the mantra and bring your attention back to the mantra.

Continue the repetition until your alarm goes off, and then take several deep breaths to gradually bring yourself out of your meditation. When you're ready, open your eyes gently.

If it feels comfortable, set the intention for the rest of your day to practice believing that affirmation. Practice thinking it, even if you don't believe it at all. And notice how you feel at the end of the day.

Reprinted from Don't Hate, Meditate. Copyright © 2019 by Megan Monahan. Illustrations copyright © 2019 Nadine Schemmann. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.

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