How To Stop Worrying And Start Living
Stop Worrying! Look around, see the tension that almost everyone carries. It seems like everyone is worried about their problems. We are concerned about one thing after another, and then we go about thinking about the same things like we are stuck on a mental-merry go around. It is like we are in perpetual state of worry with only brief glimpses of happiness and fulfillment Is freedom from this state possible? Can we live with a better experience of life?
All through the human history there have been people who saw the predicament of human existence and realized that freedom from unhappiness is possible. They strive to impart their learning to their contemporaries but only a few people have truly understood it. Thus religions started and misinterpretations began in those times and continue now. If you have studied religious teachings, you might have realized that they are not completely helpful in opening our mind. This is because the essence of the teachings is obscured and very difficult to find.
There are awakened teachers living now and also from the recent past who are a source of direct teachings which we can bring into our lives. Teachings from Eckhart Tolle, Jiddu Krishnamurthi, Ramana Maharshi, Anthony De Mello and many other spiritual teachers have a profound impact on the current generation of seekers. We are not meant to come here and worry through life. We have come here to experience, learn and grow. This article gives their perspectives on how we can live more fully by worrying less.
Imagine there is a radio in your house and it is always turned on. It plays different sounds throughout the day and night and only shuts off when you are asleep. You seem to be able to control it sometimes, by changing channels or by reducing the volume, but most of the time it seems to have a mind of its own and decides on what it wants you to hear. You are troubled by the noise and sometimes you are so lost in the sounds that you are following it blindly, akin to being a robot following commands. You don’t know how to switch off the radio and you don’t even want to as you are better off with something known and uncomfortable than venture into the unknown.
The radio is nothing but your mind with its unconscious patterns and emotions. The mind plays out thoughts continuously, most of them being repetitive and useless. This state of mind is generally called the Ego in spiritual teachings. Thinking in itself is not harmful but a great tool with which we have built our civilization on. However, when we think unnecessarily, we tend to waste our energy and thinking becomes worry or burden. Making our energy heavy and left feel drained from joy.
Now, your next question to help stop worrying would be to know how you can go beyond the ego. Yes, that is the essence of spirituality and if you are here reading this article, very likely seeking actively. Let’s take a look at the ways propounded by the spiritual teachers I have listen above.
First, a pre-requisite for making full use of the teachings is that you should have suffered in your life. (Haven’t we all? CHECK! Mission accomplished.) Yes, you may find it surprising since we are under the impression that nothing good comes from suffering, but it is very true that if there is no suffering, you cannot see or appreciate the peace. It is not that we wish to suffer, it is simply a common way of this human experience to have some sort of hardship. Some more than others, but still, we all can understand it. We have all suffered in various ways through our lives here on earth. So, how can we release and overcome the worry and anxiety that leads from the suffering? Read on, I have tips!
Let’s look at the ways to reduce your worry:
If there is darkness in a room, one has to shine a light to remove it. Similarly, we can’t reduce unnecessary thinking with more thinking, we need to shine the light of awareness. Anthony De Mello explains the process wonderfully in his book Way to Love. He asks us to look at the mind objectively, without any effort to change it. He compares two situations where a scientist is watching the behavior of ants to study them and a dog trainer who is training a dog to change its behaviour. Be like the scientist and watch our mind without any effort of change. Since striving for change would lead to more unnecessary thought and as we know only light can remove darkness. Awareness is the light.
Meditation is a way to consciously go beyond the mind, to experience peace and to carry that peace through the normal day to day activities. Strictly speaking even being aware of your thoughts is a form of meditation, but here we are speaking of other techniques suggested by spiritual teachers. There are dozens of ways to meditate and it may get overwhelming to decide on what to do. Start with a technique and see how your mind responds. In my personal case, being aware of my breath and different parts of my mind as suggested by Eckhart Tolle in his book “Power of Now” helped me a lot in being free of worry. Be aware of the fact that one can get attached to techniques of meditation and come under the impression that one has to become an expert at a technique to become peaceful. That is not the case. Peace is always here and now, you need to focus on it.
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3. Taking action
More often than not, our mind likes to worry about problems like a dog enjoying a chew toy. At an unconscious level we don’t want our problems to end as we would lose the ability to worry about them. Set a time after meditation to write down the things that are worrying you. Write down all the action steps possible to overcome your challenges and take action without any negativity. In some situations where change is not possible immediately, accept that situation completely or remove yourself from that situation. Harboring negativity like resentments, helplessness and guilt will suck the energy out of you. Bring in awareness to go beyond them and take action.
There is another pitfall that seekers generally fall into. Since now you have read about being free of worry, you may start beating yourself up when you catch yourself worrying. Please accept that moment as it is. Enjoy the moment, bring in awareness without trying to push the worry away. When you feel good enough then write about the action steps you will take to overcome your challenges. Life gives you what you need, use your challenges to become more peaceful and reach your goals. Peace.