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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

When awareness comes, anxiety goes

A friend wrote to me saying “I am always anxious. Of something or the other. I am not sure it is right or wrong. But I don’t enjoy it one bit!”

How can anyone enjoy being in a continuous state of tension? Anxiety is nothing but being in a tense state – tense about things, people, events, situations, kids, work, commute, traffic, almost everything! To be sure, anxiety has become a part of our everyday living. And that’s primarily because the mind unfailingly magnifies our anxieties. So my friend is not alone.

Is there a way out? Indeed. Awareness can rid us of anxiety.

The human mind is like a freeway. Hundreds of thousands of thoughts, like vehicles on a freeway, make their way through the mind. Every thought need not be a call to action. But because of this notion that you are supreme, you are the center of your Universe, you jump at every thought. We used to have a pet at home years ago, a smart Doberman called Ashley. His ears would perk up if he heard the slightest sounds on the street. I can only think of all of us behaving like Ashley in response to every thought that makes its way through the mind. The anxious human mind is like a scared rabbit – it is forever scurrying in different directions! Responding to several zillion, irrelevant calls to action!

Your anxieties are actually evidence that you are not anchored within. And that’s because your reference points are all outside. For instance – Who’s saying what about you to whom? What will people think of me now? What if my kids don’t turn out like other kids their age? What if people think I am not smart, not handsome, not beautiful, not intelligent, not wealthy – whatever? Anxiety is not just a feeling. It is who you are. It is a reflection of your continuous desire to become something rather than simply be.

Such thinking makes Life miserable. Because we are being driven by desire. Besides, when we think of external reference points we are limiting ourselves. We are not seeing our whole potential. In worrying about wanting to become something that we are not, we are missing what we already are. In Tuesdays with Morrie (by Mitch Albom), Morrie tells the story of two waves in the ocean. The wave in the front tells the one following it that it is frightened because it is about to crash into the shore and cease to exist. But the second wave shows no fear. It explains to the one ahead: “You are frightened because you think you are a wave; I am not frightened because I know I am part of the ocean!”

Our anxieties are an impediment to our living in bliss! Once we become aware of our true nature, of who we really are, we will be free. Awareness will then replace anxiety. And then, like the second wave, we will realize that no matter how many times we crash on the shore, and stop being a wave, we will still celebrate being part of the ocean!

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