There’s an interesting episode that occurs in ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ (it’s the sequel to Alice in Wonderland by the same author) and because Alice goes through the looking-glass she sees everything opposite, everything takes place sort of backwards and people live in time backwards too. At one point in a boat the Red Queen suddenly cries ‘oh oh oh’; she’s been crocheting and Alice asks what’s the matter. The queen says “I’m going to stick myself with a needle” and Alice thinks it’s very strange to be crying because she’s going to do something. But after a few minutes the Queen is perfectly calm and Alice says how come you’re tranquil about it now. The Queen says “Oh well I’ve already stuck myself”.

Nature of Worry

This is how worry is to a large extent. We anticipate something and in the anticipation build it up to be something much bigger than it really is. Usually after you’ve actually experienced the thing, it doesn’t seem all that big anymore. Anticipation exaggerates both fulfillment and disappointment. If we want to overcome this then we need to learn to live more in the present. We need to learn to calm the waves of our mind and as Jesus put it very well “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Worry is useless
I’m talking from a lot of personal experience on this one because when I was new on the spiritual path some 43 years ago I had all kinds of self-doubt. It took me a long time to work through that kink in my personality. I would imagine these horrible things coming to me and I found that they didn’t come, life managed to take care of itself pretty well. I would find that when a test came I had the strength to face it and overcome it, perhaps gradually perhaps right away. It didn’t matter as long as I kept on trying to overcome. I found gradually that we don’t need to worry too much about the future. We don’t need to worry about what might happen. As Jesus said we’ve got to put our energy out to do the best thing we can with the realities that we have right now.

Worry is like static
You know when you turn on a radio program, if you don’t have the dialed tune exactly right you’ll get a lot of static, once you come right in on the program it’s clear. It’s the same thing with television programs if your set isn’t tuned right. I’m assuming even with cable television that you can distort the image, get color balance all wrong, etc if the set isn’t tuned completely right and once you’ve got it tuned then suddenly it’s all clear.

Well worry is like static. Worry is like that distortion which distorts reality and keeps you from being able to see and take care of whatever it is that you need to face and overcome in your life. But there’s another aspect to it too and that is whatever power you have, needs to be brought to bear on whatever it is that you’re doing. The mind is like a magnifying glass. In bringing all the rays of the Sun that come onto that glass to a single point you’re able even to ignite wood. Similarly the mind is able to burn away its problems, difficulties and challenges. It’s able to overcome a great deal except for the problem that most people have; that their potential energy is scattered over all kinds of other things.

Worry fast
Now how do we overcome it. Paramahansa Yogananda made a very interesting suggestion. He said go on a worry fast. That sounds funny doesn’t it but you see worry is something that seizes the mind and goes on and on and on, just keeps going in circles and to break that he suggested that you just for a while tell yourself that for one hour this day, say from the time you get up until breakfast or from breakfast until you have to leave for work or whatever it is, for one hour you won’t worry. Just tell your mind okay I know you like to worry, you want to keep on with this but wait one hour then you can go at it again.

And so he said go on a worry fast, don’t worry for one hour. One way that he suggested doing this was also because when there’s worry there’s always a physical reaction to that. Specific worries act upon specific organs in the body and block the energy in them. Sensitive people can actually feel a heat coming from these different organs because of something that’s going on in the mind. So there’s feedback you might say between the body and the mind and even if you try to make your mind relaxed, the fact that there’s energy built up in these organs sending messages to the mind correlated to this making you worry or want to worry all over again. So it’s important in the process of trying to banish these thoughts of worry for a time, to also relax the body.

Tension and Relaxation
So He suggested a very simple little practice to begin your worry fast. During that hour every now and then if you feel that you need to do it, do it some more. Way to relax the body and thereby to be able also to relax the mind is connected with two things. One is tension and relaxation and the other is inhalation and exhalation. You know when you feel worried about something you inhale (demonstrating short breaths), you’re afraid you inhale and fear is only exaggerated worry.

When you’re relieved, when you let it go you exhale, don’t you ‘aah that feels so good, aah thank heaven that didn’t happen’ and so on. Well tie these two into tension and relaxation because when you start to worry about something you become all tense, when you relax about it because you don’t worry, you sort of let go your muscles as well as your mind’s grip on it.

So He suggested this and you might try this anytime you want to really relax your body. Inhale, tense the whole body until it’s vibrating then throw the breath out and relax. Inhale, tense, exhale, relax. Do that two or three times until your body is completely relaxed. In making the tension deliberate & conscious, any tension that might have built up in different parts of your body unconsciously as a result of mental attitudes like worry will also be relaxed when you relax the whole body. When you equalize the flow of energy all over the body it’ll be much easier to relax the whole body at once than to think of each little part individually. So inhale, tense and then when you exhale and relax, feel that you’re exhaling all worry, all tension mentally, emotionally as well as physically.

Start with a happy experience
Then he suggested keep the mind completely without thought. Just don’t think of anything. Just remain in the thought of being at rest, being peaceful. I don’t mean blank the mind out but be peaceful. Then when thoughts begin to try to come into the mind again think of some happy event in your life, some picnic you were on, some outing to the country, some trip you took, whatever it was, somebody that you met that you particularly enjoyed being with, some happy experience.

So that the mind which abhors a vacuum and will sooner or later try to start thinking again, give it something positive to think. When you’ve put the other thoughts out, you’ve prepared a camp you might say where new tents can be pitched. New tents of ideas that are positive and constructive. So both of those things going on a worry fast and also simultaneous with that practicing this filling the mind with a new outlook on life are important.

Thoughts depend on our level of consciousness
Another thing that is very interesting to consider is that our thoughts depend on the level of consciousness we’re on. So that if your consciousness is pulled down then you will be in a depressed state of mind even if you have no reason to be but if your consciousness is uplifted then you will feel inspired and happy even though you don’t see any particular reason for being happy.

This is because the thoughts that you have reflect the state of consciousness that you happen to be in right now. If you feel moody, if you feel worried gather your thoughts and lift them up to a higher state, a state where worry thoughts don’t normally exist. There’s one part of your brain particularly where worry can’t get a hold and that’s at the front of the brain, the frontal lobe of the brain.

Look upwards
It’s when you can concentrate your mind really deeply here at the point between the eyebrows then you can go into that state of deep inner peace of ecstasy where worry simply ceases to exist. This is what they teach in the yoga teachings. You’ve seen paintings of saints, they’re often depicted looking up. The assumption is that the Jesus or saints or angels or whatever are up there in the clouds but that’s not it. It’s that here (the point between the eyebrows), the mind is drawn here automatically when the soul enters a state of ecstasy and that’s why the eyes automatically go up.

That’s why when you feel inspired you look up, don’t you. You don’t ever see somebody looking down and saying I feel so inspired. As soon as you feel inspired you look up. I remember seeing a painting in a pharmacist shop, in a drugstore of somebody. They were trying to get people to take up a career as pharmacists. So here was this young man dreaming of a career as a pharmacist and how did the painter automatically depict him dreaming of this glorious future? Looking upward. How lovely to be a pharmacist was the idea. So you see that that when the mind can be uplifted then it will not be in a state of worry automatically, it isn’t a matter of having to affirm worry.

Have more faith
Now one reason that people worry is lack of faith. Have more faith in yourself. Have more faith in the simple fact that if you do your best, you can’t do more. And by doing your best, the best that could come to you will come. And so don’t think about anything else. Don’t be attached to the fruits of your action but rather just act in the moment for the best possible in the best possible way.

Affirm Happiness
Another thing is to fill the mind with positive joyful thoughts. Most people think that happiness is something that has to come to them by the acquisition of certain things like money or a new home. In fact happiness is something that you can never have until you produce it in your own mind. You may produce it in your mind by getting that new home but you’ve produced it yourself, the home didn’t do it for you. Other people can look at that home passing by and say ‘Thank God I don’t live in that hovel’ and to you it may be a palace. It’s you who do it whether it’s really a palace or really a hovel doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you make yourself happy or unhappy by your own thoughts, by your own willpower.

So calm your mind and just in that calmness be happy all the time. Affirm that you will be happy. Don’t wait for the world to make you happy or waste a lot of time that way. Just decide you’re going to be happy from now on. Calmness is another thing I touched on and meditation can help to give you that state of calmness. When you’re in a state of meditation and you feel this great peace come down upon you, all worries just leave you automatically, there’s no possibility of worry.

The thing is that when you don’t worry is when you can do best. And people who do worry find that even in there worrying they attract to themselves the very things they worry about. You see the kind of thoughts you have like magnets attract the objects of those thoughts. So try to calm your mind. Also in deep meditation just still the thoughts and offer them up into the infinite silence. Worry will leave you automatically the more you’re in touch with a larger reality.

Be non attached
Worry is like little ripples on an ocean. Sometimes they even look like waves if you’re in a little boat on the ocean. But also on each little wave there are ripples, little wave, ripples and smaller ripples and so, on no part of that surface is there any calmness. But if you fly in an airplane and look down you can’t even see the waves, even great waves. You might see a little speck of white here or there which tells you that some wave must have broken but all you see is the surface of the ocean.

It may look quite tranquil from high above and so your life too will look tranquil if you can be non attached to the ups and downs of daily realities and develop longer rhythms in your life. Learn to realize that from day to day things change but in the longer run things sort of even themselves out. If things go bad today they may get better tomorrow, if they’re great today they may not be all that great tomorrow. So don’t depend, be non-attached. Live in the eternal now if you want to really overcome on every level the worries that corrode so many people’s lives.

This is an excerpt of Swami Kriyananda’s talk from the “Spiritualize your daily life” series.
You can watch the full video here :

One Comment

  1. Very practical tips to overcoming worry. A great read. Looking up really helped. Ought to try it more often. Thank you for this blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *