Tuesday, June 16, 2009

To worry or not to worry: That is the question!

'To be or not to be: That is the question', is a oft-quoted one from Shakespeare's Hamlet.
'Being' is a state. You can be happy, sad, fearful, joyful, high, low, peaceful, or in a state of 'worry'.
Let's look at worry.

If you say, you are fearless and yet worry, you do not understand worry completely.
When you worry about something, when you worry for example, on whether your relationship is headed in the right direction or not, or whether your career is unfolding as you expect it to: The basis for these worries is fear. You fear the consequence of the relationship not turning out well. You fear the consequence of your career not turning out as expected.
There is a distinction between being cautious and planning ahead vs worrying about it. Worrying is a repetitive state of mind, where one plays out 'what-if' scenarios in one's head repeatedly. It is a state that begets more of itself. That is to say, the more you worry, the more you can worry!

The understanding that stems out of examining worry is that, it serves no purpose, at all! It could probably keep you stressed, it could probably keep you tense, it could probably make your heart beat fast, and it could also affect your health adversely.
But positive affects of worrying? None, whatsoever. (Let me know if there is one!)

All this is easy to understand, but to say, 'Ok I am going to stop worrying. I will plan ahead, but I will not worry' - That might not work out. Why, you ask? It's because the mind does the worrying and you are asking the 'mind' to stop worrying. You are talking about calming down the mind!
Who said that's an easy job?
When a 'direct' approach to stop worrying doesn't work, one can turn to 'indirect' approaches. Some of them are:
a) Having positive thoughts about whatever you are worrying about. Example: It's all going to work out well, It's all going to be good, etc.
b) Distracting your mind from the worry through focusing on something else. For example, focusing on your work..Putting all attention to it. Or, taking a break and doing a favorite activity, etc.
c) Understanding the mind-body connect: Relaxing the body, calms down the mind and calming down the mind, relaxes the body and applying it by using a relaxation technique to relax the body and thus calm down the mind.
d) Meditation - Active or passive.

What do a),b),c) and d) have in common? They are all centering tools.. They center your awareness to the present moment, which is free of all worries, fears, regrets, hurts, etc: All the things that keep you from being happy. So the idea is simple: Be in the present moment(i.e. your mind focused on the present), whatever activity you maybe engaged in and that's the key to happiness.
Sound's simple? But the implementation is the tough part. As with anything, the implementation is made easier through practice.
For me, this is a totally sound basis for using these centering tools. The last centering tool, meditation is as varied as you can imagine. In meditation, centering can achieved by focusing on one's breath, which is ever present, or focusing on an object of one's choice, outside of oneself or within one's own imagination. Meditation can also be of a passive kind, where you can act as an observer to whatever's happening at the present moment. You can also be an observer to your own thoughts! 'I am observing my own thoughts!' - Isn't that funny?
The next question is, if you are observing your thoughts, who is thinking them? :)

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