Using the Now to overcome anxiety
I have been extremely interested in spiritual growth for a number of years. I have avidly followed the likes of David Hawkins, Alan Watts, Eckharte Tolle and Sadhguru. I believe that spiritual growth is essential for everyone. We can all develop, but the reason for this blog is that anxiety doesn’t exist in awareness.
Life is good in the moment.
The more we practise being present and living in the moment the less anxiety we have. This is because the majority of moments we find ourselves in are fine or even good. When you remove the drama of what might happen, you see the present is not that bad. Very rarely does the moment right now have any actual problems.
Was it worth the worry?
Take a look back at a day when you were anxious. How many minutes or hours do you think you spent worrying that day? Now compare that to what actually did go wrong. You will likely see a massive discrepancy. Often I hear that nothing bad happened at all. All the person did was worry about something that ‘may’ happen that then didn’t. Or it wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be when it did happen.
With anxiety you are attempting to predict the future and also to control that future. No-one can control the future in the present moment. Anxiety exists when there is a conflict in the psyche. The conflict here is you are trying to change something that is not able to be changed, the future.
By placing ourselves into the now we are creating a new thought pattern, one of awareness. Awareness is the level above consciousness. To become aware is simple. Spend a few minutes scanning your body. Feel how your clothes feel against your skin. How your body feels again the chair you are in. Become aware of the jewellery you are wearing, if you are. Awareness requires no thought. Awareness simple is. If you become aware of an itch, it will be your consciousness that wants to scratch it. Consciously we place a label on everything. Awareness has no opinion. Awareness can feel something is hot, but it doesn’t state if that is good or bad.
So how can this help with anxiety?
We will use driving nerves as an example here.
When you are sitting on the sofa knowing you have to drive that afternoon you have 2 choices. To worry about the drive or to be in the present moment. If you worry about driving you will spend the day anxious. If you spend the day being present you will float through the day. Being present means when you are sitting on the sofa, experiencing sitting on the sofa. Realising that at that moment in time nothing is wrong. At that exact moment asking yourself ‘do I have any issues right now? The chances are, you don’t. You are missing the now by living in the future of what might happen when you go for a drive.
Don’t let your mind run riot
When we get anxious our mind can run riot and lead to any possibility if we let it. The more we let it run, the higher our anxiety is likely to be.
The Anxiety only develops when we leave the now. Unhappiness arises from going beyond the reality of now and creating a story out of the past or the future.
By continuously placing yourself in the now and seeing that life rarely has problems, when you are in your car you can become present. Yes, you are in a car, but right here right now is that a problem? You will see that your presence of the now in all situations is able to dissolve the illusionary threat of that around you. You will then be in the car and anxious thoughts may appear. But you become aware of the now. You will see that you are just a person who is sitting safely driving their car.
We know that this situation brings upon anxiety and the feelings that come with it. But you will realise that there are other ways of approaching the situation. Other ways of seeing it and dealing with it. Awareness allows you to the see the totality of the situation and allows you to adopt a clearer perspective.
What if the now is upsetting?
If the now is causing you anxiety, then we have to look at this with a different approach. We can’t change the way you are feeling in this moment. The way you are feeling is the now, it is what is. If you attempt to make the now different this will increase the anxiety. Is it possible for you to accept that, what you feel right now?
Can you accept the now?
Your answer will most likely be ‘no, I don’t want to accept this’. When you realise that the unhappiness is fuelling your being unhappy the only thing left is not mind about being unhappy. It sounds paradoxically that you have to not mind being unhappy to get over being unhappy, but this creates space and allows awareness in. We need the mind to not resist and allows the light to shine in. By allowing consciousness in you will start to see a separation between the thought and the emotion. In time the power of the emotion will start to dwindle which then turns the thought into nothing more than a thought.
This moment is a moment that has come about because this how the universe panned out. The universe is as it should be and it cannot be changed. When you are aware that the universe is where it should be you can then accept it for what it is. We can’t change this now moment of the universe. It is here because of everything that has gone before. So today you have to accept people, situations, circumstances, and events as they are occurring. If you struggle against this you are actually struggling against the whole universe.
Accept what happens
So today, make the choice that you will accept what happens. Accept them as they, are not how you wish they were. When you feel anxiety against a person, situation, you need to remember that you are not reacting to the person or situation, but to your feelings about the situation. These are your feelings and your feelings are not the fault of any person or any event. When you understand this you can take control of your feelings and provide acceptance.
But what if the now and the feelings it produced are terrible and you don’t want to accept them. You don’t want to say I accept that this is terrible. Accept the fact that you can’t accept that situation.
When we are required to accept the moment it may well take us to a place we don’t want to go. The reality is though, we only have 3 options to choose from; complain, accept, change. Complaining is a negative energy, so under no circumstances do we want to choose that route. But before going to change we always want to see if we can accept a problem. Accepting an issue can be very tough and it might mean going where we don’t want to go. Sometimes we have to find that strength to allow the feelings to surface and allow them to vent.
Once you see the feeing rise from the body you can choose to observe those feelings. Accept them for what they are, just feelings. It may take multiple attempts before the feelings subside. But in the long run, accepting a situation you don’t like will eventually be disconnected from any negative emotion.
The only options
- Complaining. Whichever way you to attempt to justify complaining it is never productive. It increases the negative energy inside you and achieves very little. Often the complaint is only happening inside your own head. If you step back and think about that for a moment you will see how silly a thing to do it is. You are simply keeping alive negativity for actually no reason as the internal complaint doesn’t actually change the fact.
- Change. If you have an issue with your life you may need to see if you can change that which is causing issue. If you are anxious about driving, not driving isn’t the answer. When I talk about change, I mean looking at a situation that you can’t accept and working out how to remove or change the boundaries. For example, I have a very depressed friend, I have tried many times to reach out to him but he didn’t accept my help. You can only help people that want to be helped. But I found that he was constantly around me and actually projected his negative life into mine and doing his best to make me feel bad. This wasn’t his intention but I always left his company feeling worse than I did before I met up with him. I tried to accept it was who he was and I do accept him for who he is but I needed a boundary. Rather than remove him from my life I simply placed a set of rules on him. He wasn’t allowed round my house as if he came round it was very tough to get rid of him and when I went to meet him I always set a time scale for my stay. This allowed me to not remove this person from my life but change the way we interacted. In this instance as long as I wasn’t around him too long I was able to fend off his negativity.
Accept or change the situation where necessary, never complain. Allow the feelings to rise, observe them and allow time for them to float away.
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