Strange how that which is uncomfortable can somehow give us a feeling of security. It’s sort of like “home base.”
Worry is a habit that many of us have taken on. It is not who we are; it’s just a habit.
Habits are comfortable in that they reassure us of our identity. We often hear someone say, “This is just who I am,” inferring that we really can’t change, for this is just who we are.
Habit patterns in our mind make up our identity. But they are not our reality!
Speaking for myself, when life happens and I’m not at ease with what is taking place, I often run right into the habit of worry. I worry that things are not going right and that something is amiss. It’s so easy to fall into.
But worry is not helpful. However, it can be, when we decide to look deeply into what it is made up of—what thoughts, ideas and beliefs make up this pattern. These are the roots of what later blooms as worry.
The first step is to watch the hidden energy of worry and investigate its nature by asking what does worry do? How does it act? As we become the observer of the movement and look for the patterns, we will notice that it constricts.
In fact, according to Webster, the root word for worry is “to strangle.”
You may have heard the phrase “like a dog worrying a bone.” The dog has the bone firmly clamped in its mouth, won’t let it go and carries it everywhere. It is strangling that bone!
Worry actually cause us to get smaller. It is constrictive. It is a method of survival. We think if we draw in very tight we might become invisible and thus escape something.
In this position it is impossible to see other options. We just go round and round with the same thoughts. Just like that dog, worrying that bone.
In all honesty what have we ever escaped by worrying? Things are either going to happen or they won’t. Our worrying, our drawing in tighter and squeezing ourselves into a ball, hasn’t really prevented things from taking place, has it? Or caused something to happen?
There are more fruitful activities in life than worrying.
I suggest paying attention to the habit of mind we fall into when something unpleasant occurs. Observing what we run towards and what we run away from will truly help loosen (and eventually dissolve) our habits of clinging tightly to some hoped for outcome, and pushing away what we don’t want. For this is how we suffer.
And we will begin to have options. Even in times of trouble it is good to have options, isn’t it? Maybe especially in difficult times we need to have options.
Beliefs, strung together, referred to again and again become habitual ways of seeing something. Beliefs eventually become attitudes.
New habits are formed as we pay very close attention to where our mind goes for solace—the corners we try to hide in as life happens.
Warding off, pushing away what we don’t want to see or think about, or clinging tightly to what we desire to take place simply doesn’t give us freedom. It forms habits that feel tight, for they restrict.
As we intentionally pay attention to where our mind goes, we learn. We grow emotionally and spiritually.
Let’s watch where we run to, what thoughts we cling to or struggle with. We don’t have to fix things, or figure out solutions, we simply need to pay attention.
The irony is that we are the ones that hurt ourselves, for we are the power. Our mind is our power. And it isn’t even “our” mind. It doesn’t belong to us. It is our nature. We have been gifted with this great power. It’s ours to use, but not to claim selfishly.
This great Mind flows through us, just as the breath flows through our body. The breath isn’t ours to claim either; we can simply let the breath use us.
It only requires our intention and attention. Noticing where our mind has run to—observing this great mind and remembering to breathe consciously will bring us back into our bodies where we can begin again.
Conscious breathing is the practice of mindfulness. We can do this again and again for as long as it takes.
Perseverance leads to liberation.