Anxiety is telling you to wake up and rise above the illusion. How could you not be anxious clinging to a precarious self?
Mind is Not a Possession
The notion of mind used in everyday conversation includes an unstated acceptance that we are talking about someone’s mind, such as, “I’m loosing my mind,“ or “Make up your mind.” The my mind and not my mind thinking is rooted in the belief in an assumed identity. I am my mind and what my mind thinks is me. In essence mind is mine! Mind and one’s self sense are an implied connection, similar to one’s consciousness and identity. When we become sentient and therefore self reflective our mind is considered a personal possession. This is an idea that all spiritually oriented people need to question. Through meditation and other means coming to be aware of these attachments is indeed enlightening. Engaging life wisdom needs to be at least as important as strategies of staying alive and healthy.
From conception, the number one task of our functionally alive but non-reflective group of cells appears to be that of the creation of self. Our social life journey is geared toward being a “some-body” and not just remain a body. The experimental evidence is clear and demonstrates that a newborn does not have self reflection until 8-9 months of age; only the physiological equipment is in place. Once the notion of I, me and mine begins (which it must) all manner of pleasure and torment begins. Emotions, thoughts, beliefs, children and money are all possessions that define our person. We become married to this inner defined being for better or worse. The most invasive addiction is to our self sense.
Mind, Karma and Self
The word karma, often seems to be used in a semi-joking manner to mean someone’s momentary difficulty was because you deserved it. Without writing a separate book, in summary karma is the drive toward ‘identity’ as the force that moves human consciousness. We are completely responsible for what we do with our self sense and the consequences of our choices. While having a self, an identity, is a reality taken for granted, we will see how this momentum gets distorted and how this distortion becomes the root of disturbed being. If we keep in mind our focus upon self preoccupation there is an obvious paradoxical observation. The ideas of self-esteem and self-importance, in actuality self-anything, is always healthiest when the focus on self recedes into the background. Said differently, we experience the greatest happiness when self “chooses” to focus on being open to the other.
The acceptance of choice is important in the last sentence to ensure there is an understanding that this choice has nothing to do with denial of need or a martyring of being. Deep compassion and the willingness to be with the other only comes about through a wisdom that appreciates the self as a unique expression totally dependant on the whole. Like fire and wood, there is a symbiotic relationship of dependance. Fire does not fly off on its own without dependence on its source. Indeed the fire within our being, our heat and inner light is completely dependant on our source. This is what Buddhism would call inter-being. Let us look at the opposite of inter-being and see how this distortion is the source of anxiety and most common “mind disorders."
The opposite of inter-being may be characterized as a form and degree of narcissism. My self is more important than your self. I am more right in my view than you are. I am smarter. My needs are greater. I am more worthy and more deserving. If a person lives and acts within a belief framework that is self-involved and unconnected, like most behaviour rewarded in society, then the roller coaster ride of life is set in place. The root existential anxiety of living is in place as soon as self stands apart from the whole. If your life strategy proves you worthy more often than you lose then generally your self strategy remains intact. But, anxiety will always be just below the surface. The suspected potential for anxiety guides decisions and behaviours to maintain the winning percentages.
Unfortunately most of the many “winning strategies” have nothing to do with happiness and wisdom. The majority of people that come and go on this planet engage only the roller coaster ride. Then there are the many who suffer tremendously. This suffering is disturbing due to its absolute non-necessity. Our world today is completely absorbed in self indulgence. Parents, education and careers need to give way to heart felt innocence to laugh, be silly and have wonderment.
An anxiety disorder is not a condition that indicates some people experience anxiety while others do not. The “disorder” is the temporary or continuous lack of control strategies that keep anxiety at bay. There are many unhealthy control mechanisms acceptable to the social order that form the basis of addictions, power struggles, rage and anger, incessant busyness, consumerism and of course relationships that are dysfunctional at best. These disorders keep existential anxiety hidden in the drawer.
Once a person gets bogged down in anxiety and panic they can quickly feel hopeless and powerless to get their life back on track. Sinking into depression is just one sad but useless strategy to get rid of the panic. Blame and resentment of others who appear less troubled become the focus of the sufferers. Staying out of the public eye becomes more common after all everyone is judging the troubled person. Thoughts start to become circular or obsessive as a poor method to maintain control. So what is the answer? To answer we come full circle back to understanding our false self sense and that death grip on “my” mind; life is teaching us the necessity of connecting to a greater whole.
The direct answer is not easy for the anxious person. Letting go of self involvement feels immensely vulnerable. Letting go of self focus to a person who has grown up feeling like a nobody and unsuccessfully attempting to be a somebody (always in the eyes of others) feels like impossible advice. Even a person who has decent control mechanisms in place doesn’t find it easy to let go of self focus. Everyone knows a person who is constantly on the edge of holding it all together, daily pushing for control and yet outwardly smiling throughout their self imposed torment. Unfortunately, I would never see this person in the consulting room until after the character dam has broken. What is called PTSD, for example following a car accident is a good example of a cracked veneer. The car accident isn’t the problem. The break in the strategic illusion of their character opened a window to an inner unknown world. Anxiety that has always been present rushes to the surface.
Good Mind Matters Strategies
What then are good mind matters that confront anxiety? While there are a number of ways for a person to open up their person, lets focus upon 1) the necessity of hope, 2) committing to complete personal responsibility and awareness of when we shift away from responsibility and 3) lastly the release of opening to emotional constriction. First and by far foremost, medical issues and pharmaceuticals aside, all that takes place in your world stems from the nature of mind. The place to look for all your solutions is within the mind. If a person can fully buy in to this proposition and know that healing is within reach then their feelings of hope rise. Hope that change is possible, is essential to engage and stay with the force of momentum. After over thirty years sitting and talking with people answers and theories are never the help required, but realizing you are in charge is immense.
Second and not too far behind hope is the experience of here and now awareness. A direct awareness of one’s person and the nature of connected mind leads to much greater personal responsibility. With personal responsibility comes the blowing away of blame. No one hurts our feelings but our own person holding on to pain and resentment. What we feel and hold on to is what hurts our being. We hurt ourselves through our own false self image. Keep focused upon your inner strength and remember that you are choosing what you focus upon in terms of thoughts, feelings and beliefs.
One simple practice is is be as mindful as possible for the first ten minutes when you wake up. Watch each moment with as great a focus as you can muster. Now my leg is moving and moving to the side of the bed. Now I am walking to the bathroom. Now my toothbrush is moving up and down and paying attention to the motion and feelings. What you may notice is that the greater the mindfulness the less possibility for thought and what follows is less anxiety. Relaxation follows mindfulness and you can’t be relaxed and anxious in the same moment!
Personal awareness also leads to greater awareness of others and opens up the possibility of genuine relationship that is based upon mature openness through compassion and lovingness. When you’re in judgment of another remember that is only an inner invitation to examine yourself. To love fully and openly is not just trite niceness. Giving yourself fully to any moment is a mini-death in which self focus again becomes unimportant. There is immediate relief in other-centred connection. People who suffer with anxiety are also out of balance by being lost in their thinking. Stop looking for intellectual answers. It doesn’t matter about your history of pain. Focus instead upon passion, enthusiasm and being inspired; again your focus is your choice. Everything in life is a cycle; what is here today will be gone; what has gone will return.
It can not be emphasized strongly enough that we are the creators of our unfolding moments. Until we come to an unquestioned acceptance of this reality then our day to day affairs are blown by the winds of the paths of others. From an emotional place anger is the most destructive of all human expression. By anger is meant the cork in our energy that creates an explosion. The tension destroys us physically and spiritually. Life energy can not flow easily through an inner constricted world. And again the greater the tension the more disconnected from others. Absolutely focus upon connection. See and feel it each moment.
Until next time.