how to stop chronic worry?

This is the place to post whatever questions you have related to the teachings of Eckhart Tolle. The rest of us will do whatever we can to help you achieve a better understanding :)
ralphwaldo
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Apr 19, 2008 8:00 pm

how to stop chronic worry?

Post by ralphwaldo » Sat Apr 19, 2008 8:53 pm

Hi,

First post here. Have been reading this forum for a few weeks and have found a lot of helpful and insightful stuff. I recently read Practicing the Power of Now (actually the audiobook) and I'm going through it a second time. This was my intro to ET and I may read PON and/or NE eventually. Also have watched some of the ET/Oprah podcasts.

I've been a habitual worrier for a long time but past several months it has become chronic and pervasive. The background is:
- mother died 1 year ago and I discovered her body in her condo (was even worse than it sounds)
- I quit my job of 18 yrs a couple months later
- I travelled to India alone for a few wks
- I became a full time student at the age of 43 in January

Soon after quitting the job, I began to develop all sorts of distressing physical sensations and issues - tingling, trembling, insomnia, twitching, fatigue and lethargy. Had myself convinced I had some sort of neurological disorder. Saw my doc, a neurologist, had blood and urine tested. All clean.

Went to India and all problems disappeared. Came home and felt tired but "normal". Gradually second phase of problems set in - insomnia, sudden episodes of anxiety bordering on panic a couple times, general feeling of dread, headache, abdominal pain, depression over health, hopelessness, irritability. Past week or so, I am constantly up and down like a "cork bobbing on the sea" (quote from a book). Trivial little things can suddenly send my mood to darkness, other little things can elevate it out of proportion.

During past few months:
- doing sitting meditation daily
- 8 wks of acupuncture + spiritual guidance from Trad Chinese Med guy
- 6 wks of therapy/counseling
- read Tolle, Pema Chodron, various Buddhist tidbits, Clarie Weekes
- stayed off drugs, except Xanax a few times

My therapist thinks I have PTSD on some level from the incident with my mother. Of course I am now identifying with this label but at the same time I do not fully accept this diagnosis. Too easy.

Of all the things I've learned, ET has had the most profound effect. There have been times when I'm listening to PractingPON in the car and I have to stop and just sit in stunned silence. I know he's rehashing a lot of eastern philosophy and spirituality but he wraps in such powerful language. A couple times, I have come away feeling a previously unknown sense of peace and clarity. I've gone in public a few times afterwards and I feel a strange urge to hug everyone I see. This is very unusual for a person who has historically been cynical and hyper critical of myself and others. So for sure a slight shift in consciousness has occurred and compassion is seeping through my hardened exterior.

Many of my physical symptoms have diminished or dissolved. Those that remain no longer torment me. But now I (my painbody I suppose) has latched on to the issue of what all this worrying and anxiety and tension is doing to my mind, body and psyche. This keeps me up nights. I can't stop projecting into the future, fearing, dreading. So destructive and energy draining and yet cannot stop. There are times when just hearing the word "anxiety" or hearing someone discuss psyhcological disorders can send a white hot blast of fear through my gut and send my heart racing like mad.

I have come to understand I am trying too hard, striving for resolution. Have others experienced anything close to this? How have you coped? I am constantly searching for signs of progress. I understand intellectually that acceptance, non-resistance, compassion and courage – and of course presence – are key but it's hard to really believe unless the words ring true in your own experience. Sorry for the long long sob story. I hope I've added something to the conversation!

Thanks!

User avatar
Onceler
Posts: 2257
Joined: Sun Nov 11, 2007 1:35 am
Location: My house

Re: how to stop chronic worry?

Post by Onceler » Sun Apr 20, 2008 4:20 am

I had a similar experience to yours when my father died...I went back to school as well after that and got married, just to put my life stress through the roof.

Losing a parent is a big deal! I found it took me a lot of time to get over it and I had just about all the symptoms you had; insomnia, terrible/constant anxiety, health worries, etc. In fact, reading your post brought some of that back. I did not have Tolle, nor did I do many of things you are doing. It sounds like you are taking an appropriate course of action.

Hang in there and be aware. The pain body does dissolve and you have a great opportunity to do it, although I know from expereince that most days don't feel like an opportunity.
Be present, be pleasant.

User avatar
Sighclone
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6362
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 6:22 pm

Re: how to stop chronic worry?

Post by Sighclone » Sun Apr 20, 2008 8:01 am

Mr. Emerson:

Some thoughts from ET, in Stillness Speaks:

"Here is a new spiritual practice for you: don't take your thoughts too seriously." (Stillness Speaks, p.15)

"Whenever you are immersed in compulsive thinking, you are avoiding what is. You don't want to be where you are. Here...now." (SS, p.16)

"See what...your mind is doing to you. Feel the emotional attachment you have to your victim story and become aware of the compulsion to think or talk about it. Be there as the witnessing presence of your inner state. You don't have to do anything. With awareness comes transformation and freedom." (SS p. 31)

"Acceptance of the unacceptable is the greatest source of grace in this world." (SS, p.71)

Namaste, Andy
Last edited by Sighclone on Mon Apr 21, 2008 6:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce

WhoAmI
Posts: 54
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2007 11:01 am

Re: how to stop chronic worry?

Post by WhoAmI » Sun Apr 20, 2008 12:16 pm

Ralph,

Whenever you have a panic attack, try and see the almost irresistible urge to run from that.
Essentially - it's an urge to change the current experience.

It's an amazing mystery how this comes about - but effectively, it's as ineffective as you get.
Running away from an unpleasant feeling tends to perpetuate it.

So, after noticing that flight impulse - try and see what happens if you don't run away from it and not get entangled in it.
What if you're just here, now - at the face of adversity.

Scary as hell, I know - but you might just find that what seemed unbearable a moment ago is suddenly more spacious and certainly not as dangerous as you thought.

What makes the pressure in your chest/abdomen/throat (cross any or none of the above, or add any other physical symptom of a panic attack I've left out) is the storyline that goes with it. Very often too fast to comprehend - but when it's there we know it's horrible and dooming.

If thoughts keep roaming in your head when you're just here, now - let them. Be with them the same way you're with the anxiety and pain.

And if at first you don't succeed - try, try again :-)

It may seem hard at first.
You might be surprised at what you find, and perhaps you'll also find that it gets easier with time.

And, of course - what's good for a fully-blown panic attack is even easier to do with your everyday, run-of-the-mill unease.

Love,
WhoAmI

*-------------------------
Edited for minor typos
*-------------------------
Last edited by WhoAmI on Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:33 am, edited 2 times in total.

ralphwaldo
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Apr 19, 2008 8:00 pm

Re: how to stop chronic worry?

Post by ralphwaldo » Mon Apr 21, 2008 2:31 am

Sincere thanks all, for the thoughtful replies. Sometimes just having someone be able to relate to your experience makes a difference.

Onceler – You're right, it is a big deal to lose a parent. And I understand what you say about seeing this as an opportunity. I fully acknowledge and even appreciate what this is teaching me, but when I'm really feeling bad it's next to impossible to see it positively. But I guess you have to keep trying.

Andy – Nice quotes. The part about "With awareness comes transformation and freedom" is one of the hardest parts to accept because if you have not yet achieved a transformation, you can only hope or trust or have faith that it will happen for you. I think I have awareness, and yet I still suffer, so I guess it's necessary to also be patient.

WhoAmI – What you describe is at the heart of so many (all?) spiritual teachings it seems. I have had some success with stopping and observing when I get suddenly anxious. I think the hardest part for me is anticipatory fear, as in I wonder what will happen next. It's the mind projecting into the future and worrying about what *might* happen in an hour or next week. You're totally right about the flight impulse. It's the natural response and yet the teaching is to resist it and to simply pause and observe. I have to wonder why the natural response is a bad one?! Paradox of human behavior i guess.

Thanks again!
–RW

User avatar
kiki
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 4565
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2004 8:55 pm
Location: Wherever "here" happens to be

Re: how to stop chronic worry?

Post by kiki » Mon Apr 21, 2008 2:41 am

Welcome to the board, RalphWaldo. You've gotten some good responses from some great people, but your own words are most meaningful because they arise out of your own experience. Reread them, for they are your answer:
Of all the things I've learned, ET has had the most profound effect. There have been times when I'm listening to PractingPON in the car and I have to stop and just sit in stunned silence. I know he's rehashing a lot of eastern philosophy and spirituality but he wraps in such powerful language. A couple times, I have come away feeling a previously unknown sense of peace and clarity. I've gone in public a few times afterwards and I feel a strange urge to hug everyone I see. This is very unusual for a person who has historically been cynical and hyper critical of myself and others. So for sure a slight shift in consciousness has occurred and compassion is seeping through my hardened exterior.
Return to presence again and again and you'll discover worry melts away. I am speaking from my own experience as a former "worrier".
"Miss Kelly, perhaps you'd like this flower. I seem to have misplaced my buttonhole ... Miss Kelly, you know, when you wear my flower you make it look beautiful." Elwood P. Dowd
---

ralphwaldo
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Apr 19, 2008 8:00 pm

Re: how to stop chronic worry?

Post by ralphwaldo » Tue Apr 22, 2008 2:58 am

kiki wrote:Welcome to the board, RalphWaldo. You've gotten some good responses from some great people, but your own words are most meaningful because they arise out of your own experience. Reread them, for they are your answer:

Return to presence again and again and you'll discover worry melts away. I am speaking from my own experience as a former "worrier".
I am certainly trying to do this. I am often aware when I begin to drift into past or future, or when I start labeling, judging, resisting. A shift has occurred. And yet the anxiety and mental/emotional/physical exhaustion persist (7-8 months off and on). It's tough to know whether awareness and presence alone can resolve my issues; that is, whether it will be true for me. I assume it takes time to undo decades worth of conditioning?

Thanks a lot, kiki.

User avatar
Sighclone
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6362
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 6:22 pm

Re: how to stop chronic worry?

Post by Sighclone » Tue Apr 22, 2008 6:28 am

RW -

Eckhart spoke tonight on Oprah about the need for more time for Awareness to smoke out old habits - in this case, drinking and eating for one of the callers. Hang in there...

Andy
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce

WhoAmI
Posts: 54
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2007 11:01 am

Re: how to stop chronic worry?

Post by WhoAmI » Tue Apr 22, 2008 3:27 pm

ralphwaldo wrote: WhoAmI – What you describe is at the heart of so many (all?) spiritual teachings it seems. I have had some success with stopping and observing when I get suddenly anxious.
I would suggest noticing how you referred to stopping and observing as "success".
Since there's no failure here, success is also non-existent. Mind-borne division only :-)

"Stopping" is something that, to me, is also reminiscent of resistance.
If stopping happens - great! See that, too.

I was referring to "non-doing", which I understand to be completely different from "stopping".
It's just that when that urge to flee comes, I find that effectively it all boils down to "what do I do to make this unpleasant/awful/born-of-Satan experience stop?".

To me, "non-doing" is just tossing a question into the abyss (either verbally or just in sense-experiential sort of way): "What happens if instead of doing something I just do nothing and let everything be as it is?". I find it to be a very powerful question, especially when asked with a curious intent. Come what may - anger, resistance, the urge to stop, actual stopping. Let it all be. I find that when the question is posed "I" go into watching in a visceral, very direct manner.

I've just discovered that in the last week or so and it's made a big difference in WhoAmI's life :-)
(and if you're looking for clear teaching about letting things be as they are - Adyashanti is a great place to look [adyashanti.org]).

You're totally right about the flight impulse. It's the natural response and yet the teaching is to resist it and to simply pause and observe. I have to wonder why the natural response is a bad one?! Paradox of human behavior i guess.
Well, again - I understand the teaching as non-resistance, rather than resisting any urge. It's pure allowing, and by "doing" it again and again you may find that you can continue a conversation mid-sentence when this realization occurs ("Oops! Resistance again..."), and naturally slip into a mental non-doing.

This is a great forum (and thanks go to Eric and our lovely moderators for facilitating it).
You'll find most people here are accepting and willing to lend an insight whenever you wish for one.

One thing about this seeming process of becoming "more aware" (as if that's possible, but from the person's perspective it seems like a process very much, doesn't it? :-)) or "growing in presence" - it may present bumpers and slumps along the way.

And a knowledgeable, loving support community is sometimes just what the Buddha ordered (pointed?).

And one last thing to add to this extremely verbose message :-).
People tend to "measure their spiritual level" by the emotions that are generated.
Remember - awareness discriminates against nothing, including pain and despair.
When all emotion is allowed to be, the peace that's always there is brought to the surface, even if the emotion is still there for a while.

It's tricky business - one can't let everything be with the intention of changing something as a result. Can you see how subtle this is? Recognizing this as it happens (over and over again at first, probably...) can be a great, liberating realization!

Love,
WhoAmI

User avatar
as.it.is
Posts: 39
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2007 7:29 am
Location: California

Re: how to stop chronic worry?

Post by as.it.is » Wed Apr 23, 2008 5:45 am

Hi Ralphwaldo,


It sounds like you just need to recognize what's happening to you for what it is , and it's tough if your awareness does not know exactly what it is , but I think you are suffering from TMS - Tension Myositis Syndrome...


I been listening and studying the PON for about 1 year now and recently I've had , overwhelming feelings of panick , insonmia and worry ..( very strong energy of the pain body)


I used PON and knew what it was , I knew in my mind it was the pain body but I would let myself identify with it, I could sense the painbody kept coming stronger sometimes with memories from previous experiences , for example , it would rise in my consciousness as a memory of a panic that I just felt in the morning and it would trigger the cycle all over again..

The pressure was too intense and I started researching the internet and found a great website that if you go through this website and intengrate what you already know from ET , I can almost guarantee you will be cured, go check this website go through some of the videos on the page's first link and you will realize what goes on in your body , you will see how powerful your mind is . I can suggest to you to keep a great attitude that you will get better and I know you will and you will see how pain likes to perpetuate in your body , I will stop writting and go check it out and integrate the painbody with this TMS in your awareness and you will be cured.

I'm cured now because anytime is arises I see for what it is , I can't identify with it and you will see how you identify with it VERY IMPORTANT, nothing has any power over your body if you shine the light of cosciousness to it. , after I found this website: http://www.yourpainisreal.com/

Let me know if you have any questions . I talk to you when you are cured.
When you awake it will be your biggest regret.

ralphwaldo
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Apr 19, 2008 8:00 pm

Re: how to stop chronic worry?

Post by ralphwaldo » Thu Apr 24, 2008 2:07 am

Sighclone wrote:RW -

Eckhart spoke tonight on Oprah about the need for more time for Awareness to smoke out old habits - in this case, drinking and eating for one of the callers. Hang in there...

Andy
Thanks, Andy.

-RW

ralphwaldo
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Apr 19, 2008 8:00 pm

Re: how to stop chronic worry?

Post by ralphwaldo » Thu Apr 24, 2008 2:35 am

WhoAmI wrote: I would suggest noticing how you referred to stopping and observing as "success".
Since there's no failure here, success is also non-existent. Mind-borne division only :-)
I guess "stopping" is not the best word, but what I meant was pausing and witnessing the emotion or sensation, rather than just getting caught up in it and letting it spiral out of control. Which is just another way of saying be present.
WhoAmI wrote: I was referring to "non-doing", which I understand to be completely different from "stopping".
It's just that when that urge to flee comes, I find that effectively it all boils down to "what do I do to make this unpleasant/awful/born-of-Satan experience stop?".
Yes, exactly. It's very tough to bring presence and real awareness to a situation that is chaotic and/or awful. But that's where practice comes in, which makes me that that daily meditation is so vital.
WhoAmI wrote: To me, "non-doing" is just tossing a question into the abyss (either verbally or just in sense-experiential sort of way): "What happens if instead of doing something I just do nothing and let everything be as it is?". I find it to be a very powerful question, especially when asked with a curious intent. Come what may - anger, resistance, the urge to stop, actual stopping. Let it all be. I find that when the question is posed "I" go into watching in a visceral, very direct manner.
In other words, just bring pure awareness to the situation, right? No judging, labeling, or analysis.
WhoAmI wrote: I've just discovered that in the last week or so and it's made a big difference in WhoAmI's life :-)
(and if you're looking for clear teaching about letting things be as they are - Adyashanti is a great place to look [adyashanti.org]).
Good for you!
WhoAmI wrote: This is a great forum (and thanks go to Eric and our lovely moderators for facilitating it).
You'll find most people here are accepting and willing to lend an insight whenever you wish for one.
So far, couldn't agree more. I hope I can return the favor some day.
WhoAmI wrote: One thing about this seeming process of becoming "more aware" (as if that's possible, but from the person's perspective it seems like a process very much, doesn't it? :-)) or "growing in presence" - it may present bumpers and slumps along the way.
Yes, I hear you. In my experience, there doesn't appear to be much of a clear pattern or progression, which is partly what torments me, but... one day at a time.
WhoAmI wrote: It's tricky business - one can't let everything be with the intention of changing something as a result. Can you see how subtle this is? Recognizing this as it happens (over and over again at first, probably...) can be a great, liberating realization!
Yes, subtle. Goes back to acceptance and non-resistance. I guess one has to create the optimal circumstances for healing and growth, while not "trying" or "fighting" or "striving".

Thanks a million, WhoAmI! Much gratitude...

-RW

ralphwaldo
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Apr 19, 2008 8:00 pm

Re: how to stop chronic worry?

Post by ralphwaldo » Thu Apr 24, 2008 2:42 am

Hi as.it.is,

Thanks for the info. I've actually read one of John Sarno's books about TMS, so I know all about it and I think about the general principle behind it whenever I feel unexplained pain in my body. I've not had any sudden epiphanies with this stuff but I do think it helped me get rid of some back and neck pain issues, and has allowed me to view other physical symptoms or sensations as part of something larger. I believe there is some overlap between the ideas behind TMS and what ET is talking about – especially the ideas about emotions as physical manifestations of your mental state, and how shining the light of consciousness, as you say, helps to uncover the demons behind the pain.

Thanks,
RW

WhoAmI
Posts: 54
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2007 11:01 am

Re: how to stop chronic worry?

Post by WhoAmI » Thu Apr 24, 2008 1:49 pm

ralphwaldo wrote:
WhoAmI wrote: To me, "non-doing" is just tossing a question into the abyss (either verbally or just in sense-experiential sort of way): "What happens if instead of doing something I just do nothing and let everything be as it is?". I find it to be a very powerful question, especially when asked with a curious intent. Come what may - anger, resistance, the urge to stop, actual stopping. Let it all be. I find that when the question is posed "I" go into watching in a visceral, very direct manner.
In other words, just bring pure awareness to the situation, right? No judging, labeling, or analysis.
It's funny business, talking about the untalkable :-)
That's why there's always room for clarification (on both sides), until we are more-or-less convinced that we understand one another, or just grow tired and start another thread :lol:

Judging, labeling and analysis may very well happen.
And when there's remembering of it - just watch them and see what happens.

And who is judging, analyzing, labeling? Can you find him?
RW wrote:
WAI wrote: This is a great forum (and thanks go to Eric and our lovely moderators for facilitating it).
You'll find most people here are accepting and willing to lend an insight whenever you wish for one.
So far, couldn't agree more. I hope I can return the favor some day.
No need. By being here and discussing this you're already contributing to this forum's existence. Doesn't matter much if you're asking or answering.
If some day you find yourself more answering than asking, great.
Just don't sell short your contribution thus far :-)
RW wrote: In my experience, there doesn't appear to be much of a clear pattern or progression, which is partly what torments me, but... one day at a time.
Probably 'cause there isn't a clear pattern/progression in most cases.
Seems like a hurdle, but it's actually your lab, to experiment and inquire into...
RW wrote: Thanks a million, WhoAmI! Much gratitude...
No prob. Much pleasure.

User avatar
Kato
Posts: 20
Joined: Sat Apr 26, 2008 1:08 am
Contact:

Re: how to stop chronic worry?

Post by Kato » Sun Apr 27, 2008 6:07 am

Yes, you have had stressful and difficult experiences. Your choice to share those experiences with a community of people maintaining presence is a wise decision. It is the beginning.

You cannot choose to stop worrying. You can only bring worry into the presence. Worry is like a shadow and presence is the light. In the light, the shadow will disappear. At first make friends with your worry. Do not resist. When he comes to you allow him and welcome him with love and acceptance. When you notice his arrival say "Ah, it's my good friend worry! Welcome! What do you have for me today?" Do this every time and very soon you will be surprised that he will no longer visit.

Kato
"The Inner Voice of Kato Kaizen"
http://katokaizen.wordpress.com/

Post Reply