Living in the Now – Ending the Worry/Stress Habit

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 :)
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barbarasher
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Living in the Now – Ending the Worry/Stress Habit

Post by barbarasher » Sat Feb 19, 2005 10:03 am

I run a business, I have many employees, and many customers, and a family and hobbies and friends and, and, and …

I have a worry habit, which is one of the main factors that brought me to this spiritual enlightenment quest, so that I can rid myself of it.

I immediately attached to The Power of Now material and focused on reading all the books and listening to many of the CDs since I recognize that this is a portal to an answer.

This quest that I have been on for a year and a half, has brought significant improvement in my life, in my feelings inside, in my life satisfaction and in my relationship with my husband, older daughter, mother and father. It has affected a variety of things for the better even to the point where I stopped a bulimic habit of 18 years without any help except the books that I read and the CDs that I listened to.

But, I still worry about work. Before the hi-tech market went bust 4 years ago I worried about having more. When it went bust, I worried for three years about not having enough. Now I worry about having too much. Worry, worry, worry, stress, upset.

Help!

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Post by kiki » Sat Feb 19, 2005 8:08 pm

Hi barbara,

See how ego works? First there is worry about not having enough, and when that doesn't happen the worry morphs into having too much. Worry is an egoic strategy.

May I suggest that you feel the worry completely without labeling it as such - give it room to be there without trying to get rid of it. Look directly at it and notice what the worry arises in. Has what it arises in been affected by worry in any way? Are 'you' worried, or has worry arisen for a while within awareness. Which is more real, the coming and going of worry, or the awareness it arises in?

The moment you recognize something as 'worry' has arisen, the freedom from worry is at hand - awareness has recognized it, and in that recognition a space has been created around it. You are that space, and so you are no longer tightly bound to the worry. Then observe the worry with no intention whatsoever - just watch what happens. By giving it the freedom to be there it will go away because egoic energy is no longer directed onto the worry and keeping it in place.

My best to you,
kiki

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Post by a_friend » Sat Feb 19, 2005 8:25 pm

wow, that is excellent. you have cured a serious disease, improved relationships, and increased the light in the world -- you're a miracle worker! I don't really know you or anything, but i have to say i feel very proud of you.

Now, about this worrying "stuff" -- don't worry about it! hehehe. Seriously, I used to be a chronic worrier. I stressed about everything. I even stressed about being so stressed all the time -- isn't that crazy?? I think I would even wear my anxiety as a sort of badge of honor -- as if the anxiety i experienced somehow made me more saintly or something. This all seems completely comical to me now. If you've read my other posts, you know I'm not the most "spiritually advanced" or "present" or conscious person here. But having been through a lifetime of anxiety and then cured myself of it, I feel comfortable responding to this.

First of all, I'm sure you've heard by now that anxiety is a product of projecting yourself into the future. thinking about different possible outcomes. not knowing what might happen tomorrow or next year. Of course, the answer is to simply "be present" -- you can exist no other time but now. easy right? to tell you the truth, while i know this to be true, it doesn't always do much for me. Or maybe its doing stuff for me and i just don't recognize it.

Anyway, here is what has worked for me. First of all, I started practicing a simple breath awareness meditation. I loved Breath Taking by Lorin Roche (you can find it on amazon) This guy is all about keeping it casual. Anyway, after i'd done that for a while, i found myself creating more space around the activities in my life. For example, if knew i had to be somewhere at 9p, i'd get there a little early and maybe take a few moments in the car to do nothing. In fact, i'd always give myself a few moments whenever switching from one task to another or from one place to another or from one conversation to another. Now, i know you're busy, I was too. I kept thinking, if i don't cram everything in until i'm 100% full, important things wouldn't get done! the universe would crumble without my being at 100% capacity! I started to see this mindset as a bit arrogant. The world doesn't depend on me. And if it does depend on me, then i better give them the best possible me. One that is without stress. One that emphasizes the quality of a few things done over the sheer quantity of thousands of things done poorly.

so the next thing that happened is that i asked my employer to allow me to keep my current position but to do it part time. I offered to work 2/3 of full time (25 hours) and in exchange i would get 2/3 of my current compensation. This was kind of a scary thing to do. I loved my job and my employer and everything. Plus, nobody i knew or worked with had ever tried such a thing. And because i knew the company's policy about keeping people happy and not keeping people that weren't happy, i knew that they would either accept my part-time offer or fire me. Well, they went for it. I felt like i had more than enough time to do everything i needed to do.

I must also warn you that there was a transitional period. Its not like you wake up one day and you have completely forgotten how to worry and life is perfect (well, unless your initials are ET). What happened for me is that rirst i figured out how to live without the drug of anxiety. And for several months, even though i was free of anxiety, i actually felt kind of uprooted. I felt like i was just floating around with no direction or purpose. But i just kept praying and meditating and eventually regular everyday things seemed to be kind of special. Normal stuff seemed to be a little more enjoyable. Eventually, i was just having a blast. Everything seemed alive and interesting and enjoyable.

Every once in a while, I'll start to experience some form of anxiety. The difference is that now i notice it right away. Instead of something i'd wear with a badge of honor, it seems more like a cold that i catch every once in a great while. It doesn't feel necessary, it feels wrong. I just watch it and wait it out, and know that things will be back to normal soon enough. Anyway, i know this was a long post, but i just couldn't help but share my experience here. and again, you're already doing a wonderful job, don't worry about the worrying ;)

a friend

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Post by summer » Sat Feb 19, 2005 9:57 pm

Dear kiki and friend,
thank you for your excellent posts. The quality of the advice on this board is like a gourmet Cordon Bleu feast! :D
And worry and anxiety are such key factors in human suffering that everyone can benefit.
One time I was 'looking' at worry, and saw that this conditioned response was convinced that 'worry' was the only thing that gets anything done
Is that crazy? Or is that crazy? :lol:

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Post by a_friend » Sat Feb 19, 2005 10:06 pm

i know summer! once i was able to watch the anxiety (or whatever), i realized that not only did i think i needed the anxiety to get stuff done, i truly believed this was absolutely essential to survival. i believed i would die without it. as soon as i saw this, i knew that it was insanity (and in fact, kind of funny), and it wasn't long before the anxiety sort of dissipated.

i'm learning to smile and sometimes laugh at the insanity of my life (er...i mean my ego). i have a friend who claims to be on a "seriousness reduction plan", and i think i'm on the same plan :)

a friend

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Post by Guest » Sat Feb 19, 2005 11:44 pm

I'll give you the best advice: Love your stress. Be happy with it. Accept that it's there and you'll see that is will slowly dissolve. But do not give up and fight it.

You can say that's fighting wrong with wrong, like hating your enemies. The best thing to do in a negative situation or with your enemies, is love them. Surrender. See them for who they really are, which is you too. We are all one. Don't believe it, know it. Fighting anything only gives power to the negative.

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Post by barbarasher » Sun Feb 20, 2005 6:21 am

Thank you all for your attentions. This is a painful thing. I would like a magic pill to kill it.

Is this a process? How long does it take? I can't stand it any more. (OK, I know that is a stupid questions). Try answering me anyway. Please.

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Post by a_friend » Sun Feb 20, 2005 9:37 am

i would certainly label my own personal experience a "process". clearly, tolle and others have basically experienced some kind of overnight magic bullet of sorts, but i wouldn't count on it. Of course, one single moment is all it takes, but i guess you gotta be willing to see it through no matter what. ya know?

a friend

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Post by kiki » Sun Feb 20, 2005 9:01 pm

Barbarasher wrote:Is this a process? How long does it take? I can't stand it any more.
From the individual's perspective it appears as a process. Asking how long it takes is a question arising from the ego, from the individual - that ego doesn't exist in reality because ego comes and goes; that which comes and goes can't be real. The awareness that ego arises in IS real because awareness is always present. So, awakening is already here, though it may not be apparent. Knowing this conceptually doesn't give much solace to the ego, however. But it may prompt you to relax more and not struggle so much.

At some point it hits you at a very deep level that the 'you' that you had believed yourself to be is not real, because that 'you' is seen as only a bunch of ideas, and how can you be an idea? - then there can be an even deeper relaxation back into the natural state, a more thorough letting go of one's idea of 'me.'

What does this 'seeing' of ego as ideas? - You as awareness. The 'ego idea' arises and awareness recognizes it (nonconceptually) as just that, an idea. Just as awareness creates 'space' around 'worry' (as was discussed in another thread) space is created around the egoic identity when awareness recognizes it as 'ego.' This space presents the opportunity for ego to be released even more completely, for even more space to be revealed around it.

Tolle has said, and I agree, that it is awareness that is doing the 'work', though it may be 'useful' for the individual to THINK that they can do something about it. Otherwise you may 'just as well sit on the couch and watch television and drink beer.'

So, if it is helpful to 'you', follow Tolle's pointers until the realization arises that there is really nothing for you to do - sounds strange, but when it happens you'll see the joke.

Getting fed up is a good sign. To me that indicates ego has come to the end of its rope and there can be a complete surrendering, since nothing that it does helps on a deep and permanent basis. The pattern in the past seems to be that reaching this point of frustration is important. Tolle has said this, (and this was the case with him) but he has also said that it doesn't have to be that way anymore, and I would agree with that.

There have been people who have awakened without the struggle, and it's happening more and more according to many teachers who talk about this. Why this is so I'm not sure, but I am convinced this is the case. But if it's not happening in your particular case I wouldn't worry about it, that is fruitless. Remember, awakening isn't personal, it doesn't happen to the ego. It is impersonal awareness aware of itself; awareness that is no longer identified with the ego entity as 'me.'

kiki
Last edited by kiki on Fri Oct 19, 2007 1:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Guest » Mon Feb 21, 2005 12:27 am

You are all right. My advice would be, to be the watcher. In other words, if you catch yourself getting mad, confused, stressed, depressed, anxious, just stop, maybe close your eyes and focus on your breathing first. Slowly, start watching what comes in your head/mind and let them be, but don't attach yourself to any thought. Let them go freely, like a river. Please try this, it works.

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Post by barbarasher » Mon Feb 21, 2005 6:18 am

Thank you

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Post by barbarasher » Sat Feb 26, 2005 7:36 am

This week I started listening to the 5 Tolle CDs I have from the beginning while I drive (I ordered some more from Amazon). It is amazing how you evolve over time and when listening to the same thing, hear, focus understand different aspects of it.

I particularly am helped by his talking about "doing one thing at a time". He said that this is the essence of Zen.

I typed a little card and placed it on my desk in front of my computer.

It says,

"Just do one thing at a time. No past, no future, just the Power of Now."

Do you think that this focusing on the one thing that I am doing is partially me controlling my mind so that it won't think about such things? And do you think that this is a skill that is developed with mediation? Katie Byron says that you can't control your thoughts, but that you should just not attach to them. I would rather do away with them as much as possible, and then if they do appear, not attach to them.

Suggestions, opinions please.

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Post by a_friend » Sat Feb 26, 2005 8:24 am

i *think* the more aware you become of your thoughts and actions, the more you realize that there is only 1 thing at a time that you *could* be thinking at any given moment. i don't think its really a matter of control, but of realization. so if you think you can do two things at once or be having two thoughts at once, in reality you are switching back and forth between these two thoughts or actions over and over again. and this is madness when you can really see it.

i feel like i have a somewhat partial understanding of this. one meditation practice i learned was to sit and focus on your breathing for a while, and then move your attention to a candle or a small light or something. and then move your attention back to your breathing. And then see if you can gradually move your attention from your breath to the light and back. see if you can spot the moment at which 50% of your attention is on breath and the other 50% is on the light. What does this feel like? The first time i practiced this meditation, i knew i had discovered something about awareness and time and what it meant to be divided over something and what it meant to be wholeheartedly focused on something.

this, of course, is a blessing and a curse. one of the things my wife can't stand about me is that i can't just watch tv (or drive or whatever) and listen to her at the same time. I really have to stop what i'm doing in order to give her attention, and i have to stop giving her attention to do anything else. but i don't think its the worst personal defficiency -- its not like i leave the toilet set up ;)

a friend

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Post by erict » Sat Feb 26, 2005 12:50 pm

Hi Barbara,

Worrying has been a major source of suffering in my life, until I realized that I have a choice about this matter. Let me share with you what helps me overcome this dysfunctional mental habit.

What is worrying?

Worrying is being afraid of something that has not happened yet. I guess the more probable the troublesome event, the more intense the worrying. But in it's essence, worrying is all about fear.

This reminds me of a quote by George Eliot that I strongly related to: "Nothing is as good as it seems beforehand". I see this express itself repeatedly in my life in relation to things I deeply crave for. I don't like all-inclusive rules, but I believe it's true that most things we crave for are a lot more pleasurable/wonderful/magnificent etc. in our minds than they actually are. I've become aware of many times when I experienced strong craving for certain objects or experiences, and when I finally had them... yes, they may have been pleasurable and wonderful, but never to such a degree as they seemed in my mind when I was craving them.

Anyway. The reason I started talking about this is because I just realized that just as with things we deeeeeply desire, things that we strongly fear are almost always not as horrible as they seem in our minds... Nothing is as bad as it seems beforehand :D

If you did not fear, you would not worry. So when you realize that there isn't (almost) anything to fear, you will stop worrying. But since worrying seems to arise from beyond our intentions, as a very persistent and forceful mental habit that almost forces itself upon us at times, fighting it is no good.

With milder worries, it may be enough simply to become aware of them as they appear and choose to stop them each time, just as you’d do with any other irritating habit. But worries that are rooted in stronger fears require a different approach.

I feel very strongly that a major part of true inner freedom is to fear nothing. Again, I dislike all-inclusive rules, but it has been my experience that: fears are hollow and illusory mental/emotional constructions. I understand that me saying that there is nothing to fear, that fears are hollow and illusory doesn’t help much to a person who does not yet see through them. It is something that has to be known experientially. I came to believe that fears are illusory after repeatedly having what I feared intensely happen. And once it happened, I would see that “oh well, that wasn’t so horrible!”. Most times when something I feared happened, I discovered that there wasn’t anything at all to fear.

I spent months worrying, and being afraid of something that in the end didn’t even happen! How much I suffered is beyond words. How insane is that? But actually most people do this all the time, just on a smaller scale. Just become aware how many times you worry about something, and it doesn’t happen. And the few times that it does happen, it usually turns up to be okay in the end. It seems that the average person spends a great portion of his life worrying over things that have nothing to do with reality.

Wow, that was a lot of babbling. In short, whenever I catch my mind worrying over something, I do any or all of the following:

:arrow: Remind myself that this may not even happen (and how stupid of me would it be to feel bad about something that won’t happen in the end)

:arrow: Bring my attention back into the present moment, and ask myself “What is wrong right now?”

:arrow: Remind myself that if I want to be happy, I have to live my life one step at a time, one moment at a time, and not get caugh up in potential future scenarios, unless for practical reasons

:arrow: Try to make peace with that which I fear, to accept it...
"Be sincere; don't ask questions out of mere interest. Ask dangerous questions—the ones whose answers could change your life."

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Post by heidi » Sat Feb 26, 2005 4:20 pm

Worrying about something that may never happen is like paying interest on money you may never borrow.
(author unknown)
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