Eckhart Tolle teaches that the thinking mind is very dysfunctional and most humans live in a state of deep seated lack. This sense of lack manifests differently for different people. For me it has always been anxiety.
That my mind is still dysfunctional was abundantly clear to me last Sunday morning. I am completely off all anxiety and depression medication (except on an as needed basis) And it’s easy to remember why I went on it them in the first place, all those years ago, in my teens. I still live with such a negative mind.
It feels like the goal of my mind is to keep me in fear and anxiety, to keep me guarded and cut off. It’s awful when it kicks up.
Take last Sunday. It was a perfectly glorious June morning. The sun was out, birds were singing, you couldn’t ask for more. And almost as soon as I woke up from my restful sleep, the thoughts started:
Images of the past, where I used to be so afraid of the summer. Images of the future and the horror stories they project.
And then I remember what Eckhart Tolle teaches, You are not your mind. Don’t take your thoughts so seriously.
It’s very easy to forget this, and get sucked in, once the anxious mind starts.
He also teaches how the mind loves to pull you in, and that negative thoughts are very seductive and easily overcome and take you over.
Once I start thinking negative thoughts, negative emotions are felt, and this in turn fuels more and more negative thoughts. It’s that vicious circle.
That is basically how the negative mind stays in place, and the result (for me) is eventually I always used to reach for a pill because I couldn’t take how shitty and scared I felt in my head and how horrible it made me feel on the outside- agitated, restless, isolated, ill at ease.
But all we ever have to deal with is THIS MOMENT. The past is nothing, nothing to be concerned with. The future is also nothing. There is no reality beyond the present moment. And yet, the anxious mind tends to dwell in both the past and future, confusing them with the present, making the present moment a living hell.
I am forever grateful to understand this today. And that is how I have found a way out of anxiety and panic.
My focus today is to stay in the present. To consciously choose NOT to dwell in thoughts of past and future, ESPECIALLY when I am in a vulnerable state, like on Sunday morning.
Weekend mornings have always been a trigger for me to feel stressed and overwhelmed, and when I woke up on Sunday it just came over me, seemingly out of the blue.
But it’s wasn’t really out of the blue. Eckhart Tolle also describes how every human has a Pain Body- stored up energy fueled by negative emotions from the past. The Pain Body periodically takes you over and becomes you. When the Pain Body is active, you know it because you immediately feel bad. For me, when the world looks dark and menacing, that is a clear sign my Pain Body has taken over.
The way out of this pain is to go through it. To not resist it. To feel it completely with every cell of my being. It is not pleasant. But once I do it, the suffering transforms into peace.
It’s like the first time I faced something that caused a panic attack without resisting. It’s that hard. Every cell of your body wants to retreat, run, take a pill, do something, ANYTHING to get away from the feeling.
It took a few hours last Sunday to get out of my funk and nervousness. I did what I always do when the fear and dread overtake me: I sat with the pain, I got myself moving a little (to counteract the early morning cortisol in my body), and I did my very best to keep my attention laser focused on what was going on in the present.
And once the pain was gone I felt such relief. I was so grateful and happy, I could have cried. I felt safe and at home in my self once again.
I’ve only been dis-identified from my mind since 2014. But what a change it has made in my life. I no longer suffer from anxiety and panic attacks the way I used to. I no longer depend completely on chemicals to keep my from feeling my frightening emotions.
It may sound like a small thing to not be taken over by the mind. But if you’ve ever suffered with dreadful racing thoughts like I have, not living at the mercy of an anxious mind is actually the biggest thing in the world.
And when the Pain Body comes over me now, it is not as often and doesn’t last as long.
I keep myself healthy by listening to Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie. They both help me so much.
On Sunday I did a Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet on a thought that was troubling me (this is from Byron Katie, she teaches this on her website at thework.com):
Summer is scary
Is it true? Yes.
Can you absolutely know it’s true that Summer is scary?
How do you react, what happens when you believe the thought that Summer is scary?
I see images of past- school being out, the kids having lots of free time and me feeling pressured to entertain them. Being here in the neighborhood, seeing next door having massive party and feeling really weird that we weren’t invited. Being hot and muggy in the house, expensive air conditioning. Feel like I should have plans and I don’t have any. Hot at night, uncomfortable, exposed in closed. Live in a fearful way. I feel contracted, anxious, isolated from humanity, not at home, alienated, horrified.
And who would you be without the thought?
I would be sitting here on a peaceful Sunday morning, listening to birds and feeling the cool morning air in peace.
Turnaround to the opposite:
Summer is safe
Now find reasons this is as true or truer than the original statement:
This morning after meditation I noticed the delicate blooms and stems on the bushes on the back patio. How fragile they are, and they grow without fear, without stress. Even a blade of grass. Reality is safe. 🙂
Last night walking around WalMart with Buddy and Bob, seeing the long shadows of the setting sun. The lovely wood smells of Home Depot. Warm out but ok. Nice people passing by saying hi to Buddy. Reality is safe. 🙂
My thinking is scary. Yes! It tells stories about how this most beautiful time of year is to be feared, how I should live very safe and carefully, when the opposite is just as true!!
Life is so glorious and beautiful when it is experienced and felt and lived, and not blurred out anxiety and panic.
So grateful for the progress I’ve made. I never thought I’d be in a place where I could be ok and happy with my life. But it seems these days I am. What a gift.
I understand today why people die from drugs and alcohol, and why they sometimes take their life. Living with a mind that turns in on itself is hell from which there seems no escape. I am forever grateful I have found a way out. That I have some peace in my life today. It is the best thing in the world. I wish the same for all of you.
I wish you peace,