I’ve always wondered what living without worries and fears would feel like. I’ve always envied those who only worry when imminent danger is approaching, or in those moments when they need to act to protect themselves.
Part of me has always had worry or fear as a companion, and sadly it’s not something you can simply change that easily. You can’t tell yourself to stop feeling emotions or thinking. The mind never listens to you, and it feels like that is its job to protect you. The mind exists for a purpose: to keep us safe, and that goes way back to our ancestors, who really had to live in a flight-and-flight mode in order to survive.
So when you feel safe, when you don’t have much to worry about, guess what happens. The mind reminds you that you have to think of something to protect yourself. It doesn’t mean to cause you any harm. It just wants to help.
Although we cannot change the content of our thoughts and the emotions we carry, we can change the way we approach them. Psychologists, spiritual teachers, monks have said it for decades: we have to learn to stay present.
However, for some the expression “stay present” can be an overrated concept. But how can we stay present with suffering and fear without tearing our hair out?
The first step to experience real presence is acceptance.
By accepting that we are worry-heads and that it is okay to be like that, we are opening the door to liberate ourselves from the constant pressure that we have to change. I always have to remind myself of that, because when worry comes, I tend to instantly criticize myself for doing “that” again. By “that” I mean letting myself feeling trapped in incessant, useless worries.
Then comes the second step: the role of the observer.
I strongly suggest that you read “The Untethered Soul — The Journey Beyond Yourself” by Michael A. Singer. In that incredible book, Singer teaches us how to play the role of the observer. How to watch the emotions and thoughts by realizing when they come and they leave. I confess I had tried to do this before and it was very hard — but Singer’s book was really on point.
When you start becoming aware of your own thoughts and emotions, you truly see them for what they are: energy that passes by. So be aware of how your chest feels right now. Any emotions? Any tension, tightness in that area? Any thoughts crossing your mind? It’s okay to feel and think of anything — just sit in the “seat of the observer.” That was a great analogy that Singer makes in his book — and that was also a life savior for me. Anytime my mind starts with its drama, I imagine sitting on the seat of the observer and I loudly say in my mind, “Hello, I am here,” to reinstate that the “true me” is now present.
You are the one who observes your thoughts and emotions. This is the TRUE meaning of staying present and the core of meditation. The state of observing yourself — not blocking any thoughts or blaming yourself for not being calm — is true freedom.
You soon realize that the observer (the “true” you) is a very calm and still being. Stillness reigns. And you’re saved until the next moment when you start engaging, believing your thoughts, and feeding your emotions. When that moment comes (it will always return, we’re only humans), don’t judge yourself. Do it all over again. Take a seat and observe.
The final step comes right after you have mastered the concept of becoming the observer: surrendering.
Acceptance is not the same as surrendering. Accepting is being aware that there is nothing you can do to change something, but surrendering is placing yourself in the hands of the Divine. It’s letting go of all outcomes, as you know that the best will happen to you.
When you are in that state, understand that you are one with Creation. By believing you are part of divine consciousness and connected to all, fear subsides. This is when you can truly connect with your faith. Your faith cannot be strong enough if you don’t accept yourself as you are, you are not observing and acting like your true self, and if you are not surrendering. And I don’t mean faith in a religious way — one can have faith in the universe and their connection to it and not even believe God exists. One can still surrender without a religion or belief.
In this state of surrendering, stick to your own beliefs. In my case, I always feel the presence of guides or divine beings around me after I observe myself for a while. It’s actually only then when I feel connected to something more powerful.
When worry consumes me, I tell my divine consciousness, which knows me and everyone around me, to take care of any situations that concern me. Then I choose the “non-action.” Instead of doing more, I let go of my need to control the situation I’m involved in. I understand that letting go can be more powerful. And when a course of action is needed for my own protection and benefit, the idea comes at the right time and I do it with an open heart — not ruled by fear.
If you are about to make important decisions and feel paralyzed with fear or worry, don’t do anything until trying those methods. Let go first. Ask for guidance and you will know when to act, as well as know when to let go.
It all starts with acceptance of where you are now. Observe how you are feeling. Say “hello, I am here” all the time to keep yourself in check and to not let your mind roam free with thoughts and “solutions” to your problems. This experience will make you feel like you have another body. It’s an incredible phenomenon to watch the chaos in your body and mind with a sense of detachment (read Singer’s book and you will learn that). Then trust that you are always guarded, always one with divine consciousness. Then surrender and dive into your true self.