Nature has classified food as conducive and non-conducive for every living organism. For example, if human beings consume a certain variety of cactus plant, they will die; whereas the same plant is consumed by camels for their survival. This fits into the famous adage “One’s poison is another’s food”. Anything in nature which is accepted by your constitution (body) is referred to as “conducive” and which is not, is termed as “non-conducive”. This concept of conduciveness and non-conduciveness will help me present to you the contents I wish to, here.
The term “conducive” and “non-conducive” is not only applicable to food, but to emotions as well, which we will discuss in this article and other forthcoming topics. The next question is who decided this and why? It is a difficult question to answer as these are the “Laws of nature” which cannot be questioned; Can we question why all living organisms die? We cannot, because “we don’t know the overall plan of the nature”. I am not using the term “God” and in its place using “Nature” as some atheists may not believe in God but will accept Nature which is the cosmic intelligence that runs this universe.
Anatomy of Emotions:
Let me try to clarify what are emotions before I deal with “Worry management” as it is very important to understand the anatomy of emotions. Ever since we are born till we die, a stream of thoughts run in our mind all the time both during waking and sleeping hours. Among various other things in life, we also do not have any control over the thought current in our mind. As Swami Chimayananda once said we can keep our limbs at rest for a while but not our mind, although both are part of our being! The “Dharma” of mind is to keep itself busy with thought current like “Dharma” of river is to keep the water current.
The emotions are the automatic response of the mind whenever an external stimulus reaches its bosom. If you frown at me, it forms a stimuli captured by my eyes and reaches my mind as an input and the response of the mind is “anger” which is one of the emotions. To sight an analogy, if you type a letter “A” in the keyboard of a computer, it forms an input which is converted as a digital signal, read by the computer and responded by the operating system. Here the input of keyboard is stimuli and the operating system is the mind which processes the stimuli. What is the big deal about learning this?
As we have defined “conducive and non-conducive foods”, we also have “conducive and non-conducive emotions”. For example “Love” and “compassion” are conducive (positive) emotions where as “Worry”, “Anger” etc are non-conducive (negative) emotions. The conducive emotions generate a healthy response from our body’s metabolism whereas the negative emotions lead to decaying effects of our body. Anger for example increases our heart beats and blood pressure and worry leads to stomach ulcer and tooth decay. Over and above destruction of our physical body, the negative emotions also destroy our relationships and hence need to be managed. I wish to discuss one of the negative emotions namely “Worry” in this article and continue with others in the forthcoming articles.
What is Worry?
What is worry? Let me attempt defining “worry” before proceeding with the investigation of its effects on the quality of our life. “Worry is an anxious thought we entertain anticipating a trouble in the future or regretting about an incident of the past”. If we agree with this definition, worry is connected with the unborn future or buried past!
Anatomy of Worry:
It appears that this concept of worry does not exist in the animal kingdom and it is an exclusive right of human beings! I would say it is a unique feature of human evolution as it requires higher intelligence to worry – namely the rationale! Like the feeling of upset, one cannot be productive when they are busy with the worrying thought. In order to appreciate why we are caught up with the habit of worry, we need to understand the anatomy of human personality.
The moment we are born, it is certain that we will die one day! Whether anything else is certain or not, death is certain. Due to the higher intelligence and fear of death, people live with a feeling of insecurity. Due to fear of unborn future, we go around aggrandizing wealth thinking that money will save us future calamities. All these have created a phobia of an un-born future making us to worry about our health, future of our children and so on.
Effect of Worry:
One of the modern day killers is the worry which has many destructive effects on human beings such as tooth decay, hypertension, stomach ulcer etc. How can a thought impact physical health? The physical body reacts according to the mental state. If you are anxious, you breathe faster and if you are cool or meditate, you breathe softly! The body and mind are so interconnected that one influences the other. William James, the greatest psycho-analyst of this century has demonstrated several experiments to show how body and mind respond to each other. Many of us succumb to this silent killer “Worry” without knowing what is happening within us.
Tips to master worry habit:
Live in a “Day tight Compartment”
Scientists have studied about the composition of our thoughts and found that we process an average of sixty thousand thoughts in our waking hours and out of which 80 percent are about our un-born future! Invariably they are anxious thoughts about future. In other words we spend 80% of our time in imagining worst things which might/might not happen in the future. This anxiety may be of bad health, safety of our children gone to school and so on. Invariably we find that 99% of the worst we visualized have never happened in reality! Even then we continue to entertain the worry thoughts helplessly.
We need to learn many things from the animal kingdom to improve our quality of life. In the animal kingdom there is no concept of past and future and the only reality is “present”. The animals are believed to be governed by their instincts; hunger, procreation, self-preservation and rest. As they don’t have the concept of self-awareness as we have, they do not know that they exist! As they do not recognize that they exist, they do not have an idea of death either. In other words, they have no fear of death as we human beings have. This fact leads to the conclusion that they have no desire to aggrandize wealth for securing their future like we do! If there is no concept of future, obviously there is no question of worrying about the same!
If the scientists could find an instrument which can study the pattern of thinking of an animal, we will find that they have no worry thoughts. Even when we examine their behaviour we find that they have no anxiety about their next meal as they are never denied of it as the nature has planned to provide them when they need it! It may not be an exaggeration if I say that they are more confident about the love and compassion of the creator than human beings . The tips is “Learn to live one day at a time”
Trust and surrender to the Nature (God):
In one of the discourses, Sukabodananda refers to the kindness of the creator by referring to the formation of the milk in the mother’s breast when the child is just delivered. We notice that the food nature creates is just-in-time and ideal for the infant to consume and survive. There cannot be a better example than this to re-assure us that nature provides what we need than what we want! A true surrender to the almighty (Nature or God) is the best way to come out of the worry habit. I am of the view “we should not worry about that which cannot be understood and controlled – example “death”. Tips: Surrender to the Lord, he knows the best for you! Whenever you start a worry thought, tell your mind that you have taken the role of the Lord!
Develop a “Habit”
To start with, we need to understand that worrying is a habit like smoking or drinking. In order to manage anything in life, we need to know more about the subject we are trying to manage. If you wish to come out of the habit of worrying, you need to know more about “Worry”. As Stephen Covey said, formation of habits needs three ingredients; Desire, knowledge and skill. Most important ingredient is “Desire” to form a new habit and once it is taken care, the next is “Knowledge” about worry. One of the great thinkers has said that “Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due”. What a great statement it is? Worry is like paying interest on the money which we have never borrowed! This implies that majority of the worst outcomes that we imagined have never happened in reality, but we have already paid the interest by draining our precious time and energy worrying about it! Another great quote I remember is “Worry is like a rocking chair; it keeps you busy but takes you nowhere!”
Beware of “Thought Attack”
Having mastered the Desire and knowledge, the next in habit formation is “skill”. To develop a habit of eliminating the worry thoughts is to know when they attack you. As we have heart attack, we have to be aware of “Thought attack”. Whenever we get busy to encourage the worry thoughts about the future, we have to stop entertaining our mind by substituting with a positive assertion saying that the present moments are more valuable for you rather than anxiety of the un-born future!
Allocate a “Worry Hour”
Dr. Richard Carlson in his famous book “Don’t sweat the small stuff; it is all the small stuff” suggests an allotment of “worrying hour in a week”. Tell your mind when the worrying thought hits you that you will take it up in the worrying hour and not now! If you really look at, all these suggestions are nothing but re-education of the mind imitating the animals. If you like, you can surrender all your anxiety to the divine which has brought you here providing the ambience for you to survive in your mother’s womb and created the food you needed when you were just born!
Wish you a worry less life ahead.
· Worry is one of those negative states of a being which ruins your present moment making you ineffective.
· All negative thoughts including worry affect your heath leading to disease. Disease is “Dis” “Ease” with the nature – non-alignment with the plan of the nature.
· Learn to live in the present moment like an animal. Don’t underestimate animals as they have better quality of life as they obey law of nature better than us.
· Worry is a habit like smoking and drinking which can be changed at your will if you desire.
· Don’t wait for the doctor to say that you are terminally ill to change your habits! The will-power what you get that time is already there within you even now.
· New habits can be made if you have desire, knowledge and develop skills.
· By re-education of mind, you can eliminate the worrying habits over a period of time.
· Don’t throw away your invaluable present moment by worrying about an un-born future.
· Remember 99% of the worst future you imagined have never happened! Why continue this wrong habit of worrying?
I Surrender to my Lord for flowing through me to write this article.