We’ve all had feelings of anxiety and trepidation about the future. Worrying about upcoming events is the norm in our day in age, but we don’t have to take it for granted. Spiritual growth means challenging the standard patterns of thought and seeking alternative perspectives that open the heart.
These feelings of consternation are like an unwelcomed guest. We may be thinking about a future trip, or meeting, or occasion and there’s an immediate sense of apprehension. While that in itself is interesting, what’s really worthy of a closer look is our reaction to that unease. We tend to contract, try to ignore, or suppress it. In short, our reaction is negative.
The first thing to realize is that all of this anxiety can be boiled down to fear. There is some aspect of the future that we fear, and that instills the worry. We play out all of these scenarios and fuss about each one. Of course, that is the mainstay of the ego, which is always trying to self-preserve and avoid any difficulty. That’s fine if one’s aim is to cruise through life and only seek comfort, but spirituality is a different path.
If we are to cultivate our inner evolution and grow as embodied spirits, we need to face our conflicts. We cannot evolve if we have buried our issues, and anyway they do not stay buried. Life makes sure that unresolved themes sprout up unexpectedly, and that is why unhealthy patterns crop up again and again, until we address them.
So, if we are to de-condition, we have to change the game on how we react to fear and all of its progenies. It is possible to invite that unwelcomed guest in? What would happen if we looked directly at whatever is bothering us, and asked, “what are you trying to tell me?” What would happen if we sat with our fear for a time? Are we capable of showing love to our inner unwelcomed guests?
To put this into practice, take some deep breaths and sit quietly, and begin by opening your heart. Instill a sense of a loving embrace. Now slowly turn your attention to whatever is troubling you and try to see it with eyes of love. Be silent and let it speak. Do not judge or opine, simply try to listen. If anxiety floods in, then let go and say you’ll be back. Stop the practice and come back when you are grounded in love again.
Some fears will dissolve quickly, and others will linger on. It’s just a question of our conditioning and how deep the roots go. For serious psychological issues, we should seek help of course. But we can at least begin this practice with our everyday anxieties. Impurities in the skin have to surface, and then be cleared. It’s the same with our conditioning. Perhaps that’s what life is trying to do all the time – to present us with situations that reflect our inner conditioning; these are opportunities so that we can bring balance and equanimity.