I should start this post by declaring that I am a huge worrier. I have always been a worry wart, ever since I was young. I’d like to contribute my worry-some ways to an incredibly rich and active imagination, but I know there are other things at work. A thought that has been recently confirmed for me through my work in teaching reiki.
In a recent reiki class, my student and I did an exercise involving meditation, self-reflection, and the five principles of reiki. Through this particular exercise I connected deeply to my habit of worry and discovered that somewhere in my existence and experience of life, I connected worry with intelligence and preparedness. At some point, I learned that worrying about future outcomes signified both attention to detail and concern over those details. I learned that caring meant worrying. I learned that being smart entailed attempting to circumvent all of the “what ifs.” I learned that to worry was to engage my intelligence. The problem with all of these beliefs is that they are not helpful. Regardless of whether or not I believe them to be true, I know, through my experiences, that they do not serve me. I was thrilled that I had discovered this connection that my mind had made and that I continued to reinforce every time I let my worry get the best of me. I was able to pinpoint why I had become attached to worry.
The good news is that our minds are elastic- they have a plasticity to them that enables us to break and remake connections between emotions, outcomes, memories, and experiences. Because we can re-wire any connection that no longer serves us, we are able to recreate our operating systems in a way that will prove to be more skillful.
Why worry? Worry does not change the future. Worry does not change the past. All worry does is rob us of our peace in the present moment. It is ok to think about the future and to prepare for a variety of outcomes, but once the preparedness is over, and the work has been done, it is not time for worry to creep in. It is time to let go of expected outcomes and accept the not knowing. Worry is not intelligence. Acceptance is.
Once we are able to discover the connections that our minds have made, we can decide if they are useful or not. It is true that to a certain extent we are a product of circumstance, but it is also true that circumstance does not have to define us. We have the very real ability to define for ourselves who we want to be, what we want to engage in, and how we want to feel. I for one would like to not worry, about a thing, and to truly believe that every little thing is gonna be alright. Because, as Prem Rawat says, “Life is too precious to be a struggle.”