Overcoming Anxiety, Terror, and Sadness
A woman who had just arrived at the meditation center said that although she was feeling elated and happy she was also experiencing some anxiety and terror. She inquired how to overcome these painful emotions.
How does the mind creates these emotions, seemingly out of nowhere; there is no real imminent danger, yet the human being experiences these emotions. Oftentimes, these feelings are not useful and create suffering. An imagined danger most often does not manifest and even if it does there is most likely not much that can be done. Holding on to feelings of fear and worry for extended periods of time drains energy and does not effectively deal with future situations. If there is something that can be done then consider and make your decisions, then do it. If not, why keep allowing yourself to believe these feelings?
You are already well on your way by focusing your awareness on the way your mind functions by dwelling on and believing in pain and suffering. By being in touch with the observer of the mind this allows awareness of your emotions. You have discovered the way out. How? You have separated your Knower from that which is known. You have become aware that you are the observer of your mind—not the thoughts and feelings. As Swami-ji expresses, “The observer is free yet it has assumed to be a body. It is identified.”
Consider the concept of “identification.” When you are asleep there is no terror nor anxiety. What is different in deep sleep? In sleep, you are not identified with your mind—you are asleep to the mind. However, you are still alive and breathing and your bodily functions are perfectly automatic.
Question: What do you want to do as a human being? If you want to get rid of fear or terror, then purify your system. Change the destructive manner in which your system functions and suffering will transform and in many ways will fall away.
When you bring in the mantra, I am immortal, I am blissful, amaram hum madhuram hum, you become de-identified with your mind—attending the mantra rather than your thoughts. This highest awareness gained through focusing on the mantra acknowledges that you are pure, free, and forever—you are not your thoughts. This allows de-identification with the mind and thoughts. You become aware that you are not the body, just like you know you are not a table nor someone else’s body. Then, the body can experience emotions but you, the Knower, the pure being remains free.
This is not easy work and not for everyone, it is for those with an intense desire to be free from suffering. This is the permanent way out. Meditate on the Knower who is eternal and forever free. Then, perfect discrimination and detachment unfolds, called by the Sage Patanjali—vivek and vairaagya. Vivek (discrimination) is the knowledge that I am never born and never die. Vairaagya (detachment) is the knowledge that even though the things, forms, and diverse experiences in the world bring about some enjoyment—as everything comes from the source that is all bliss—the unchanging bliss is only ever-present at the source of all thoughts and actions. Therefore, when you take the time to read this knowledge and meditate on it, you bring about a total sense of satisfaction—not dependence on anything else to provide you with bliss. The knowing that the bliss contained in form is ever-changing and that inner bliss remains constant can be experienced directly through practice.
Another woman asked Swami-ji about the sadness she experiences as she practices. She now knows that what she believed to be true and what she had desired in her life before, does not bring her the true happiness she seeks.
Why is this practice creating sadness?
If a person believes he or she is only a body and a mind with thoughts, the nature of the mind is that it looks outside itself for joy and personal satisfaction. When the Self or Pure Being realizes the mind and thoughts have been incorrect, the mind often feels saddened. It is like losing a relationship with someone very dear—your very own mind.
Swami-ji said, “When the Self obeys the mind then the mind feels pleased. When Self is separated from the mind then the mind feels sad and the Self feels liberated.”
Through the power of listening to the knowledge (shravan), the knowing of your true Self awakens—that which has always been liberated. Temporal sadness of the mind can never touch you. Those who practice amaram hum madhuram hum become free.
Swami-ji also answered her by saying, “Then you come to know that your mind is not you, so you do not give consideration to your mind.” Just as you take good care of your house or your car—though you know it is not you—use your body and mind like a tool, taking good care of it but not letting it take control of you, the Self, who is always free from the body and the mind.
PRACTICE FOR THIS WEEK
- Notice if your mind moves into thoughts that create a sense of anxiety and fear and remind yourself that you are the Knower or Observer of those thoughts and feelings. Then repeat the mantra instead of those thoughts and notice what happens. When thoughts come back, repeat the mantra again. Make a note of how many times this happens throughout the week and send an email with your observations and findings.
- Observe if sadness comes to you. Any sense of loss may create sadness. Who is sad? Tell yourself that it is your mind and thoughts that create sadness and not You, the Knower of the mind and thoughts. Repeat this to yourself when You observe that the mind feels sad:
Who is it that is sad? It is only a thought in my mind or feeling in my body, it is not Me, the Self, the Knower. The Self is forever, pure, and free.