Have you noticed the power and magical quality we give to worry? For many people, not worrying is equated being uncaring or naïve. Michael, my partner, has told me on many occasions, “Don’t worry; it will all work out.” I would always reply, “Yes, but how?” He would say, “I don’t know, but I know it will.”
Worry has been the bane of my existence. During a spiritual practice that I recently engaged in with two friends, I realized that worry disconnects me from the happiness and serenity that are in my heart.
Our practice consisted of ten life-affirming statements. Starting with one statement each day, we repeated the process four times, thus doing forty rounds in ten days. Each day we wrote out one statement and then meditated on it, journaled about it, and shared with one another what came up.
We wrote about what we understood about the statement, what we didn’t understand, what we accepted, and what we were struggling with. There were days when I felt quite resistant to the statements, but over time I noticed my heart opening to the practice of being more relaxed and in the flow of a loving, divine presence.
Through this practice I found two powerful antidotes to fear and worry. The heart of happiness is curiosity and optimism.
Curiosity is an antidote to fear. When I truly want to know more about something I feel alive, looking into the future with a question on my mind. I’m occupied by a state of wonder rather than worry. It is like taking a deep breath of fresh air. Curiosity has lightness to it; it lets in the light. The deep breath of curiosity oxygenates my blood which brings oxygen to my brain and helps me think more creatively and be more imaginative. Curiosity helps me be a pilgrim of possibility.
When I start to catch myself spiraling down into fear and contraction, I say to myself, “Pull, up, pull up, be curious, not afraid.” I remind myself not to waste time or energy wallowing in the paralyzing force of fear. Moving into a state of curiosity is where I can more effectively deal with the daily challenges that pop up.
Optimism is a perfect partner to curiosity and is an antidote to worry. If the in-breath brings oxygen into my body, optimism is like the blood that carries the oxygen. If I am worried I become tense. In fact worry has a negative physiological affect on my body as well as my mind and spirit. Through time this can be quite debilitating. Optimism, on the other hand, is the life-blood of my soul.
These two keys, curiosity and optimism, keep me healthy and happy. Being in a state of fear and worry is like contracting pneumonia. It stops my breath, which, in turn slows my blood flow, deprives my brain of oxygen, and my blood becomes stagnant.
Experiment with taking a deep breath of curiosity and optimism. See if it leads you, like it has me, to a happier, more healthy body, mind, and spirit.
What are your thoughts and questions regarding staying open to learning, especially when you’re upset?
What are your thoughts and questions with maintaining the faith that allows you to be optimistic?