When my insides started ringing like the bells of a five-alarm fire, I didn’t know what was happening. That strong, engulfing feeling of anxiety rose up like a life-threatening wave, sweeping me away from the inside. The first time I experienced this, it took my breath away, literally.
The experience of anxiety comes in different forms and degrees, from pangs of uneasiness, to outright, full-blown panic attacks. For some, anxiety travels with us over the years. It is always uncomfortable, and sometimes experienced as extreme and unannounced. This causes us to live in fear, and avoidance.
Eventually the thinking mind says things like, This is just the way it is for me…This is just how I am… Just the way life is… I’m cursed… inflicted …. broken. This is the mind’s way of saying that it doesn’t know why it experiences anxiety, it only knows that it does.
If living with occasional anxiety has become a way of life, even intermittently, there must be a constant. Some thing that allows, makes, beckons, invites, or creates the experience of anxiety, to any degree and frequency.
There must be a cause for the effect of anxiety.
When I stick my hand into an open flame, I have the experience of being burned. So, no matter how many ways fire can enhance my life, when I don’t recognize the truth of the moment, I can have a feel-bad experience. While fire is good, holding my hand in an open flame is not.
While thought is good, falling submersed in it is not. So, no matter how many ways thinking can enhance my life, when I don’t recognize the truth of the moment, I can have a feel-bad experience.
Living in unnoticed, unfounded, unexamined thinking is the prerequisite for the experience of anxiety.
Therein lies the constant: thinking, believing and rerunning triggered programs and reactions, over and over again, over the years. Different places, different faces, and underneath it all, the same constant of being submersed in unnecessary, feel-bad thought. This is why every so often this unrecognized speeding train stops at the same old station, Anxiety Alley.
“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” -Albert Einstein
There are 2 states of being. You are lucid, present in a mentally quiet moment, outside of the perpetual, unnoticed, unfounded, unexamined mental commentary. Or, you are sleepwalking, unconscious, or simultaneously having and believing unassessed thought.
You are either submersed in thought unawares, or you are witnessing it.
Is it difficult to stop doing what you have been doing on autopilot for so long? Sure, but no more difficult than the many other new things you’ve learned. Is it possible? You bet your life it is.
The mind is the ultimate computer. It is not only able to recognize its own programming, it is also capable of reprograming itself. When we wake up to this dynamic, AKA metacognitive thought, or the experience of the program recognizing itself, it puts us in a new position. A position of power. A position of authentic change.
Who said reprogramming is such a grueling task? The mind did. The mind jumps ahead and slaps down a decision without ever even knowing if what it’s saying is true. Can positive change be difficult? As the eyewitness to thought, I recognize the importance and specificity of questions. The question, “Can positive change be difficult?”, is a segue into unconsciousness.
The question is, how can positive, authentic change be easy, effortless, and dare I say, enjoyable?
Using Your Superpower
How can we bridge the gap between feeding anxiety and healing anxiety? How can we wake ourselves up when we are sleepwalking, submerged in unfounded, unnecessary thought? There is a practice that can bridge this gap. Being the eyewitness to thought.
Noticing thought is your superpower.
When we slow down the crazy train, we can bring it to a stop and arrive at authentic change, healing and peace. It all starts with this one concept, this one practice, this one intention. Intend and allow yourself to become the eyewitness to the mind’s thoughts.
Witness thought as if someone else had said it, and discard thoughts that are unkind to self, and those that do not serve. Refocus in lucidity, or redirect your attention to positive thought.
While the truth is always simple, it isn’t always easy. I’d rather make these small efforts than experience the tap on the shoulder called anxiety. Suffering is only inevitable in unconsciousness. Suffering is the byproduct of the mind’s unnoticed, unexamined, unfounded fear-based thinking.
Suffering is optional.
It’s only unnerving to fly without a net when you don’t know how to go with the flow. Start now. Start slow. Start small. Start. Intend to be the eyewitness to thought and its old programming of churning and burning. The question is not, Can you? The question is, Will you?
Intend to be the eyewitness to thought. Intend to let go of unnecessary thinking and step into the peace of a quiet mind. Intend to let self-kindness lead the way.
EMPOWERMENT: Anxiety is the internal roar of unconsciousness. I witness, accept, flow and awaken
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