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Nothing to get stressed about...

KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest?Europe Veteran

Recently I've been examining all the sources of stress in my life, looking at them carefully in meditative spaces. I've found my burdens getting lighter and lighter as I did so, because each time I've looked at things to get stressed about they've turned out to be shadows of other things, which are turning out to be less and less important.

  • not having access to all my money: this is stressful only because I don't have a job
  • not having a job: this is stressful only because I need to earn a living
  • needing to earn a living: this is stressful only because I don't want to be homeless
  • not wanting to be homeless: this is a source of stress only because I'm not wanting to die
  • not wanting to die: this is the great unknown, but there seems to be an afterlife, and either way it's inevitable

So in fact, there is nothing to be stressed about...once you accept the fact of your eventual death, it all turns out to be illusion, smoke and mirrors that society holds you should care about. Life just carries on. I don't have any dependents, am in reasonably good health and have much to be thankful for.

I find the lives of the Thai Forest monks such an inspiration. They live off their alms with hardly any possessions, if they can do so so can we after all. Life just carries on, regardless of your state or location.

Similarly there are other things we can come across that we don't need to fear. Bosses and stressful situations at work, public speaking, aloneness, discomfort, even the lack of food all become minor hurdles when really examined carefully in the light of a Buddhist existence. The rat race is a devilish invention which speaks to our baser instincts, and dismantling its impulses is the work of years of meditation, but ultimately it becomes just another shadow.

lobsterVastmindBunkskarastiShoshinsilverBodhiTzuyagr

Comments

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    You nailed it! Good for you.

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    When my ex starts working more regularly and earning more, I've started thinking about just working four days a week and spending the extra day at the Monastery / volunteering etc.

    One less day prostituting myself can only be a good thing right?

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    That depends. Would it jeopardise your financial responsibility to your children?

    Bunks
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @Bunks said:
    When my ex starts working more regularly and earning more, I've started thinking about just working four days a week and spending the extra day at the Monastery / volunteering etc.

    One less day prostituting myself can only be a good thing right?

    Sounds like a plan. Internalising this kind of change can take a while though, I remember having the above thoughts for the first time years ago but stress did eventually return. It takes regular reminders until it really settles in.

    Bunks
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @federica said:
    That depends. Would it jeopardise your financial responsibility to your children?

    Good point. I certainly wouldn't do it if that were the case.

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Apologies for hijacking your thread @Kerome. I'll shut up now. Too little sleep and too much caffeine make Luke a chatty boy ;-)

    dhammachicksilver
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @Kerome your post reminds me of the following quotes on worry...

    "If you fear you shall suffer, you "already" suffer what you fear !"

    ~Michel de Montaigne~

    "I'm worried and I ought not be worried...But because I'm worried, I'm "now" worried because I'm worried" ( and so the self generating worry cycle continues...)

    ~Alan Watts~

    Or as Shantideva (thus have I heard) once said something along the lines of

    Kannonsilver
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    It may not make logical sense, but our fears rarely work well with logic. It didn't matter how many times I repeated that to myself (why worry if you can't do anything about it). I know that. I know it well. It didn't help. Keeping myself busy helped. Calming my breath helped. That probably helps the most, and I do it often. But understanding I shouldn't worry probably did as much to stress me out as the worrisome thoughts themselves. Kind of how insomniacs worry they can't sleep which makes them not sleep.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited July 17

    It's interesting when one thinks about "Worry"
    It seems to be something that some (perhaps many) people "think" they need ...I guess it was originally a survival trait/mechanism of sorts back in the days of early human development ...

    However I've found it's best to explore worry and it's antidotes when one is not worried, so when the mind starts to get hooked on worrying, those wandering thoughts can be nipped in the bud, by using the antidote ...

    "Laughter" is a good antidote to worry and anxiety ( I'm talking about for people who don't suffer from any major debilitating anxious conditions that they may require medication or therapy for )

    "Thus one antidote is to have a sense of humor and be able to laugh at ourselves"

    ~ Venerable Thubten Chodron ~

    Sadhguru sums up fear & death....

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited July 19

    I found this morning that worry almost seemed to arise out of the body... I woke up feeling tranquil, my mind then during breakfast settled on something smallish, and before I knew it I was experiencing worry again. While in the larger scheme of things it wasn't anything to get excited about. I went for a morning walk to the market instead, and felt better afterwards.

    It was like a bodily sensation, a kind of urge to do things, which went hunting for all the things I still had to do (and there are some I have been putting off), and then it set off the mind in worrying about the biggest thing it could find, and before I knew it my beautiful tranquil morning mood was sent spiralling down into something uncomfortable.

  • upekkaupekka Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    I found this morning that worry almost seemed to arise out of the body... I woke up feeling tranquil, my mind then during breakfast settled on something smallish, and before I knew it I was experiencing worry again. While in the larger scheme of things it wasn't anything to get excited about. I went for a morning walk to the market instead, and felt better afterwards.

    It was like a bodily sensation, a kind of urge to do things, which went hunting for all the things I still had to do (and there are some I have been putting off), and then it set off the mind in worrying about the biggest thing it could find, and before I knew it my beautiful tranquil morning mood was sent spiralling down into something uncomfortable.

    in other words, you were mindful, wasn't it?
    you could have checked exactly what the next command would be
    and
    then could have checked who would be giving the command, and how the command would be given etc.

    if you did those, then you would be with insight

    be mindful is the tranquillity meditation (sati)
    investigating the situation is the insight meditation (vipassana)

    atapi satima sampajano
    vineyya loke abijja domanassanam
    kaye kayanu passi viharathi

    (Four frame of reference)

  • SusannaSusanna Explorer

    I usually wake up with some degree of anxiety. But one morning last week I woke up feeling great! I decided to try some meditation (I haven't done any for months as it seems to make my anxiety worse). All went well for about five minutes, then the anxiety began buzzing. But oddly, it was as if the sensations started before the thoughts - as if my mind was casting around for something to fix on and be anxious about. I've never spotted this before.

    JeffreykarastiKeromesilver
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @Susanna it's really common for sensations of various emotions to start as a feeling in our body somewhere. Once we start noting it, we can start doing things to mitigate it. It helps us to avoid the full-blown emotion taking over. What works, of course, differs for everyone. This is how my sister manages her anxiety, it took a couple of years of therapy for her to figure out what to do for various sensations. It's interesting because she is very hot-headed. Bad temper that has gotten her in trouble more than once. Her therapist has her literally cool her head when the anger starts to rise, and it actually works. She dunks her head in cold water, lol. You never know what you figure out! And there is nothing wrong with backing off the 5 mins, to, say, 4 mins. As your body realizes there is nothing to get anxious about, you might be able to increase the time slowly from there.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited July 22

    @Susanna said:
    I usually wake up with some degree of anxiety. But one morning last week I woke up feeling great! I decided to try some meditation (I haven't done any for months as it seems to make my anxiety worse). All went well for about five minutes, then the anxiety began buzzing. But oddly, it was as if the sensations started before the thoughts - as if my mind was casting around for something to fix on and be anxious about. I've never spotted this before.

    That's not dissimilar to what I've found recently. It's as if there is a habit energy, an old pattern that kicks in before you actually start thinking. I've been trying to prevent it from gaining a foothold. I've found Thich Nhat Hanh somewhat helpful when he talks about habit energy.

    Thich Nhat Hanh on Habit Energies

    Shoshin
  • SusannaSusanna Explorer

    Thanks for the comments - food for thought.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    I found this morning that worry almost seemed to arise out of the body... I woke up feeling tranquil, my mind then during breakfast settled on something smallish, and before I knew it I was experiencing worry again.

    Yesterday I was waiting for a call from the company I'd had a job interview with, and while I was waiting stress and worry were manifesting through the body, and today as well as I had quite a few chores to do. It's odd how the mind can stay calm and contemplative, while sensations from the body are poking it with discomfort and worry sensations.

    Maybe this is just a sign that I'm carrying too many worrisome thoughts around... too much on my internal to-do list, or things on there that I have no control over but am on some level freaking out about. But mindfulness is not providing answers yet, probably a sign I am not looking in the right places.

    I tracked down some of the stress to a fear of not meeting people's expectations, and of being judged. There are various ways to answer those, including "what's the worst that could happen?" They say no, so what?

    But I am finding worry a powerful energy, it tends to come back in various different shapes. Perhaps because in the past I've had such trouble with it. It seems to be the main thing that disturbs my peace during the day, and only sleep (even a short nap) settles it back down again.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited July 29

    @Kerome

    Worry is to think about things in a stressful manner and.....

    Thoughts tend to tie the mind up in [k]nots...The mind becomes charmed by its own thoughts...This is a force of habit... 'conditioning' from way back...

    The Dharma is interesting...
    When one thinks that they have it down pat (a grasp on truth) it slips through mind's fingers...(like butter off a hot knife)

    It would seem that the Dharma (the true nature of things) is all about non-clinging & letting go (especially when one convinces one 'self' that one knows the truth....)

    Maybe your efforts should be more focus towards the experiential understanding of "Anatta" and the "Five Aggregates" ...

    Once there's a deeper understanding of these, then perhaps there will be...

    Nothing to get stressed about...

    Kerome
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    Not sure if this fits in this thread but this was a wake up for me:

    THE SUFFERING OF NOT GETTING WHAT ONE WANTS

    You would like to stay with family and loved ones
    Forever, but you are certain to leave them.

    You would like to keep your beautiful home
    Forever, but you are certain to leave it behind.

    You would like to enjoy happiness, wealth and comfort
    Forever, but you are certain to lose them.

    You would like to keep this excellent human life with its freedoms and advantages
    Forever, but you are certain to die.

    You would like to study Dharma with your wonderful teacher
    Forever, but you are certain to part.

    You would like to be with your good spiritual friends
    Forever, but you are certain to separate.

    O my friends who feel deep disillusionment with samsara,
    I, the Dharmaless beggar, exhort you:
    From today put on the armour of effort, for the time has come
    To cross to the land of great bliss whence there is no separation.

    ~ Longchenpa

    lobsterKeromeShoshinsilver
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    From today put on the armour of effort, for the time has come
    To cross to the land of great bliss whence there is no separation.

    We getz amour? I haz shell, anybody need a suit? ;)

    I love these dharmaless ones leaving nirvana for samsara or vice
    versa. We cross or drown. Without water, it is one shore.

    Thanks @Jeffrey

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited July 30

    Thanks @shoshin for the pointer, I found the Mindah-Lee Kumar video on anatta very useful. Like some of the concepts on there not being sources of worry, I think it will take some time to sink in... I've come across anatta before but it never really became entirely clear, it's like hearing the words but not making the leap to experiential understanding. I will take it with me into meditation and see what arises.

    The thing is, once worry comes and becomes physical, it is not easy to settle it down again. It is pretty atavistic and deep-seated in the body... I wonder if I need to accept it more in the mind, before it gets to the body, and deal with it there.

    Shoshinlobster
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    You're welcome @Kerome ...Yes Mindah-Lee Kumar's approach is easy to follow....And yes it is important to be vigilant when it comes to the contents of thought patterns when they first arise ....

    I guess this is why "Mindfulness" is strongly advocated ...Nipping the story in the bud before it becomes a novel (so to speak) which can be liken to reading the back cover of a book to get the gist of the story, then deciding it's not worth reading....

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited July 31

    Well said @Shoshin
    @Kerome - experiential understanding, oh yeah! <3

    We can and initially it is useful and may even be essential, feed in positive mental, physical ethical loops. Hence yoga, meditation, sila, forbearance/acceptance etc.
    Allowing things we can control to arise and dissipate/dissolve is a practice. We do not start with big monsters. We practice allowing sensations of minor discomfort arise and pass. Yes they are all empty. Even fish addiction (allegedly) :3

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    I had a dream last night, and a small portion of that dream went as follows: I was exploring a dungeon looking for treasure, it was a square room with whitewashed walls and a door made of boards, through which I had just come in. I was going to check behind the door, and I remember thinking, "what might be hiding behind the door?" And in my mind there arose an image of a goblin, and I kind of wanted it to be there, time for a good battle! But when in the dream I looked behind the door, there was nothing there...

    On waking up I recognised the goblin as something from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey which I watched a few nights ago, they seemed fearsome. But I'm puzzled why some part of my mind would be bringing it up as something to be battled or feared... I am even more puzzled that my mind would be thinking at all while dreaming. It seems like quite a complex sequence of thoughts to have while dreaming.

    The desire for battle I think came because it was a video game dream, dungeons and potential treasure are pretty clear hallmarks. And in video games there is always another life, and battle is often not dangerous... in real life my persona is different, I don't like confrontation. I certainly don't like battle!

    It seems I'm not yet done with the tangle of fear, desire for victory and treasure, battle and games. But my dreamer knows me better than I know myself... after all in the dream there was no goblin.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    Yesterday evening I went for an interview for doing an art course, and on the way back I had another encounter with worry, this time in the form of unheimlichkeit, that emotion of being unhomed in the dark and a stranger to the world. I've known it to visit me many times in the past, usually when travelling in the dark and it leaves me unsettled for some time after.

    It's an oddity that one can make peace with death and still be unsettled by travelling through the dark. It suggests to me there is some primitive chain of feelings that lead to the visceral, up close fear of predators and death, which we don't deal with merely by contemplating death in the abstract. Maybe I should do a night of meditations in the darkness outside sometime.

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