Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Blessing of Anxiety

Anxiety or worry is the uncomfortable yet valuable experience of being seized by a new idea. All anxiety contains the new idea that will change our life.

When we are worrying, the mind is obsessively attaching to some new or foreign idea that is upsetting our current paradigm or belief system. The aim is not to get rid of it, but to discover what it is, reflect on it, then critically examine it and find the ego-shattering element in it. Stick with the most blatant, current, agonizing piece of anxiety in your mind. Jesus said, "So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today." Matthew 6:34 Jesus never said to stop worrying altogether, but rather to just worry about what is on the top of the anxiety heap. Worry consciously. By that I mean that we should identify our most persistent concern, write it down, question it thoroughly and listen to what it says. Worry is not the problem. The problem is too many worries at once, and not knowing how to worry consciously and clearly.

In the Gospel of Thomas we read:

Jesus said, "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed (anxious). When they are disturbed (worried), they will marvel, and will reign over all" Saying 2

This group of ancient Christians realized that the authentic life would begin with a troubled soul.

If God created the human psyche, then we must allow it to function as it was created. Worry moved humans from caves to huts, and from huts to buildings; anxiety harnessed fire and motivated people to every great invention and discovery that we know.

The ego-self is like a seed pod with a hard outer protective layer that keeps the precious contents safe inside. In order for the contents to spill out and put roots down into the soil, the shell must be crushed or disintegrate. That is the beneficial function of anxiety and even depression, and other uncomfortable feelings. That is what Jesus was addressing when he shocked his listeners with sayings like, "Blessed are those who mourn," and "Blessed are the poor in spirit," and "Blessed are those who are persecuted." These are not normally seen as blessed experiences, but experiences we usually ask God to deliver us from. But Jesus saw every event in life as containing value for the making of a soulful human being. That is why he could admonish people to love their enemies and pray for those who do evil to us.

So locate your most persistent and current worry. Find the point of it, learn the lesson, take action if need be and let the new idea inherent in that worry break open the old self. Watch the new self emerge.

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