Dear Carlos, I have been attending your classes for a while now and I know that in times of doubt I can rely on your reflections because I find so many answers there. I’ve always been an anxious person but coming to your classes, listening to and reading your reflections has helped me release a lot of tension from my body and mind. Having some problems right now, I find myself in a lot of tension. This really surprised me, since I was convinced that practicing letting go and presence will make the fears go away… You talked a lot about values and for me it is clear that I value a quiet mind more than a busy mind and anxiety. But how do I get there? Thank you for all the good you brought into my life! Mari
Anxieties and fears are emotions that come from the past. They have nothing to do with you, in the sense that you did not do anything to create them or make them appear. According to Western beliefs, they may be coming from as far as the time you were in the womb or they were created sometime during the first 4 years of your life. According to Eastern beliefs, they are coming from previous lifetimes. Either way, they were created before the person that you are now knew what was happening. It is what I called ‘the background’. You can find an article I wrote about this here.
Because they have nothing to do with you, it is very important to understand that you need to learn not to take those emotions personally, just like I had to learn not to take it personally when I needed to wear glasses when I was 12.
In this case, not to take it personally means to be able to create a distance between ‘me’ and the fear and anxieties. They are not ‘me’, they are something that appears in me. For example, you say: ‘I’ve always been an anxious person with lots of fears’. You are not an anxious person or a fearful person. You are a person in which sometimes these energies we call anxiety and fear appear. You are a person in which sometimes a lot of tension appears. The person – you – IS the presence, the awareness, the witness of the anxiety, the fears and the tensions.
Presence is not necessarily – as many people tend to think – a good feeling. Presence is seeing what is, as it is, because it is.
You say: ‘This really surprised me, since I was convinced that practicing letting go and presence will make the fears go away.’ Presence is not interested in the fears to go away. The part that wants the fears and the anxiety to go away IS part of the fears and anxieties. The more you want the fears and anxieties to go, the more fears and anxieties you create. Presence is about what is.
I personally dislike snow a lot, especially in the city. But no matter how present I am, how much I practice presence, the snow does not seem to go away 🙂
Presence is about embracing what is, embracing life. Nothing that happens is random. Everything that happens has a reason to be. Sometimes we like what happens and sometimes we don’t. But it is precisely our ‘likes and dislikes’ what distance ourselves from life, from what is. Of course we all like a sunny, warm, beautiful spring day, but so what? Life is much more complex than that.
Your fears and anxieties and tensions are a consequence of something, are a response to something. To try to make them disappear will only create more tension, more anxiety, more fear. Of course they are not pleasant and naturally we look for what is pleasant, and that is fine.
But what is really pleasant – presence – is already ‘in’ us.
Instead of focusing on the fears and anxiety, focus on finding the presence that is aware of the fears and anxieties. Focus on ‘you’ – the seer – instead of focusing on what is ‘not you’ – the seen. Find your own presence, that awareness that sees and perceives and feels but that is not affected by what sees and perceives and feels. And then, AS that presence, allow whatever needs to come, to come; whatever needs to appear, to appear. Like Rumi, a Sufi poet from the 11 century says in this poem called The Guest House:
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
When this happens, when everything is welcomed, when the ‘likes and dislikes’ – our main obstruction to reality – are being put aside even for a moment, a new world opens up. The world of truth, the world of reality, the world of what is. The world of Life itself. It is the beautiful world of presence, of loving life, of loving oneself, of loving everything that is. It is the world of love.
And maybe, in this world of love, it may happen that suddenly an indication of why those fears and anxieties are there appears. It may happen… or it may not. But in this world of love we are not so interested in that; if it happens, we take it and we feel grateful. And if it does not happen, we keep loving what is. It may be a spring day or it may be a winter day. It may be more pleasant or it may be not so pleasant. But embracing what is is always pleasant.
In this place you find yourself, who you really are.
Having said all that, I would like to mention something else. I am not a psychologist. My interest is Presence or Life and not so much the workings of the mind. The mind is an amazing, incredibly complex machine, but it is not what we really are. So, although in my classes we are always dealing with the mind, learning to create a more quiet, harmonic mind, my focus is in presence, in what we really are (Even so, a lot of the notes in the blog are about dealings with thoughts).
There is of course the possibility to focus on the mind, and for that you need a psychologist or, if you are inclined, a group where they do things like child regressions or past lifetimes investigations. I am not at all against this, quite the opposite. If a person feels that what she needs is to repair the mind, then that is what she should do. There are many people that have been through difficult traumatic situations and need to deal with them before anything else. The thing is that too many people focus on their mind to find true happiness when real happiness is not a state of mind, but an effect of presence. There is no end to the possibilities of making the mind better, like there is no end to the improvements that we bring to technology. But no matter how many new computers or how much new sophisticated technology we can create, that is not going to make us into happier people. Happiness is not in the technology, and true happiness is not in the mind.
So, if you feel that the fears and anxieties are too much, you may need to go to a psychologist to work on them. But, from my point of view, do not stay there too long. At a certain point, if what you want is true happiness, you need to go back to presence, to what you really are.
And one more thing. Again, this is definitely not my specialty, but sometimes anxieties and fears and tensions come from chemical imbalances, like a lack of calcium in the body or hormonal imbalances or thyroidal problems. Just make sure you discard these possibilities.
Please feel free to write back with any questions or anything you don’t understand from what I have written. Because of the possibilities of a letter, I barely touch on subjects which would actually need much more explanation than what I have done here.
All the best to you,