Your awareness can help free you from your anxieties.
This morning we were visiting a friend at a five-star hotel property. This is a global hospitality chain that has been my first preference for many years as a world traveler. In fact, until our business went bust, I had even earned many thousand stay points with them as I was rated a privileged guest by their loyalty program. Our meeting this morning was with a key manager in the chain. While we were seated with our host in his small office, in the back (service) area of the hotel, the general manager of the property walked in. He was looking very tense and spoke tersely to our friend. We were introduced to him briefly; he tried to be cordial but his anxiety, his stress, showed. To me he looked very unhappy and burnt out. After his boss left, our friend apologized for the interruption and told us that he was planning to put in his papers. He said that he had stopped enjoying working for the hospitality chain and that he particularly found his boss khadoos – someone who is forever grumpy and stuck-up! I told our friend that his boss perhaps needed a jadoo ki jhappi* – a magical hug that can re-energize and repair dukhi atma – a worn-out, unhappy soul!
I have a confession to make here. I once used to be quite like the hotel’s general manager we met this morning – forever tense!!! And I used to hate myself for being that way. It was only when I became more aware of my true Self, that I learned to deal with my anxieties, worries, insecurities and fears better!
Think about it: how can anyone enjoy being in a continuous state of tension? Anxiety is nothing but being in a tense state – tense about things, people, events, situations, kids, work, commute, traffic, almost everything! To be sure, anxiety is a real threat to our happiness but it has, unfortunately, become a part of our everyday living. And that’s primarily because the mind unfailingly magnifies our anxieties. So the hotel’s general manager is not alone.
Is there a way out? Indeed. Awareness can rid us of anxiety.
The human mind is like a freeway. Hundreds of thousands of thoughts, like vehicles on a freeway, make their way through the mind. And every thought need not be a call to action. But because of this notion that you are supreme, you are the center of your Universe, you jump at every thought. The anxious human mind is like a scared rabbit – it is forever scurrying in different directions! Responding to several zillion, irrelevant calls to action!
Your anxieties are actually evidence that you are not anchored within. And that’s because your reference points are all outside. For instance – Who’s saying what about you to whom? What will people think of me now? What if my kids don’t turn out like other kids their age? What if people think I am not smart, not handsome, not beautiful, not intelligent, not wealthy – whatever? Anxiety is not just a feeling. It is a reflection of your continuous desire to become something rather than simply be.
Such thinking makes Life miserable. Because in an anxious state we are being driven by desire. Besides, in worrying about wanting to become something that we are not, we are missing what we already are. In Tuesdays with Morrie (by Mitch Albom), Morrie tells the story of two waves in the ocean. The wave in the front tells the one following it that it is frightened because it is about to crash into the shore and cease to exist. But the second wave shows no fear. It explains to the one ahead: “You are frightened because you think you are a wave; I am not frightened because I know I am part of the ocean!”
Our anxieties are an impediment to our being happy! Once we become aware of our true nature, of who we really are, we will be free. Awareness will then replace anxiety. And then, like the second wave, we will realize that no matter how many times we crash on the shore, and stop being a wave, we will still celebrate being part of the ocean! So, let your awareness take over, drop your anxieties. Whenever you catch yourself being a khadoos, dukhi atma, go get yourself a jadoo ki jhappi – or two!!
*In the Bollywood movie Munnabhai MBBS, Sanjay Dutt, Munna, memorably uses the jadoo ki jhappi – a magical bear hug – treatment to heal dukhi atmas – unhappy souls!