How do we become free from worries and anxieties?

gurudev (2)Worrying comes to us naturally. It is not as if there can ever be no worries in life. Though it would be easy to declare that there are no reasons for worry, there can certainly be some genuine causes for worry.

Let us understand the nature, of worries. Why do we worry? It may be a question of physical security. Suppose we are subjected to physical abuse, there can be worry that we may be abused again. Health can be a cause for worry. Income can be a cause for worry. The future can be a cause for worry. These are some of the things we may worry about.

We must, however, recognize that mere worrying does not help or accomplish anything. If we find ourselves worried about something, we must confront the object of worry and act upon it. If it is possible to alter the situation, we must try to change things to make the situation more pleasant or agreeable.

There are certain inevitable things in life that we cannot help and which we cannot change. Worrying about things that we cannot change is not right. Lord Krishna says,

अपरिहार्येर्थे न त्वं शोचितुमर्हसि !!
aparihāryerthe na tvaṁ śhochitum arhasi

You should not grieve over that which cannot be altered [Bhagavad Gita, 2-27].

The inevitable cannot be changed and we have to accept it gracefully. We should have the willingness to gracefully accept the unpleasant realities of life.

Anxiety occurs because we are not willing to accept the unpleasant. It is natural that we are unwilling to accept pain or unwilling to accept the unfavorable. But we must remember that the unpleasant, the unfavorable, or the undesirable is also a reality of life. Because we cannot avoid certain things, such as physical pain, we must be willing to accept them gracefully. However, accept them in the spirit of humility, not defiance or worry and anxiety, or sadness and fear. Accept it as boldly as you can and with a prayerful mind.

Prayer also helps in reducing anxiety. You can pray and seek the grace of the Lord that you may avoid unfavorable situations as well as seek the strength to confront the inevitable. Worries and anxieties call for a response. To the extent possible, this response must be in terms of our willingness to accept the inevitable. We are born, and we are bound to grow old. We have a body, and there is bound to be a disease. Where there is birth, death will also surely come. Where there is wealth, poverty can also be at hand. Where there is an association, disassociation is just as likely. These are some of the laws of nature that we have to accept, however difficult, not out of a sense of helplessness, but with grace. If possible, accept them as prasada, the grace of the Lord.

There are certain aspects to every situation that we can change and many things that we cannot change. We should use our will and courage to change what we can change, and gracefully accept whatever we cannot. This is the way to deal with worries and anxieties. When we were born, everything was provided for us. As we go along in life, whatever we need continues to be provided. We must trust that there is somebody taking care of us. Whoever has caused this birth will take care. Of course, this does not mean that we remain with hands folded and do nothing to help ourselves. But we must have sraddha, faith or trust in the scheme of things, a reasonable trust that there is fairness, which will take care of everything. It should also be acceptable to us that things may not always go well.

When we worry, let us confront that worry. Sometimes the worry is purely a supposition, as in what if? We tend not to confront situations. We simply choose to worry. ”Swamiji, what if I lose my job?” I Would only ask you to explore your own fears: “So, what will happen?” “Oh, I won’t have any income.” “So what will, happen?” ”It will mean that I cannot pay my mortgage.” “So what will happen?” “I cannot continue to live in’ this house.” “Then move to an apartment.” “What will people think of me?” ”Let them think Whatever they want.”

Very often, we impose too many requirements upon. ourselves. We have an image of ourselves and want to conform to it, imagining that we cannot be otherwise. But We. can be. When we examine our own thoughts deeply enough, we will be able to confront the unpleasant as well. It is not that we cannot confront it. We surely can. If not, we can pray to the Lord to give us the strength to confront whatever we are faced with

“God, give me the serenity to accept gracefully what I cannot change. Give me the will and courage to change what I can. And give me the wisdom to know the difference.”

Swami Viditatmananda Saraswati

Excerpts from: Satsanga with Swami Viditatmananda Vol.1
Link to videos Swamiji’s Discourse

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