How to work with worry

When unresolved energies begin to bubble up and flood the heart, they project onto circumstances in the external world. One’s thoughts can acquire tremendous drama, concocting scenarios that carry flavors such as passion or despair – and then spin the heart.

So we have to use breathing to gather those energies in, catch mind-stuff as it begins to trickle – or rush – out. Investigate: “How does this feel?” “This is the quality of worry.” And where in your body is that? Breathe through that, where in your felt body is the insecurity or worry? Breathe through that, extending compassionate attention. Energies may run out into desire fantasies. Where in your body is that craving, lust, passion? Breathe, cool, steady that in your body. Tackle them at the source rather than as the vivid blossoms of people, events, past and future that they create.

Catch them, handle their energy – and breathe through it.

Ajahn Sucitto

Cease resisting

As soon as it becomes clear that “I” cannot possibly escape from the reality of the present, since “I” is nothing other than what I know now, this inner turmoil must stop. No possibility remains but to be aware of pain, fear, boredom, or grief in the same complete way that one is aware of pleasure. The human organism has the most wonderful powers of adaptation to both physical and psychological pain. But these can only come into full play when the pain is not being constantly restimulated by this inner effort to get away from it, to separate the “I” from the feeling. The effort creates a state of tension in which the pain thrives.

But when the tension ceases, mind and body begin to absorb the pain – as water reacts to a blow or cut.

Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity

When you are feeling low

Feelings are often born from a matrix of conditions beyond your control. Just as you can’t control the weather or your boss’s mood, you can’t control the feelings in your body. They are just passing through, like clouds in the sky. They too, dissipate o n their own.

But if you take them not too seriously and start internalizing them as part of your identity, then you will resuscitate them every time you think about the past. Remember you are neither your feelings nor the story your mind tells about you to make sense of them. You are the vast silence that knows of their emergence and their disappearance.

Haemin Sunim, The Things you can See only when You Slow Down

Spots of time

In the midst of the struggle to care for my soul, I read Wordsworth’s poem, ‘The Prelude,’ in which he writes about ‘spots of time’ that nourish and repair the soul. I believe he was referring to brief, concentrated moments- little epiphanies- that inflame us with a sense of the holy. I began to search for spots of time here and there in my day. I found them by stopping. Just stopping. Some of my favorite words that Jesus spoke are, “Come away by yourself to a lonely place and rest a while.” I began to “come away” to a nook somewhere in the house or the yard where I would spend five minutes or less sitting still and receding into the quiet core of myself. Caring for my soul turned out to be simply that – spots of time in which to be.  

Sue Monk Kidd, Firstlight: The Early Inspirational Writings


When the uncertainty of the current situation leads us to feel uprooted and we find our minds pulled in all directions by the latest news:

Settle the self on the self

and let your life force blossom

Blanche Hartman, Seeds for a Boundless Life: Zen Teachings from the Heart