Recently I took the Reiki I Training with Jonna Rae Bartges, a Third Degree Reiki Master and a psychic, who teaches with joy and bad puns and calls herself The Happy Medium (she says “I see dead people so you don’t have to.”) I appreciate her wit and I do believe that you should never fully trust a spiritual teacher who doesn’t laugh and smile. I’m not the only one who thinks this way. The visionary Jesuit priest & scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.” He is the philosopher who also said “We are not physical beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a physical experience.” And let’s face it, this physical experience can be mighty funny… if we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
To get back on my original topic, one of the practices of Reiki is to use five precepts, or daily affirmations. The first one is:
“Just for today, I will not worry.”
OK, so first it says that I should do this thing one day at a time. Yeah, small daily steps are what will accomplish big goals. But what is this thing called “worry”? Here’s a dictionary definition (I added the bold):
give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.Synonyms: fret, be concerned, be anxious, agonize, overthink, brood, panic, lose sleep, get worked up, get stressed, get in a state, stew, torment oneself
(of a dog or other carnivorous animal) tear at, gnaw on, or drag around with the teeth. “I found my dog contentedly worrying a bone”
So worry is about allowing your mind to get stuck in an endless hamster wheel of negative thoughts about the future. Whether that future is 5 minutes or 5 years away, it’s still the future if it’s not happening right now. Our worries are about what I want to happen in the future, not about what I am experiencing right now.
Anxiety always exists in the gap between now and some future moment. Anxiety is the mind filling in the gap, that uncomfortable blank space, with fearful imaginings. We will always handle what is happening right now – yes, we will do whatever we can, the best we are able at that moment in time. But we can’t really change the past – what’s done is done and the best we can do is clean up after the mess if needed. And we can’t accurately predict the future. Do you really know what’s going to happen and how that will affect other things? Uncomfortable in uncertainty, we make a guess. Sadly, we tend to go for drama and make up a negative outcome, grab on to that fear-based creation, then gnaw on that idea like a hungry puppy. Since this problem is in the future, it is only a potential problem, not an actual one.
We can choose, moment by moment, tick by tick, thought by thought, whether to live in the Blessed Now, or to allow the mind to indulge in our negative fantasies. It really is a choice. But I didn’t say it was easy! It takes diligence and awareness to stay awake enough to notice the mind at play, so that you can stop buying tickets to the fantasy land that the anxious mind is creating. That’s why they call it spiritual practice – it really does take practice!
It takes using our will to not worry, to dwell instead in a deep faith that all is in divine order. Einstein was once quoted as saying:
“The most important question you can ever ask is if the world is a friendly place.”
Worry is a belief that my world is not going to be OK. In a way, I’m saying to Spirit (or God, or Allah, or Buddha, Baba, Universal Mind, Goddess, Christ Consciousness, Ki, Higher Power, The Light, or The Great Cosmic Muffin – use whatever name you are comfortable with – Spirit doesn’t mind), “Spirit, I don’t trust that you’ve got this right. My life is not in divine order and I have to fix everything.” (Stamp foot, say “It’s not fair!” with teenage angst.)
When I choose to not engage in worry, I am letting go of the burden of being responsible for things I cannot control.
Read that sentence again. Have you been trying to control the uncontrollable? Like your spouse, your kids, your boss, your health, your inlaws, co-workers, the Economy, Congress, getting older, the way an audience responds to you, what somebody thinks of you. Are you ready to let go of that heaviness? Can you give up your job as Director of the Universe?
Now this does not mean that you don’t take action. Lack of worry does not mean lack of action. You still engage in the world; you do the things that you feel are important and that are yours to do. The difference is whether you do them with anxiety and fear, or whether you do them with faith in the inherent goodness of humanity and with trust in your deity of choice.
It is said that worry is like a hamster wheel – you go round and round but you never get anywhere. Worry doesn’t fix anything! In fact, it usually makes it harder to get things done. And it definitely changes the quality of living, the emotional content of daily life.
We can always find something to worry about. Current politics is certainly easy to worry about. So is my health. And my finances. And the well being of my children. And the things that need fixing in my home. And how my car is running. And… and… and… There is no end to things that cry out for my energy. (BTW, having things to handle is part of the rent we pay for being alive on this planet. So stop resisting these signs that you are still alive!) These all have the potential to be objects of my worry. But the essential question is whether I will use my energy from a place of fear (which is where worry is born) or from a place of love (in trust and feeling connection).
When I worry, I lower my energy vibration and I cut off my connection to Spirit, the Universal Mind, the Life Force. Impediments to the flow of this life force within me create sickness in body and spirit.
So just for today, this moment, this tiny tick of time, I use my will to stay out of fear, to choose to not worry, and to dwell in love and perfect trust.