Dealing with Anxiety

Question:

Dear Ektaji,

How should one deal with anxiety through Karma Yoga? I understand the role of gyana and bhakti/surrender when we are anxious about something in future but it is still prabhava gyana. Therefore I end up reasoning with my racing mind to settle down and you know how that goes.

In other words how does one start seeing non-doership/silence in so much activity or multi-tasking all around us 24×7? It gets difficult at times to control the mind and I end up even waking up in the middle of the night. Please suggest how yogasutras want us to deal with anxiety when multi-tasking (especially when organizing a course). JaiGurudev

Answer:

The path of Karma Yoga talks about developing a skill in any and every action.

And what is the skill? 

  • While doing any action, one should always bring back the knowledge that all this is a play of my own Karma and Karmaphalam(fruit of action) – If something has come my way, whether it is an office task or a health issue or seva or relationship problem. Everything and everyone who comes my way is a product of my past Karma. It is my Karmaphalam from a past Karma. This has a cyclical tendency. This Karmaphalam is a trigger for my current karma. So the cycle will repeat if I do not apply skill in my current karma. The cycle will be Past Karmaphalam leading to Current Prarabdha Karma leading to Karmaphalam leading to Karma leading to Karmaphalam……
  • To get out of this vicious cycle, this Karmaphalam needs to be dealt with skill. The skill is to intellectually and logically drop emotion and take an action such as to stop the chain of karma-karmaphalam-karma-karmaphalam. This is the skill called ‘Kriya Yoga‘ in the Patanjali’s Yogasutras.

What are the steps for Kriya Yoga?

Kriya Yoga is a combination of Tapas, Swadhyaya and Ishwara Pranidhana.

  • Tapas means burning through that emotion willingly.
  • Studying your own emotion, analyzing it is Swadhyaya.
  • Ishwara Pranidhana is surrendering the emotion to God/Guru/Supreme energy.

Let’s understand how these work in detail:

  1. Recognize that this Karmaphalam that has come my way is evoking an emotion. This emotion can be anxiety about future or anger about past, etc. [Tapas]
  2. This particular emotion is propelling me to respond in a particular way. Let’s call this an emotional response.[Swadhyaya]
  3. Analyze the emotional response that your mind is nudging you into and recognize if you react in that way, it might create another agami seed of karmaphalam and the cycle will continue. [Swadhyaya]
  4. The intelligent thing to do is to drop the emotional response. [Tapas].

How to drop the emotional response?

An emotional response is mostly a “sensation of lack” or “Abhava”. This Abhava was created from the trigger karmaphalam that came my way in the form of person, situation, thing. Analyze this “abhava”. It is either:

  • ‘I am not good enough’ or
  • ‘why does something bad happen to me’ or
  • ‘I don’t like this’ or
  • ‘this should not have been like this’ or
  • ‘Can I do this?’ or
  • ‘Will I succeed?’ or
  • ‘this is not right for me’

If you analyze carefully all this internal dialogue/drama, you will notice that there will be only one obstacle in your way of ‘letting go of the emotion’. The obstacle is your ‘Ego’. If you drop this ‘Ego, if you drop this ‘I’, the mind will calm down and you will be able to clearly decide what is the ‘right action’ to do or maybe ‘not do’. This is Swadhyaya.

5. If you cannot succeed in this intellectual dissection to get over the emotion then wait for the emotion to pass. Every emotion will definitely pass in 2 1/4th day. That is a fixed expiry date for every emotion.Once the emotion   passes, you will logically be able to see things clearly and decide what action can be taken so that it doesn’t create an agami. Maybe, you come to a conclusion, that no action is required. P.S. This 2 1/4th day applies only to people who are not on the spiritual path. Those who are continuously absorbed in the principles of Karma Yoga or Gnyana Yoga, will be able to handle the emotions quicker than that. [Tapas].

6. Now the emotional response will continuously knock the door of your heart and you have to continuously let go of the knocking emotion and let the intellect win. This ‘letting go’ is called surrender or Ishwara Pranidhana.

If you are looking for a shortcut, there isn’t one 😉

If you have questions, please feel free to send it by clicking on the “Ask a Question” button on the left sidebar.

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2 thoughts on “Dealing with Anxiety

  1. JGD.. if our sanchita karma which we are not aware of,can haunt us in this birth… How can we survive without a ray of hope that everything will be okay? Jay Gurudev 🌹🌷🌸💐

    Like

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