Last time we looked at living without anger – how have you found it? Have you managed to pause and reflect before reacting in the habitual way?
This month I want to look at the second Reiki principle “Just for today, do not worry”.
Whereas anger is an emotional response, worry is a thought process. Did you know that you have over 60,000 thoughts per day?! I’d love to know who actually got paid to count them!
To understand worry, we need to understand how we think. Thoughts help us to make sense of the world around us. The brain receives information and manipulates it into a model in the mind which we then perceive as thoughts.
These thoughts can be positive or negative in nature. Your thoughts carry energy vibrations – and before you think “Oh no here she goes again with all that mumbo-jumbo energy vibe thing”, science backs this up! Scientists can measure thoughts in the brain using specialised equipment and they have shown that thoughts do indeed have specific vibrations, and furthermore, there is a difference between positive and negative thoughts. Positive ones have higher vibrations as we would expect.
The new world of Quantum Physics is highlighting that we are all connected energetically and that the universe as we know it is actually all energy and created by the observer: –
A fundamental conclusion of the new physics also acknowledges that the observer creates the reality. As observers, we are personally involved with the creation of our own reality. Physicists are being forced to admit that the universe is a “mental” construction. Pioneering physicist Sir James Jeans wrote: “The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter, we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter. (R. C. Henry, “The Mental Universe”; Nature 436:29, 2005)
Fascinating stuff – we actually create our own reality. Your thoughts are things and they matter! You get what you focus on – the Law of Attraction is real!
You know this – if you have pessimistic thoughts, for example “I’m going to fail this test – I am no good at this subject” or “I can’t do this right at all – it’s going to be a terrible day”, more often than not you will prove yourself right. You will fail the test or have a bad day and then you will use that experience to self-prove your theory. You will say, “See! I told you I couldn’t do it”!
Usui was really on to something when he said “Just for today, do not worry”. It is so much deeper than simply not worrying – it really means to look at the state of your thoughts and focus on a more positive thinking pattern.
It is time to become aware of your monkey mind – your internal dialogue. How do you talk to yourself? Are you aware of your thought patterns at all or is it all just background noise?
When I was thinking about this subject and this post I thought about getting into the brain and explaining how it works. I then thought about talking about the higher self, the conscious self and the sub-conscious, in an effort to explain the thinking process to you.
I decided against all that – quite simply Reiki is simpler than that. It is not about how the brain works or how you think. It is about shining the light of awareness into your thinking patterns so you can make an informed choice about how to perceive the world around you.
Just like having an angry emotional outburst is a choice you make, so is the act of worrying.
You may perhaps believe that you are a born worrier. Is that true? As a baby did you worry? Did you come out of the womb worried? No, of course you didn’t. Babies don’t worry – it is a learned behaviour.
Your behaviour, thought patterns and beliefs are all programmed from an early age from the people around you and from your environment. If your parents were worriers then you will most likely inherit a similar pattern. If you were constantly told “Money doesn’t grow on trees” or “You have to work hard and pay the bills” then you will believe that money is difficult to come by and that working hard for a living is the only way to get money. This is an example of a limiting belief.
How you view the world will be based on your belief system but the good news is that you can change that!
If you are already a naturally positive thinker then great! If not, then you may need some help to address your thinking patterns.
Penelope Quest, in her book “Living the Reiki Way” discusses the concept of Faulty Thinking. Here are some of the examples she gives: –
- Black & White thinking – seeing things in a polarised way with no consideration for middle ground
- Blaming – not taking any responsibility for disappointments or let downs, preferring to blame others
- Comparing – comparing yourself less favourably to other people
- Filtering – you filter out the positives and only hear the negatives
- Jumping to conclusions – automatically assuming the worst or negatively making assumptions
- Labelling – you have uncomplimentary labels for yourself or others
- Mind reading – you think you know what other people are thinking based on your own ideas
These are just some of the things which can be listed as “Faulty Thinking”. This type of thinking creates or contributes to upsetting emotional responses such as anger, guilt, anxiety and poor self-esteem.
I am sure you can find something in that list that you are prone to do – I know I can! The secret to living without worry is to begin to control the monkey mind and to look at the perspective you have.
Perspective is like a window – which window do you look out of? Perhaps your window is clouded with judgement and pessimism so that when you look through it all you can see is more of the same. Or perhaps your window is sparkling and clean making everything you see clean and fresh.
I read a story on social media recently about a young married couple who had just moved into their new home. Each day the lady across the road would hang out her washing on the line and the newly-wed girl would comment to herself “Oh my goodness – look at the state of her washing. She really doesn’t know how to get her clothes properly clean!”
She even remarked to her husband about the state of the neighbour’s washing. As the days passed she couldn’t believe that her neighbour would hang out such dirty laundry.
One day she was amazed to see that the laundry was beautifully clean and she ran to tell her husband that the neighbour had finally managed to get her washing properly done. Her husband just smiled and said “No darling, I simply washed our windows.”
So you see the newly-wed girl had been making judgements and assumptions because she was looking through a dirty window. Which window do you look through each day?
A useful tool to identify your internal dialogue is to write down how you describe yourself. In this exercise it is OK to write completely honestly and put down both positive and negative traits – only you will see this so don’t censor yourself.
Write down a description of yourself – if it is easier write it in the 3rd person as if you are talking about someone else but make it true – exactly how you would describe yourself.
Once you have done this then place a tick beside all the positive words you have used and a cross against the negative ones. Count up your scores – are you more positive than negative or vice versa or are you pretty balanced?
Now score out all the negative things – this is an exercise in positivity! Replace them with their opposite meaning and make them positive instead!
This is just a quick way to identify how you think – whether you are an optimist (glass half full) or pessimist (glass half empty) thinker. Maybe you are a realist – the glass can be refilled! The point is to identify your thought patterns.
Worry is essentially fear – the fear of failure or the fear of the unknown. It lies in a “What If?” mentality. Worrying doesn’t actually achieve anything. Think about a time when you worried about something – did it make any difference to the outcome of the event?
Worry does nothing except steal your peace of mind and keeps you awake at night. You should not bury your worries – that is not what Usui was advocating when he said “Do not worry”. It is perfectly normal and human to have concerns and worries – Usui was suggesting that you do not let these things preoccupy you entirely.
Shine the light on the thing that worries you. Ask for help if needed or choose to let go of the need to control how things will work out. None of us know the future and nobody can control it so worrying about it will not help in any way.
As with the emotional responses we looked at last time, notice where you feel the anxiety and worry in your body. Breathe into this area and if Reiki attuned then give Reiki to the situation to help you calm down.
If it is a forthcoming event, for example, a driving test that you are worried about you can use visualisation techniques to help you feel better. Close your eyes and see yourself in the situation, coping well. See yourself driving confidently and with no problems. See the examiner giving you a smile and congratulating you on passing the test.
The human brain cannot tell the difference between a real event and a vividly imagined one – which is why scary movies are so good at raising your heart rate! Using visualisation techniques is a tried and trusted method, so when you next feel worried why not give it a try? I have an inner sanctuary that I go to in my mind when I am worried. It is my safe place – my happy place. It gets used frequently and in particular when I am at the dentist!
Essentially there are two ways to deal with fear (worry) – you can either change what you think or change what you do. The choice is ultimately yours but here are a few more things you can try: –
Smile! It is hard to worry with a smile on your face. In Amy Cuddy’s book Presence, she points out that psychology follows physiology. In other words your body language will impact your body’s reactions. She talks about power posing – for example – standing with your hands on your hips and deep breathing while visualising yourself as strong and confident. In studies where people did this, their stress hormones lowered significantly and their testosterone levels increased – making them actually feel (and behave) more confidently. So try it – smile and notice your body. Unclench your teeth and lower your shoulders and take a few deep breaths – this naturally helps to relax you and the worry starts to fade.
I would also suggest exercise and fresh air. Getting outside into nature really helps with grounding the fear and moving it into a more positive emotion. Exercising releases endorphins which are the body’s natural feel good drugs. Move your body – put on some music, dance, laugh and smile.
If worries are significant or getting you down then talk them over with a friend or counsellor. Seek help if you need it. Don’t feel afraid of reaching out for help.
I hope this has helped in some way to help you live without worry. Reiki is a journey of self-discovery and Usui gave these tools to help us navigate the way. Remember the concept of “Just for today …” and if worries get the better of you one day then you can simply start again the next day and set the intention “Just for today I release worry”.
My new book, The Reiki Solution, is all about living the Reiki way and integrating the principles – why not check it out?
Until next time, be mindful, live well and be Reiki.