I wake up many mornings with an anxious feeling. Sometimes I have something specific to worry about, sometimes I just feel anxious. Although I don’t enjoy this feeling, it doesn’t bother me like it used to. I used to believe it. It used to last through my day. It was that feeling that prompted me to begin my meditation practice.
Now, when I wake up with a feeling of anxiety, I check the time. If it is 2 or 3 am I may get up and meditate for half an hour. Usually after I meditate I fall right back asleep. If it is 5 am or later, I will get up and begin my day. I may do some light exercise then meditate for half an hour, or just meditate. My anxiety rarely lasts more that a few minutes into my meditation.
When I see my anxiety dissolve so consistently, I learn not to believe in it. It is a feeling of generalized or specific fear. I can’t think it away, but when I sit with it, it leaves. Nothing to fear.
Buddhism is refreshing because it talks about suffering. Suffering is important to talk about, because if we don’t talk about it, we just suffer silently. Sometimes, when we suffer silently, we don’t even realize we are suffering. We know we feel bad, but we expect ourselves to feel good, so we can’t acknowledge our negative feelings.
If we are silently suffering, unaware that we are suffering and Buddha comes along and tells us that he notices our suffering, we are instantly refreshed. Our awareness is suddenly in tune with our feeling. That is refreshing. Another refreshing thing Buddha tells us is that everybody suffers. Suddenly we are not suffering alone. We are not deviant because we suffer. We are human in our suffering.
As soon as we realize that we and everybody else suffers, then we can work with our suffering to find a way out. That is the most refreshing thing the Buddha tells us, that there is a way out of suffering. Buddhism begins with the idea that suffering is a part of our experience, that it has a cause and a cure. Recognizing suffering is the first step on the path. There are many opportunities for refreshment along the way.
Being certain has certain limitations. If doubt creeps in, the bottom could fall out. That’s what makes doubt so wonderful. There is no doubt about doubt.
If you fall in love, you don’t have to be certain that it is the right love. It is fine to fall in doubtful love. When you are comfortable with doubt and welcome doubt, the doubt becomes more certain than certainty. Doubt is fluid. It recognizes that everything changes. If you demand certainty, doubt drives you crazy. If you want a certain love and you are not loved in a certain way, you will begin to doubt the love, you will doubt yourself and you will become uncomfortable.
If you fall in a doubtful love, you will love just as fully, but you will be open to what happens. When doubt creeps in, you welcome it. The doubts confirm your love, because you are in a doubtful love. You can even doubt your doubts.
If you look for certainty, you will become certain about your fears and your fears will be your reality. When you maintain a certain doubt, you don’t have to be cynical, you just recognize that things are not only as they appear. Then you can look with wonder at how they do appear. When you welcome doubt and explore your doubts you fly, because you allow yourself to fall with no ground.
Courage is action despite fear. Everyday, we act courageously. Speaking through shyness is an act of courage. Getting out of bed in the morning and facing the day can take tremendous courage. Telling the truth to a friend takes a lot of courage. Writing an answer on a test requires courage. The more fear and insecurity you have, the more courage you display in your activities.
We are all afraid. Fear is common. Fortunately, courage is abundant. When you recognize how much courage you have, you don’t have to worry so much about your fears. Each fear that you experience with awareness presents an opportunity to be courageous. If you do not pay attention to your fear, you just feel afraid and the fear can paralyze you. When you notice your fear and remember how courageous you are, you can do what you need to do despite fear.
Courage is held in high esteem in society. People come to think of it as an attribute of rare heros, who put their lives on the line for the benefit of others. Courage should be held in high esteem. It is an attribute of all of us, which allows us to function in a scary world. If we practice being mindful of our worries and fears, we will notice how incredibly courageous we are everyday.
When you worry, you can often trace your feeling back to what you think somebody else is thinking of you. Sometimes you don’t even have to trace, you are simply worried about what somebody else is thinking of you. If you are not worried about what somebody is thinking of you, then you are probably worried that somebody is not thinking of you.
Mostly what people think of you, if they think of you, is positive. People likely concern themselves more with what they think you think of them.
By recognizing that you’re thinking about what others are thinking about you, you can save yourself some worry, because you can always remind yourself that it is not really their thinking, but your thinking, that is causing your worries. Because you are so wonderful, just trying your best, you have nothing to worry about.
Pleasure will lead to pain and pain will lead to pleasure. We tend to follow the path to pain by pursuing pleasure. Many follow the path to pleasure by seeking pain. Neither path is the wrong path. Both lead through pleasure and pain. It’s just nice to know which path you are taking.
When you do a hated chore, that is taking the pain path to pleasure. People work hard with the idea that if they suffer through their work, they will eventually reap the promised rewards.
When you spend your free time amusing yourself, procrastinating your responsibilities, that is taking the pleasure path to pain. Eventually people’s responsibilities catch up with them and they suffer all the more because they are not able to do as they please.
Seeking pleasure is an art. Enduring pain is a discipline. Pleasure and pain are so interrelated, it is pointless to seek one and avoid the other. There is tremendous pleasure in working hard on a difficult task. There is tremendous pain in a love affair.
Whatever your experience, if you use awareness, you will appreciate the pain in your pleasures and you will approach your pains with the confidence that there is pleasure within. The basic path is joy, pleasure and pain act as your guides.
What you are, what you think you are and what others think you are, are all different. What is the real you? What you think you are is shaped by what you think others think of you. You have developed a way to think of yourself that you would like others to adopt. Unfortunately, other people experience you and they have their own ideas about what you are. Sometimes they will think better of you and sometimes they will think worse. Mostly what they think of you is all tied up in what they think of themselves. Somewhere in there each of you has a real you that is lost in all those ideas.
In order to get a sense of the real you, you need to notice what it is that you want people to think about you. If you notice a difference between what you think about you, what you want people to think about you, and what you think people think of you, the real you lies in that difference. You are not right, they are not right, there is an unknown something in there that is the real you.
Most of our energy is spent creating and projecting and protecting an idea of ourselves that is constantly changing. Beneath it all is something, something wonderful.
Imagine how life would be if your best friend lived your life for you. You would still be you, sitting on a cloud, enjoying a magnificent view. Your best friend would be down on Earth living life. You, on your cloud, would become your best friend’s guru. You would have a direct link to your friend’s mind and you could give advice as you read their thoughts.
From your cloud, what would you tell your friend when they worry about how they look? What would you tell your friend when they feel like they can’t handle a situation? From your cloud, you would fill your friend with confidence and help them to develop amazing habits. You could console them through heartbreak and guide them on amazing adventures.
This is the power that you have over yourself. The only thing that gets in the way is your self. How could you have such confidence in your friend, but doubts about yourself? You just need to find your cloud and become your own best friend.
Not only do you deserve to be happy, you are completely capable of happiness. If you have trouble feeling happy, then you should remember that what you need to be happy is within you. If you know why you are unhappy, you are lucky because you have a story. If you can imagine that a change in your circumstance would make you happy, then you have hope. If you don’t know why you are unhappy and you feel that nothing will make you happy, then you are sad and wrong.
When you have a story for your unhappiness, you can say, I am unhappy because… No matter how compelling that reason is, it is an idea that you have become attached to. If you are unhappy because somebody betrayed you, then your happiness lies in how you accept the betrayal.
If you think that your circumstance is causing unhappiness, you could say, I would be happy if… You might think you would be happy if somebody loved you or loved you better.That is also an idea that you have become attached to. Your happiness lies in accepting your life as it is, without that love.
If you are generally unhappy with no basis in reason or circumstance, then you are attached to your unhappiness. At the base of your unhappiness is happiness. You need to accept the idea that happiness is available to you.
In any case, if you want to find happiness, you have to believe that happiness is a basic part of life. Everything changes, reasons, circumstances and outlooks. With only a change of outlook, happiness will come to you. When you focus on your experience of unhappiness, you will see your way to happiness. It is there for you, always available.