Overcoming distress

It can probably run faster than light, our mind. It runs incessantly, throughout the day. It starts before our feet touch the ground in the morning and does not stop until they are off it at night. It sees everything, it weighs everything, it judges, assesses, makes sense of…

And yet, this act of judging and assessing often feels inadequate, even after many years of practice and refining. In fact, it may itself cause much distress.

The impatient ego

I have a strong tendency to think and analyse. When something seems to cause me discomfort or distress, I immediately look for reasons.

This may not otherwise be a problem, if not for the ego. The ego is not very patient, or thorough. It wants the safety of an explanation quickly. It doesn’t want to wait for correct answers. If it cannot see the reasons right away, the ego finds it difficult to accept that it doesn’t know what is going on.

So when I am feeling distressed, I sometimes form conclusions that, only a little while later, may seem unwise.

The problems with analyzing and reasoning

1. Loosing truth by seeking it. The very effort towards finding a root cause sometimes seems to take me away from truth. I may decide on something as the cause, only to realize later that my focus on it was keeping me away from other things that were equally, if not more responsible.

If I overdo it, I sometimes end up with more confusion than I started with.

Also, when I think too much, I loose my gut feeling, that could have given me a good clue. Have you heard that advice about choosing between 2 things that seem equally appealing – go away for sometime, do something else, then come back and just pick whichever one you like at first glance?

You have to pick without thinking.

This sometimes seems to work for me. The gut feeling is often right. Too much of analysis drowns its voice.

2. Experiencing Vs analyzing. Looking for causes and reasons also takes me away from experiencing things. The time lost in distress is any how gone. It won’t come back. But if I sit down and analyze for long, I loose still more time away from experiencing what I am doing, I drift away from being present and enjoying the moment.

Time spent in analysis, is time taken away from experiencing life. The more we get into analyzing, the more we get disconnected from our inner self and from the world.

Of course this does not mean we should just let go of our mental faculties. But a better balance, perhaps, is called for.

3. Causes have multiple layers. Over a period of time, and over repeated efforts, I have seen that the causes behind things that bothers me, have multiple layers. If I don’t stop after finding a cause and keep analyzing, I find still deeper reasons.

Say, if I get distressed while working, and I decide that it is because my work is boring, I am probably missing a deeper reason that I am working too long. If I accept this deeper cause, I may be missing that I am being too impatient and craving accomplishment right away. If I accept this as a reason, I may be missing that I am trying too much to control things…

This often leads me on a wild goose chase. But, increasingly, the whole thing seems to come down to one reason – I had drifted away from the path that my heart craves. I had allowed my intellect to lead me away from what my heart truly desires.

Which brings us to a different way of tackling distress…

A different way, feeling from the heart

Is finding reasons behind the distress the only way to get our happiness back? How about just letting go of the urge to find reasons, and doing what the heart desires?

If I get distressed at work, I can look within and see what my heart craves to do right now. How about I do just that? This requires faith that things will be all right, even if we don’t try to control everything. It requires faith that the Universe is friendly. If my heart asks me to just pick up my bike and ride it for the rest of the day, how about doing just that, without looking for reasons? It might seem counterproductive to the one who believes that the mind has to be tamed. It may make sense to the one who believes things will just be all right.

It also requires you to be able to differentiate your heart’s desire from the ego’s demands. If you leave work to go think about the next investment you are going to make, you are satisfying your ego’s demands for security. You are not showing faith in a friendly Universe. But if you leave work to do exactly that, which makes you happy and full of life right now, you do hear your heart’s voice.

For me, if I allow my heart to just express itself well, usually all troubles go away. How this happens?What do I exactly end up doing? That is not fixed. I may do something, I may not do anything at all. It all depends on what the heart wants to express through me in that instant. But in spite of the uncertainty, I get past all troubles somehow. It almost feels like something higher led me out of it.

*****

Why don’t you try the option of feeling, of trying to connect with your heart? Try to surrender decisions to it and see. It is an instant relief and it often leads to surprising and exciting new results. You may be led down paths you would not have thought of taking earlier, but you may just find that you like these new paths.

Image credits: Danilo Rizzuti

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