In the Bahamas ashram where I reside for much of the year, it is interesting to note the interplay of the many, many people who come and go. Vacationers and karma yogis (those volunteering through selfless service in the ashram) display similar emotions and often arrive with many of the same problems from their life in the world.
Anxiety and fear are two of the most prevalent emotions that seem to plague people, and in a community of people living in close proximity to one another, it is interesting to observe what transpires. Anxiety is like a disease. Just as when one person catches a cold, if he is not careful, he easily infects others. So do those who carry anxious thoughts and then communicate them to others, spread anxiety.
One person tells his neighbor about the effects of the full moon being negative and causing harmful effects. The neighbor becomes highly frightened and feels intense anxiety in anticipation of the full moon. The first person has relieved himself of the information and feels a little better to have shared it with someone else. The neighbor however, is now burdened with these thoughts and feels anxious. And all of it transpires in the mind, not in any reality. Just as many good things occur with a full moon, as negative effects.
One such interesting positive impact is that a new moon is the time when the sap in a tree is at its lowest. This is a time when loggers cut down the trees and can avoid termites. Termites prefer the trees that have an abundance of sap. This bit of information was shared by a Swami visiting the ashram, as his father grew trees and taught him about the moon’s effects.
Fear can be destructive as it is a deep rooted disease of the mind. Fear clouds our reasoning, dulls the will and intensifies illusion. Anger, greed, passion, delusion and grief are companions of fear. Fear also affects our nervous system and brings about imbalance and disharmony in the functions of the body. This dysfunction gives rise to toxic elements being present in the blood and promotes psycho-somatic ailments. Fear is also a magnet that attracts negative circumstances. This is clearly seen by observing fear inflicted people.
Fearful people cause fear in others. And so the anxiety mentioned above sets in.
By observing others in their habitual process of spreading fear and creating anxiety, I’ve come to realize that it is best to keep anxiety to myself and try to dissipate the negativity and underlying fear that accompanies the anxiety by involving myself in creative work and selfless action. Disengaging from the fearful thoughts helps me to develop the ability to see things in their proper perspective. Fear and anxiety most often include exaggeration and unfounded assumptions.
For some, every day is a new calamity fueled by fear and resulting in anxiety.
As Swami Jyotirmayananda says, “…develop insight into the structure of the subconscious and gradually change that worrying habit. Fill your mind with positive impressions so that each time nature creates a situation for anxiety, immediately your intellect brushes it aside. You have nothing to be anxious about, so train your mind to see clearly and not become overwhelmed by petty things; transcend them. Also, understand those qualities that are contrary to anxiety: calmness of mind, cheerfulness, open-heartedness, joyousness, courage and hope. Promote them all. If you free yourself from anxiety, your mind becomes a garden of spiritual qualities…”
I like to think of this “garden” of the mind, as one filled with beauty, love, patience and joy. Fear and anxiety do not grow well in this type of soil.
Loving Life and Living Love,