Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

What to Do When Worry Overwhelms Us
By Chaitanya Charan Das   |  Dec 22, 2014

Worry is a natural human response to life’s uncertainties. Yet what is natural can become unnatural if it becomes our only response, for then worry overwhelms us, reducing us to emotional wrecks.

We may not be able to stop worry from attacking us, but we can stop it from overwhelming us. If we allow the worrisome thought unfiltered entry, it soon expands to fill our consciousness, making us paralyzed or frenzied, incapable of any constructive action. What allows worry entry and space in our consciousness is our thinking about the problem. The more we think about it, the more worry penetrates and pervades.

I hear the protest, “How can I not think about the problem? If I don’t think about it, how will I deal with it? And if I don’t deal with it, it will destroy me.”

Yes, we do need to deal with the problem, but thinking undiscerningly about it may well be the worst way of dealing with it. When we feel threated by a problem, our thinking often becomes undiscerning in the sense that we lose control of our thoughts – they take control of us. Acquiring a life and momentum of their own, they drag us down into feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Through it all, we industriously hold on to the worrisome problem, thinking that we are tackling it, but actually we are being tackled by it – tackled to the ground and even below it.

To prevent such a downslide of our consciousness, we need to provide it an uplifting hold. The best such hold is the highest reality, God. One of his names is Hari, the Lord who steals away impurities including worries. When we meditate on him, praying for strength and guidance, the Bhagavad-gita (18.58) assures that we pass over all obstacles. We feel ourselves emotionally, intellectually and spiritually raised above our circumstances, somewhat akin to a person airlifted from the arena of an exploding volcano. When we view the problem from a distanced and detached perspective, we perceive aspects and conceive solutions that we had missed earlier when the problem was looming above us.

Devotional meditation thus provides tangible relief, but to effectively access its potency, we need an appropriate process and adequate practice.

Mantras comprising the holy names of God are the best airlifting process. And regular meditation on those divine sounds comprises the background practice for averting acute anxiety attacks. During those attacks, our practice will enable us to hold on to the divine and thus rise above the problems.

By thus retraining ourselves to hold on to Hari instead of worry, we can go and grow through problems gracefully.

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