a couple of months ago

My method for not worrying

Recently I realized that it might be valuable for me to describe the “internal process” that I observe that seems to “lead” to various benefits. In this essay, I will specifically describe an internal process that leads to the benefit of not worrying.

I struggled with worry a lot in my earlier life. When I was in school I worried about being bullied. I worried about kids hitting me during recess. I worried about how others might judge my body. I worried about others finding out how weird I was. I worried about my parents judging me. I worried about getting the right answers and performing well.

I got really skilled at worry. But I didn’t realize that I was skilled at worry. I thought that worry was something that was happening to me.

And so I continued to worry and worry and worry well into my adult life. I worried about finances. I worried about finding love. I worried about losing love. I worried about figuring out the right things to do. I worried about making the right choices. I worried about avoiding every possible unpleasantness – discomfort, pain, loss, anger, fear, death, etc.

Eventually I worried about the worry. I started to realize how awful the worry was. I started to see how the chronic worrying was taking its toll. I had terrible insomnia. I had terrible digestion. I was lying awake for hours every night, burping, straining, thinking, imagining, hoping, fearing.

My life was falling apart. I couldn’t hold it all together any longer. I worried about that too. I worried about losing my grip on so-called reality. I worried about losing my ability to keep on keeping on. And I worried about that worry.

I do not worry now.

Please understand that is not a boast. It is not something I believe makes me superior.

To be honest, there is no one here to boast about. No one to be superior.

But there is a process that I can describe that completely undoes worry. It is a worry-dissolving process.

I am sharing this with you here because I believe that if you look sincerely for yourself, you may be able to discover this process too. And if you discover this process, you too many discover that you no longer worry.

I hope so.

The process begins (and ends) with observing what I call worry – or even the hints of what I call worry – or even the faintest whiff of a hint of that.

I worried because I did not see the true nature of worry. By seeing the actual nature of the experience I called worry, the worry is undone.

So I observe the direct experience.

There is an idea – that comes from mechanical memory – that worry is a force or event or entity or some kind of external thing that is affecting me. But this direct inquiry that I am describing calls that assumption into question.

When I worried, I assumed that my mechanical memory regarding the nature of this present experience was correct. In other words, I had a thought that said that this experience is worry, and I accepted that as truth unquiestioningly.

But when I look presently – as I am inviting you to do for yourself – I can see truthfully that I do not know that this experience is worry.

Worry was a mechanical memory overlayed on the present. The present is not worry. But I cannot see the present clearly if I stop short by accepting the mechanical memory overlay.

Here’s another way to perhaps understand what I am describing. It is seeing as a child might see. If I have no past to reference or consult to give me the “answer” regarding what this present experience is, I am simply seeing.

That does not mean that mechanical memory may not be triggered. It certainly might! I can observe memories surfacing. I can observe the tendency to latch on to those memories as being useful in
“dealing with” the present.

And that is good news! Because if I simply see the memories as they are – which is memory and not the truth about now – then I necessarily also instantly am aware of my inherent freedom. I am observing the memory. I am not the memory. Neither do I need to try to distance myself or dissociate from the memory because in the simple seeing of what is as it is, I recognize that this is no threat.

Memory cannot harm me. And what is happening now is not harming me presently. So I am okay. I am free. And I am free to continue to observe.

This is important because if I “let myself off the hook” at this first glimpse, I shortchange myself. Something even richer and more rewarding is possible. And it is available when I simply remain observant.

When I say “simply remain observant”, what I mean is that I notice my reactivity. I notice compulsions to fix, figure out, get, get rid of, etc. And I allow rest rather than indulgence. Naturally, in this non-indulgence I remain effortlessly observant.

As I observe in this way, I see conditioning surfacing. Not just memory. All kinds of conditioning.

And I just notice. I notice the habits of reacting. I notice the impulse to avoid, to distract, to imagine, to armor, to protect, to pretend, to lash out, to blame, etc.

And I do nothing about them. I don’t indulge them. Neither do I resist them. I just keep telling the truth. The truth which is presently obvious, which is that I am still, restfully aware. I am neither indulgence nor resistance. I am not achieving anything. I am not winning nor losing. I am not progressing. I am not regressing.

I am simply aware of whatever is. And I am aware before, during, and after all the reactivity. The reactivity – which I previously mistook to be myself – is simply an imagination. It is not an independent reality. And it certainly has no connection whatsoever with the present reality of what is.

Because what is remains undisturbed regardless of what shows up in imagination/reactivity.

As long as I continue to observe, I continue to see this clearly. There is nothing to do. No hope of getting it right. No hope of fixing it. No hope of predicting the future accurately. No hope of knowing the correct name or identity of anything.

There is no worry here. Worry is dissolved.

This is not a trick of mind. This is the most real thing I know of. It is not about calling worry by another name. It is about seeing the reality behind or underneath or within what I called worry.

And that reality which reveals itself if and when I simply look, is empty of all that I imagined was there.

How can I worry when the fictions of threat and future and separation are exposed?

How can I worry when the fiction of my false identity is exposed?

Mechanical mind proposes countless reasons to worry. So please don’t think I’m suggesting that mechanical mind must stop. Nor must mechanical mind agree with what I see.

In fact, mechanical mind will not agree. And it will keep on doing what it does – recreating the past and calling it the pursuit of a better future.

But mechanical mind becomes my unwitting ally when I simply see. Because now, every objection of mechanical mind, every compulsion, is a gateway to happiness here now.

I see the false as false. Mechanical mind is my ally because it presents the false for me to see.

My only “job” is to remain restful.

Why get involved? Why try to protect what was a fiction from the start?

Joey Lott

Joey Lott is the author of numerous books, including The Best Thing That Never Happened and The Little Book of Big Healing. He lives in southern Vermont with his wife and children.

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