Worrying is one of the stranger habits of humans – there are many others, including vanity, dishonesty, conceit, deceit, blue taffeta ballgowns and starting statements or answers to questions with the word, 'so' (similarly to if I'd started this, 'So worrying is one of the stranger etc. etc...', but we'll talk about the irritating 'so syndrome' another time because it is actually rather psycho-anthropologically interesting meanwhile...).
When we're newly born all the way until we're thinking in words, before societal conditioning has had a chance to disrupt and modify our natural mode we don't worry. We either feel alright or not-alright, satiated or hungry, at ease or suffering from colic, held or neglected, and so on.
But by the time the language and people-pleasing faculties have been activated in the prefrontal lobes around 4 going on for 5, once we're aware of the cause and effect equation, we start anticipating rather than remaining present-centered.
In anticipating we're either excited by an idea or worried.
Worry consists in concocting stories in the prefrontal lobes, in the form of 'movies' projected more or less onto the back of the forehead bone, and then reacting to these by tensing in the solar plexus region, in turn interrupting the movement of the diaphragm, which makes the breathing jagged and shallow.
When the breathing is uneven and shallow, the whole body-mind setup loses its adjustment and an air of gloom takes command.
There's something oddly alluring and eventually compelling about gloom.
Yet it's precisely this state of gloom we're essentially worried about feeling. We don't want to feel the gloom, yet it's the very act of worrying that causes it in the first place.
We then devise various distraction strategies for avoiding feeling it, rather than simply desisting from worrying.
Obviously we're not cognitive of any of this as wee nippers, and so patterns of what essentially amounts to self-destruction set in.
And before we know it, we're so convinced worrying is a natural function we don't even know there is an option to simply not worry.
And if we don't do something at some point to address it, we'll go to the grave reducing the joy of being alive for no other reason than being habituated.
If you enjoy gloom more than joy, no need to read the following, but if you get the sense you're missing out on a treasure, here's a short protocol to follow whenever beset by worry.
1 – adjust your breathing – lengthen, hence slow down the out-breath as much as possible, and the in-breath is by and by obliged to slow down to match. Wait for that to happen, then set cruise-control and let the breathing continue slowly by itself.
2 – adjust your posture – worry contracts and compresses it – to counter this, expand it instead. Specifically, elongate the spine by urging the crown of the head towards the ceiling or sky, broaden the shoulders and thoracic region by letting the shoulders drop.
3 – raise the breastbone to let the chest expand and do so without arching the back – keep the back convex.
4 – soften all your muscles and soft tissue – let all unnecessary tension dissolve.
5 – push back internally against your kidneys and feel them relax.
6 – walk your mind to the back of your brain and sit it down with its back resting up against the inside of the rear wall of the skull, and bear witness from here.
7 – note that you're in receipt of the greatest possible gift or prize of all – you're alive – then intend to activate and perpetuate a state of joy about it. Trust your intention to bear fruit, trust the Tao, the path to provide all necessary resources of whatever sort, to support that joy, let go and carry on as you were.
This simple act of internal repositioning, once practiced pretty much all the time, radically transforms and hence improves your experience of being here.
So (it's acceptable to use 'so' in this way, incidentally) henceforth, whenever anyone says, 'don't worry' you'll now know exactly what to do.