A few weeks ago we were having a heartwarming visit with our two younger grandchildren, whom we hadn’t seen for many months due to our travel schedule. After enjoying their favorite pastime at Ananda Village—visiting the goat dairy—we were driving back through the peaceful, forested hills to our home.
From the backseat of the car, the little five-year-old said quietly, “I hope that they don’t cut down all the trees.”
“Oh, no,” we replied reassuringly. “We only cut down the dead trees and the underbrush, to keep the forest healthy and prevent fires.”
“I don’t mean you,” he expressed with a concern beyond his age, “but there are people who want to cut down all the trees.”
I turned and caught the look of worry on his little face, and wondered what he had heard to elicit this response. The anxiousness I saw briefly in our grandson is widely reflected throughout our society today.
Whatever the cause, more Americans than ever before are suffering from stress, anxiety, and depression. A chiropractor we know said that in thirty years of practice, he has never seen so much physical tension and related illnesses in his patients.
What can we do about it? Is there something to break the toxic downward pull of mental anxiety and worry that is plaguing so many people?
Paramhansa Yogananda gave us some good, practical advice. First, he said: “Three times a day, shake off all worries. At seven o’clock in the morning, say to yourself, ‘All my worries of the night are cast out, and from 7 to 8 a.m. I refuse to worry. I am on a worry fast.’ From noon to 1 p.m., say, ‘I am cheerful, I will not worry.’ In the evening between six and nine o’clock mentally make a strong resolution: ‘Within these three hours I will not worry. No matter how tempting it is to indulge in a worry feast, I will resist the temptation. I must not sabotage my peace-heart by shocks of worries. I am on a worry fast.’”
Yoganandaji concluded by saying that after you succeed in worry fasting for certain hours of the day, try to do it for one or two weeks at a time. He also encouraged us in these three other practices:
1. Feast regularly on the society of those with joyful minds until your mind is filled with sunshine.
2. Perform tirelessly right actions without concern for their results.
3. Drink copiously from the fresh waters of peace, vitalized by your determination to be cheerful under all circumstances.
As lighthearted as these suggestions may seem, are they easy to put into practice? Of course not: It takes all of our focus and will power to succeed in overcoming worries. But remember, we have a hidden ally in our Divine Friend. Yoganandaji wrote in his poem, “God! God! God!”:
When boisterous storms of trials shriek, And when worries howl at me, I will drown their noises, loudly chanting: God! God! God!
Following the teachings of the great spiritual teachers, there is so much we can do to transform our own consciousness and also to help others. Shall we begin together?