If There Were No Problem
“This is what enlightenment is all about – a deep understanding that there is no problem. Then, with no problem to solve, what will you do? Immediately you start living. You will eat, you will sleep, you will love, you will work, you will have a chit-chat, you will sing, you will dance – what else is there to do?” – Osho
I don’t know about you, but I’ve often found myself going around with a perceived “problem” having taken up residence in my head. It might be a personal issue, like a bill that I’m not sure how to afford, the long list of tasks I haven’t yet completed, or a snarky comment that someone made that’s eating at me. It could take the form of concern for a family member who’s not feeling well, or for a friend who’s suffering from anxiety. Or it could be a general worry about the state of the world – where war might erupt next, or how we’ll eat when all the bees die off. Most of this stuff isn’t even anything I have any control over!
Why do we do this? Perhaps it’s some need of our ego minds to feel like we’re being useful. If we can have some sort of conundrum to chew on, for which we can come up with possible solutions, then we’re being productive, right? Or maybe it’s an emotional struggle, where drama of some sort causes us to feel real, important, and needed. It’s definitely a human tendency, and one that can keep us in a constant state of low-level stress. This wears on us, both in terms of our physical health and our mental and emotional well-being.
Slowly and gradually, I’ve been teaching myself to let go of attachment to “the problem” and the need to somehow fix it. The first step is to be aware of it. This requires quiet time to think and ponder and reflect. When we fill every waking moment with TV, Facebook, socializing, and reading, we don’t have the space for observation. Our anxiety becomes mere background noise, and we don’t even realize it’s there.
Creating opportunities to observe your thoughts is time well spent. Don’t try to change them at first, just look at them, breathe, relax your muscles, and repeat. Try to get as relaxed as you can, and let your thoughts drift by like clouds. Practice this for at least five minutes every day.
After getting a handle on noticing when you’re in worry mode, you can begin to let it go. In the course of your day, when you notice feelings of anxiety or stress, stop what you’re doing, just for a moment. Roll your shoulders, take a couple of deep breaths, and let it go. Repeat throughout the day.
Your fixation on problems won’t vanish overnight. Accept your feelings and be compassionate with yourself. Know that this is a learned behavior, and that it will take focus to release it. With patience and practice, though, you can teach yourself to let go of those never-ending problems that were once so huge. And then you’ll have much more space for fun, creativity, and love – and for creative solutions to life’s actual challenges.