I began observing my thoughts last year and began having digestive issues and severe anxiety soon after. After a few months, I officially left the religion of my birth. I have been dealing with guilt and fear since my decision. It is as though I no longer have a safety net to fall back on any more. Though I am meditating and feel moments of peace (rarely), I am still uncomfortable navigating this spiritual terrain without any firm belief system. Any tips to alleviate my situation? The worst part is the lack of trust.
This can be a useful stage for you. Without firm beliefs or systems of thought to abide by, the mind feels unstable, unsure and uncertain. The mind hates this, since it always tries to uphold its own security with solidity of content, beliefs and concepts. You may feel as if your very identity is under threat. This can be very helpful. What once supported the mind-made self, the conceptual “me” - has fallen away, and now fear and guilt remain due to the exposed vulnerability of the mind and its identity.
The solution is to become comfortable with this fear, guilt and uncertainty. With no set beliefs for your mind to cling to, this can be most useful for true spirituality, but your mind will resist and tell you otherwise. If I am to use the word God, God is beyond all concepts, words and beliefs, so you do not need them.
Surrender your resistance to the current inner turmoil. Fully allow it without wishing it were different, without expecting to be happy, without feeling responsible for the inner trouble. Simply no longer resist. No longer resist resistance either (which will habitually arise as part of anxiety or any other inner discomfort).
These feelings are ok, they are not “wrong”. Don’t label them. If you feel alone, feel fully alone, if you feel vulnerable, be fully vulnerable. To embrace these moods or feelings is to go beyond them. It may well be unpleasant at first, I am not saying it will all be a joy - at first there are layers of conditioning that must be released, and they can be released by themselves, without your effort, when you allow them, when you do not take ownership or responsibility for these troubling inner energies.
Let the feelings come. If they wish to visit you, let them visit. They do not stay for long when you no longer push them away. They can not stand to be with someone who welcomes them fully, who wants them to arise so that they can be felt and witnessed and allowed to be.
Notice that instantly if you have the attitude (without even thinking): “Ok, whatever experience wants to arise, let it come. I will no longer fight or be afraid. Let it do its worst. I will only watch what happens” – then the power is back with you. When you fear or feel a victim of these emotions, you give your power away.
You are bigger than these feelings. Their existence depends on you. Your existence does not depend on them. The power is with you.
You can also be aware that these troubling energies wish to cause trouble and sustain themselves. They want to cause disturbance and feed off of more drama. Let them, but be aware that these energies are not who you are. They arise in you, but they are not you.
In terms of lack of trust – if you feel you lack trust, fully allow yourself to feel a lack of trust. Don’t experience lack of trust and then believe you should be fully trusting. Let yourself feel the way you do. This nonjudgemental state of allowance burns up what is false. There is natural trust beneath the conditioning of the fearful mind. All is ok, allow your feelings without judging or interpreting them.
You don’t need any sense of safety net. The mind craves it, and is now creating a fuss, telling you that you need one. Don’t believe the thoughts of the mind, just as an experiment. Thoughts can arise as they wish, but you need not believe them.
If you feel to pray, by all means pray. Prayer need not be religious. If you feel guilt that you have left God by leaving the religion - this is the conditioning of religion. God has no conditions. God has no religion, as Gandhi said. The highest prayer is to surrender the personal will – the will that wishes things (particularly thoughts and feelings in your case) – be a certain way. If you no longer wished your inner state to be different, you would be free, and the energies would lose their power. All is the energy of Life. Embrace pain, guilt or fear as if you have chosen it be there (or as if all is from God, if that helps), and see what happens.
Perhaps more could be said, but I don’t wish to overload you. If you feel to get in touch again, feel free by all means.
This inner storm will not last, and is often what forces people away from man-made beliefs and into the unassailable truth of existence. No longer judge yourself, allow yourself to feel however you feel. This is forgiveness, and is the shortcut to freedom. Don’t be a peace-seeker, let peace come to you. Be aloof and neutral. All is ok.
Thanks for your message,