Years ago I started a business, and for the next 20+ years often found it difficult to fall asleep, then woke feeling anxious. Not long after starting the business I also became step-father to four young children. My monthly outgoings jumped, then continued to rise - and with this, the anxiety grew. Roll forward a few years and shockingly I discovered that my wife had been cheating. I remember the feeling - it was surreal - a mixture of unreality and the ground under my feet becoming quicksand.
Devastating and traumatic as this was, I decided to try to keep the family together and the marriage going, but after a very difficult year, my wife moved out of our home, leaving me to manage the arrangements for her children and our possessions. During the next two years, going through a very difficult divorce, I found myself unable to focus on the business which consequently went into decline, ultimately almost leading to bankruptcy. Then, when this was all at its most intense, my father died.
That whole period of my life was like a never ending nightmare. Acute anxiety was constantly with me, and in the latter stages, before the wave had crashed and receded, I went through a short bout of dark depression.
The collapse of ‘my world’, made me question everything I thought I knew. And the pain sent me inward in search of answers. I looked to spiritual teachings and meditation for something that would relieve me of the anxiety and depression. Then, totally out of the blue, an understanding revealed itself...
It was a 'light bulb' moment. A revelation! Like learning a fantastic new piece of information or waking out of a dream. I suddenly knew that my unexamined beliefs, thoughts and feelings were not all that I was! There was a deeper 'something' in the background that was also me - and I could go there, like stepping backwards, and then watching all that I was experiencing in my mind and body from that place. I could retreat back away from the thoughts and feelings into inner peace...
From that day onward my anxiety, the pain and the depression began to melt away. This happened because I now knew they were not as real as I had believed them to be. They still took me over regularly, and I continued to wake up feeling anxious, but I now had a way out - I would consciously go deeper, into a place that was not involved.
I soon also discovered that during the day I was less pulled into minute-by-minute fluctuations in my thoughts or mood.
In time, emotions, thinking, mental states, depression, sadness, anger, anxiety - they lost their ability to overwhelm me. If I stepped back, away from them, into my inner self, they immediately lost their power.
As more time passed I learned to rest in that place - the place of 'The Watcher' - and it became obvious that this was 'Me' at the deepest level.
Descriptions of it are difficult, 'Pure Awareness', 'Emptiness' are good. Resting there is stillness and freedom.