If you aren’t one of the forty million of us that admit to experiencing anxiety, know how truly fortunate you are. If you are able to find peace and tranquility without having to commit to a rigorous routine of yoga classes, two or three a day meditations, breath work, mindfulness mantras and workouts at the gym to experience just a modicum of peace, count yourself one of the lucky ones. If you don’t have to get to an event before everyone else, or have to be at the airport hours before the actual time of departure or just having to get to a meeting with a friend or colleague hours before because of the obsessive task master voice in your head that is constantly driving you forward, faster and faster count yourself lucky.
Anxiety is not for the faint of heart. I know this because I have been a nervous person for as long as I can even remember. And, it wasn’t just being nervous. I would take nervousness any day of the week. Anxiety is so much more. Moreover, it is so very intense that it robs whomever experiences it of their life-force.
However, that being said, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We now have choices. I AM learning when I have that feeling of being captured by the fear of anxiety to ask myself? “What is a more appropriate experience that I can participate in right now to change the feeling?” From that vantage point I can gradually become more open-minded instead of feeling that I AM being taken hostage by the emotions of feeling caged in. A prisoner of my own self! For example, to gradually learn to integrate more space in whatever feelings are coming up I don’t have that feeling of being suffocated by them.
Up until now, for me, feeling anxious was the antithesis of feeling free. Now I AM learning that anxiety is a natural response. I don’t have to judge it or myself. Because we live in a culture that lives with this fantasy that we are not supposed to feel anxious, we label and often define it and ourselves as being inappropriate and that somehow we are flawed and not enough – there is something inherently wrong with us and we are not okay. Not only don’t we feel good when we are struggling with anxiety but other people don’t feel comfortable being around us either.
According to the therapist, Bruce Tift, “Anxiety is a completely legitimate and valid, if not a pleasant, aspect of being human. Each of us has to learn to work with anxiety skillfully because it is part of our everyday experience. Because anxiety is real; it’s us. It’s not some alien feeling happening to us. A life without anxiety is not an option.” As Rumi reminds us, it is inside the wound where the light is to be found, a light hidden inside the darkness, that when entered into, reveals itself to be brighter than a billion suns.
On that note the more we can practice mindfulness with ourselves we may be able to cultivate the capacity to stay as they say in the Heartmath technology to practice neutrality instead of being at the mercy of our current circumstances. As Tift points out in his brilliant book, ‘Already Free’, this accomplishment has incredible benefits! We don’t have to feel divided any longer since that division we created within ourselves just leads to more chronic anxiety. Moreover, we know that a house divided cannot stand by itself! By breathing in through our hearts and out through our hearts we are not in fight or flight response. We entrain our minds with our hearts letting our parasympathetic nervous system know it’s okay to just relax. There is no Saber-tooth tiger chasing us.
As we take a stand for our own value we are starting to trust ourselves more and more. Because of this breakthrough we can make an agreement with ourselves to make certain that we will not allow anyone who is not for us to be with us. Especially our own Self!
For myself the struggle is losing its hold on me. In recognizing how I continue to dissociate with my repressed emotions my work is to recover the disowned aspects of myself and to learn how to be with my anxiety instead of repressing it so in the service of healing how I can have a conscious relationship with it rather than suppress or deny that it is showing up for me in ways I have yet to imagine.
Up until now the way my mind worked is as soon as I felt a sensation my immediate response was to interpret it and create a story on that feeling/sensation. In the wonderful book, ‘Solve to Be Happy’ the author, Mo Gawdat, A CEO at recounts that when he is in a meeting at Google and someone hands him their project, if he doesn’t like what he sees he will tell them that they can do better! Much like this practice in his work life, when a thought he doesn’t like arises within himself, he can then tell himself “mind, you can do better!”
We don’t have to create a whole text or discussion. We then can create new habits and eclipse the old self with a new up-leveled version of how we wish to be. One of the greatest lessons you will learn is that trying to achieve happiness by “getting what you want” is actually limiting your happiness. You end up struggling with life instead of experiencing it. True happiness comes only when your inner energy is free to flow. That unhampered flow is, indeed, the goal.
Whatever imprisons us is our way out of those chains. To just know we are already free is so liberating! We are so much stronger than our fears that are continuing to try to control us. Together we can break the cycle and get well individually and collectively. That is our goal to create a new Humanity – There is strength in numbers! If we want really great lives, real growth, real spirituality, it’s all about letting go of those blocks that we are holding inside of ourselves those symbols as they appear are carriers of incredible wisdom and guidance. Those are our nuggets of gold and in the end our great teachers.
I am so infinitely grateful to the numerous friends, teachers, therapists, counselors and guides who continue to show up moment-by- moment for me and for the benefit of all of us. For everyone out there is following their soul’s divine plan to do their best to live from their open hearts with dignity and grace there is no language to share my infinite gratitude. Thank you all so very much for all you are and all you doing for one another and the evolution of this planet.
And, last but not least A Very Happy Birthday to my beautiful and talented daughter, Nicole Joy. May this be the year all your dreams come true. Have the best birthday week ever! With great love-now and forever more…