A big problem with feeling constantly anxious, is that we separate from our precious selves. We mentally check-out and leave our five senses, our intuition, our logical reasoning and the present moment. The worrying thoughts take over and we forget to breathe properly, feel our feelings and notice the simple pleasures in life. For a person with long term anxiety, this becomes their normal. This was my normal, in stints, until I hit my mid-thirties.
What happens when we get so caught up in our heads, is problematic because we’re relying far too much on the very negative messaging that the ego-mind is running. We lose touch with other cues and reminders that we’re safe, worthwhile and free to choose our thoughts. Anxiety becomes the dominant emotional state.
When I first began reading about the benefits of meditation and more specifically, being present, I got it on an intellectual level and I thought, yes, but that’s for people who are easy-going and calm. I was neither. I was a control freak and although I may have looked calm on the outside, I was a mass of churning anxiety and preparedness for the worst. My stomach is tightening, just at the memory.
At 27, I was seeing a psychologist to help me process and recover from the ending of my first marriage, which had occurred two years prior. Yep, divorced at 25. I distinctly remember my lovely and very experienced psych saying to me: Don’t you ever slow down? Do you ever stop and smell the roses? I think I may have just looked at her blankly, because I honestly had no idea what she meant. My life revolved around speaking fast, thinking fast, walking and running fast and most of all, making snap judgments about everything and everyone. This is how my anxious mind worked.
The part of me that sought out a meditation course and yoga classes in my twenties, didn’t really understand just how much I needed these tools in my daily life. It took a couple of children and a lot of self-imposed stress as a new mum, to finally break me. When my children were around one and three, I realised that I had to commit to daily meditation and a weekly yoga class, to retain some semblance of sanity.
Meditation is my medicine
So I did it. Every afternoon while my kids were sleeping, I sat on my bed with pillows stuffed behind my back, and forced myself, very painfully at times, to meditate for 30 minutes. I was pretty bad at it, in that I spent plenty of time thinking and ruminating but nonetheless, I did it. One of my early strategies to bring myself back into the present moment, was to actually just start again. I’d open my eyes, move around a bit, resettle on my seat and then close my eyes and try again, with the intention of calming my mind, by staying in my body.
It worked a treat and although for years, I still felt like a beginner, meditation helped me to feel calmer and more positive within days of starting. It’s really that powerful as an antidote to an anxious mind.
Fast forward fifteen years and I’m still meditating, but in different ways and with different requirements. I now have teens and I’m working, so my lifestyle and life stressors are different. I love incorporating movement into my meditation practice. Going for long walks, dancing and stretching are options that I combine with regular seated meditations. And what I’ve discovered is this: The capacity for presence does not have a limit. We can become ever more connected with our bodies and with the present moment, to infinity.
And it’s not really about getting better at any of this, it’s about surrendering into the present moment with more ease and fluidity and becoming more and more kind to ourselves. That’s all. The main message here, is that we don’t get very far when we separate from our bodies and get caught up in the monkey business of the mind. Particularly when its feeding us mostly negativity and fear.
To be of an anxious disposition is the lot of many of us. To make choices each day that soothe and comfort us without leaving the present moment or our own precious selves, is a wonderful way of addressing it.
For assistance with cultivating your meditation practice or for general advice about handling anxiety, please feel free to get in touch with me and book a session. I’d love to be of service to you.
There are also plenty of amazing meditation apps you can use every day to bring more variety, wisdom and pleasure to your practice. My favourite is Insight Timer. Happy sitting!