“Toward all this is unsolved in you heart be patient. Try to love the questions. Do not seek answers which cannot be given; you would not be able to live them. Live everything. Live the questions now; you will then gradually without noticing it live into the answers some distant day.” Ranier Maria Rilke
There are always so many questions. Growing up I wondered why I was stressed about things and those around me were not. I thought it was just me and that I was different from other people who seemed to cope so much better with what life threw at them. I felt somehow weak and less than others. Why couldn’t I just shake things off and move on?
I am glad that today discoveries are being made about those of us who suffer from anxiety. I am glad that I don’t have to consider myself alone or unusual. Much is being written on this subject and research is being done on what parts of the brain are involved and is there some way to help.
It is clear that we have a more active flight or fight response than others. This may have been helpful when we really did need to run or fight but now it is an aggravation and sometimes a real trial. Many of us with even mild anxiety have suffered with a panic attack and sought help. I have been lucky and have only experienced this twice in my life. I hope that this journey will help me to avoid it in future.
The thing is, those of use who do not have clinical anxiety have suffered quietly and alone. We have coped one way or another and kept on going. For those of us blessed enough to have family and friends who support us the journey has been easier.
I still sometimes ask why me? Maybe as Rilke says someday I will live into the answer.
It’s funny how life puts changes in front of you. Today I discovered that by asking Alexa on my Amazon Echo I could access several different meditation sites. Even though I taught meditation, when beginning, it is so difficult to do it on your own. It helps to have someone gently leading you. Later on it is more manageable to shed the guidance and move into deep meditation on your own.
I accessed this today and low and behold the topic for the meditation was anxiety! I had a friend who says these sort of occurrences were the arragels were at work. They certainly were today!
I was able to write poetry today and just the fact that I can access those feeling and put them on paper is a blessing. I was blocked and couldn’t write. It is so good to be myself
opening up again. I hope this trend continues but expect backslides from time to time.
Doesn’t it seem that everything happens at once? We go along with what we callnormal and then everything changes. I have often been struck by the song “What a difference a day makes” and how true it is. Life is ever changing but some changes are more drastic than others. For someone to suddenly die is huge.There is no normal. For two years I worked with a grief support group and saw each of them grow into an “new normal.” For those of us who make plans and projections way down the road seeing lives turned upside down in one moment is frightening. The road ahead is no longer clear.
The thing is if we just live in the moment then the next doesn’t really matter. To say I am here right now alive and fully present is enough. This journey is about absorbing that truth and living it out.
Since January of this year my life has been drastically changed. Why is for another day. That change is what has me on this journey. It was not of my choosing. Grief, anxiety and much change have brought me to this place. Recently I wrote a poem about this grief and the grief of those in the support group.
Someone once said
Grief is a gift
But who would
Who would want
To lose love
And find yourself
The tears fall
Cleansing, freeing but
For the narrow crack
And slides easily in
How can this be
A gift received
Why should it
If love is absent
Grief is stayed
Only love’s absence
And without love
There is no gift
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Lao Tzu
The difficulty for me is not taking the first step but continuing steps. I start out with enthusiasm and plans but don’t follow through. I am hoping that writing this blog every day will give me the push I need to keep going.
Throughout our lives we are given advice about how not to worry. “Just let it go…..put it out of your mind…think about something else….just keep on keeping on.” I’m sure that anyone could add many things to that list.
I took intensive yoga for two years when yoga was not popular. The teacher was a master at teaching and we spent almost two hours each class which allowed us to meditate at the end for thirty minutes or more. I was able to fall into a deep mediation and at times felt myself lift off the floor and float in the air. My teacher had surgery without anesthesia by meditating. If I had kept practicing I could have thrown the worry out the door years ago. We moved…I had another teacher…good but not as skilled and my enthusiasm faded. I picked back up and attended the Yoga Seminary of New York which was amazing. It was an ashram and had both yoga and teaching of the Bhavagad Gita with Swami Pravananda. (Forgive me if I didn’t remember his name correctly) The experience was amazing. Again, I was back on track and taught yoga for a while until we moved again. It seems that I can hold on to something as long as I have a rope to hold on to but just drop it on my own. Discipline is not my middle name.
It is so easy to drift back into old habits. Changing habits is so very hard. I have the phrase “I am alive today- right now-this moment.” I am using it whenever my mind begins to head off into worry. I don’t know how many have read Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence but I need to keep it close at hand and think about him often. Every task he did be it washing dishes or digging in the garden was done to the glory of God and his mind was on this fact. Obviously worry was not an issue for him.
I have started taking a few moments each day….this is about all I can tolerate…. to sit in silence and just breathe. I hope that I can increase the time as my tolerance increases. I hope to move myself gently into a new way of being. Spending time with ourselves can be scary. We may learn things we didn’t want to know but how else can we learn who we really are?
Life is a series of choices. We don’t often think of that but just getting out of bed in the morning is a choice. We are so used to routine that it doesn’t seem like we made a choice. It’s just what we do every day with little thought. How different life could be it we could be fully present for each of those choices. It is interesting to reflect on one’s path in life. It is so easy to see the places where I stepped off the path and usually paid for it. Sometimes the slip brings an instant outcome. Sometimes life continues and only with a long look back can we see the result of the choice.
I have always wanted to learn to live each day in the present moment but I haven’t mastered it yet. If only every second of every day I could remember I am alive now! How different my whole life would have been.
You see, I am a worrier. I cross bridges and explore every good and bad outcome for each crisis or major event that comes up. I can easily picture myself with a fatal illness or catastrophic problem. The real question is how I have managed to live for 76 years and not learned how to let this go. It is time to move on. This is my journey into change. My first step into a new way to really live each moment.
I know that I have a tough road ahead of me and will struggle with my resistance to changing habits and applying all the advice and wisdom I have been given. I worried as a child. My grandmother used to tell me to sit in a chair and worry as hard as I could and get up and see if anything had changed. Her wisdom (she died at 100 ) was there for me as long as she lived. I heard it over and over but never learned how to do it.
The practice of faith was not absent in my growing years. God was a part of my everyday life. I was baptized in the Presbyterian church that my parents attended and each Sunday was in church with my parents or my grandmother (she was Methodist) I saw my grandmother read her Bible each day and pray as she rested after lunch and again at night before bed. Her connection to God was strong. Was Her consistent time spent with God the thing that brought her such peace? Many of my adult years have been spent in God’s ministry. Interesting that all that energy and action didn’t have a deeper effect on my way of being. One would think that Bible study, leading church events, teaching yoga and meditation would have had more impact.
So many human quirks that have been around since Adam and Eve have been given titles and are seen as present in many of us. In today’s world, my worrying would be given the title mild anxiety. What I do is not unusual nor can it be considered a psychiatric diagnosis. It seems to me that the recognition of garden variety anxiety has given some relief for those of us who worry. I am not the only one and will certainly not be the last.
Added on to this propensity to worry are the major changes in our way of life. It seems to me that sometimes ignorance is bliss. (note: I say it seems that way). Today we are bombarded with information. The world seems to be more dangerous day by day. To quote Dr King “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” We can see the result of this on the streets of our cities. Have we been desensitized to violence so that nothing is too abhorrent to do?
All the electronic devices have added noise on a former unprecedented level. Is there silence anywhere? Do we understand the effect on body and mind of constant noise? Do we ever just sit back and think? I see this pattern as actually increasing worry or anxiety in the future. There is no time to just be.
All that having been said this writing will record my progress (or lack thereof) of a journey into change. I cannot change the world but I can change myself. I believe in the butterfly principle and maybe if one person finds a different way something will change.
I am not Crash. I have worries. I can cross bridges before I get to them and imagine the worst in any situation. I have been this way my whole life. I am tired of it. This blog is my journey to find a new way of being. It is my hope for a lasting change. I hope my journey with its ups and downs can strike a chord for others like me.