Stress and anxiety
Over the years I have had many friends approach me, usually behind closed doors, away from their partners or family. They would have a frantic and hopeless look in their eyes, a shakiness to their being. The conversation would go along the lines of: “I don’t know what to do anymore, I worry all the time, I have anxiety, I am having issues falling asleep”. When I hear these words I feel a sadness for them and also joy as I too have dealt with anxiety in my past. I too have felt that same frantic feeling that feels so out of our control. The joy I feel is because I know that I can help give them the same gift that allowed me to overcome and approach anxiety with mindfulness and meditation.
My first major encounters
My journey with it propelled into a chaotic mess once I was working full time and doing a distance course for massage therapy. A part of me knew that everything was fine, but my mind and emotions were telling me that everything is not fine. In fact, my mind was telling me that everything is horrible: “you’ll fail this exam,” “you can’t enjoy this cup of tea because you need to worry about studying,” “sleep? nope, you need to stay up and think about work”. Our mind can be our worst enemy when we feed into the ego motivated thoughts as opposed to our heart centered truths. Luckily my husband grew up in Nepal with a strongly infused Buddhist and Hindu upbringing. He knew just what to teach me… How to breathe. Not how to breathe necessarily, but how to focus on my breath. He gave me my first introduction into meditation. From that point on anxiety is a rarity within my life. If worry pops up in my life, I have the tools to instantly stop it from going forward and to bring me back to my being.
What do you do about it?
The advice I return to my friends who approach me about their anxiety is all about mindfulness. Meditation is simply resting our busy mind. Allowing thoughts to come up, but not feeding into them. Letting them come, letting them go. Not creating an encyclopedia out of a short story. The easiest way to allow the story line go is to bring our awareness to something else. To our breath. And when we think about our breath, we are connecting our mind to our physical body. Our physical body is right here, right now, healthy and alive. We are taking our mind away from the past and from the future and directing it towards our present moment. Once our mind is in the present moment anxiety disappears because in the moment our deepest truth is that everything is okay, everything is in fact wonderful. We have many things to appreciate and show gratitude towards in our present moment. Whether it is the fresh air we breathe, the color of the leaves, or the fact that our lungs are oxygenating our body and many complex things are working to keep us healthy and alive.
How do I begin to meditate?
How do we focus on our breath/meditate? Well, close your eyes to start. Make sure you are comfortable. Sitting is usually better then laying so you don’t fall asleep. You can be in the cross legged position with a straight extended spine, but more importantly ensure you feel very comfortable so you are not distracted by sore legs or body pains. Then begin a slow and gentle inhale and exhale. Feel the breath flow through your nose, down your throat, into your lungs and finally into your abdomen. A good way of doing this is by placing one hand on your chest and one on your belly, this way you can feel the air push your hands outwards. Belly breathing is essential for many reasons (I’ll talk about this more later), but just know that it is key to switching off your fight or flight mode and turning on your rest and digest.
There are many great books about meditation. One of my favorites is by Pema Chodron, How to mediate. You can find it here:
Joining a meditation group is a wonderful way to commit to a time frame of meditation. Often guided meditations are best for beginners as they give you a stronger focus to come back to. I have been offering guided meditations from my business once every two weeks. These meditations are free and by donation (I give my donations to the SPCA). It can be powerful to find a community of like minded individuals who want to create more mindfulness within their lives. Listen to one of my guided meditations about the chakras and subtle energies of the body here: