Senses sharpened by a shift in reality the surreal sensation of sudden change unstable ground under cautious steps keeps me tethered in the present moment My soul lurches back and forth between ecstatic excitement and utter terror at the prospect of all that's to come should I dare to let myself hope? Surely it's psychotic to leave this safe haven this resting place that's given me such grace the soft embrace of a found family have I formed ties strong enough to last? Still, it's been so long since I've felt this stirring this passionate flutter of energy inside my chest for once I want to let myself follow it to fully embrace my innocent, hopeful heart I've finally felt the hand of fate guiding me I can't bear to ignore the voice of opportunity even as it beckons me beyond my boundaries to new places tinged with fear and uncertainty Perhaps for the first time, I feel ready to be brave making the right choice doesn't mean it's easy left disoriented and dazzled by unknown possibilities it's been the hardest decision I've ever had to make
Staring Down Anxiety
Anxiety is a bully. It feeds off of the fear that it creates. The longer you avoid something because of anxiety the harder it becomes to face. Fear is a powerful motivator. It doesn’t really matter if the fear is rational or not. Sometimes anxiety and fear become inseparable. They swell and become monstrous in size, looming over us. We do our best to hide from them. But they are inside of us, so no matter how hard we try, how much we practice, there is nowhere safe to seal ourselves away.
The good news is just like a schoolyard bully, anxiety is easy to defeat. Bullies rule by fear more than might. Standing up to them is all that we really need to do. When we experience anxiety, the body is on high alert. It is telling us to get the fuck out of there. It feels like we will certainly die if we do not somehow escape the situation and the emotions we are feeling. Thankfully, there is still some part of us that knows this is untrue, that these feelings are unfounded.
When we listen to our anxious feelings we are reinforcing the brain’s believe that this fear response was correct. The good news is we don’t have to listen to our anxiety. It feels counterintuitive. Centuries of evolution have programed us to heed these warning signals from inside. Luckily we are intelligent enough to outwit our instincts. Don’t allow your anxiety to bully you anymore. Here’s a little meditation I am working on to help me stand up to my anxiety.
Face Your Fears Meditation
- Take a deep breath and notice what anxiety feels like in your body. Do you feel tense? Numb? Energized? Do a full body scan and take note of any places you can feel nervous energy in your physical body.
- Now start to take more deep, conscious breaths. Inhaling for a count of four. Hold for four. Exhale for four. Hold for four. Repeat this cycle a few times.
- As the nervous system begins to relax, try to release any tense areas you identified earlier.
- Let the breath return to its natural rhythm as you turn your thoughts to whatever is making you anxious.
- Visualize yourself accomplishing or overcoming whatever it is you’re anxious about, experience the positive emotions of your success in your body.
- Imagine what it feels like to be powerful, confident, brave.
- Imagine how good it will feel to face your fears and overcome your anxious feelings.
- Repeat to yourself softly, “I am brave. I am brave. I am brave.”
- Now imagine it has already been done. Your anxiety vanquished, it evaporates.
Feel free to use, edit, or tweak this meditation any way you see fit. If the suggested mantra feels a bit empty or corny to you, pick one that resonates with you more. If that particular form of pranayama doesn’t suit you, incorporate another such as nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breath.) The words and breath you use in a meditation aren’t necessarily important. The most important thing is the emotions you draw forth. If the words courage or bravery don’t make you feel anything, instead you could try to imagine a time when you felt brave or imagine what it would feel like in the future.
At the end of the day, anxiety can only win if we let it. I know you are strong enough to face your anxiety and overcome it. It may never go away, but we can learn how to work with it instead of against it. We get to decide how we perceive this life. For so long now I’ve chosen to view my anxiety as a burden, something that constricts me and holds me back from living the life I want. But I don’t have to look at it that way. Instead, I am going to use my anxiety to my advantage. I don’t have to feel ashamed that things that are easy for others may be quite difficult for me. Each challenge I face, however small, is a gift. It is a chance to step into my own power. It is a chance to believe in myself. It’s an opportunity for triumph, an opportunity to be brave.