Everyone has their battles. I’m convinced that it’s impossible to make it to adulthood (and in some cases, just past 10) without a serious issue or two. Or four.
I have an anxiety disorder. It’s diagnosed, I’ve been through counseling for it. As it was explained to me, one can have a predisposition for greater or lesser amounts of anxiety. Think of it like a fight or flight response–the response is stronger in some people than in others. In order to move from ‘responsive’ to ‘disorder,’ all that’s required is a little trauma. Mine hit right around age 13 (since being a teenager isn’t hard enough on its own) and presto! The shifter jumps a couple gears and off we go.
I’m pretty fortunate. My anxiety issues are not so severe that they necessitate medication. That said, they do need to be managed. And it is in the management of our issues that I think people, myself included, often fall short. It’s not enough to take the pill, you see. Or to have gone through therapy of some sort once. Although we can take the edges off of our issues, they remain with us, and can regrow their ridges if ignored for too long.
June is always a rocky month for me. Many of the clubs I juggle in my life are in the air, and on fire, during June. Cassandra Syndrome‘s summer tour season is underway. Although we’ve pared back on gigs this year to one a month, there’s still a lot that happens behind the scenes to make those gigs happen. Especially since we’ve just changed lineup. My garden is also picking up speed–there’s more maintenance necessary, new rounds of crops to put into the ground, pest management has begun. And finally the big one–the Shenandoah Midsummer Festival. I co-chair the festival. I’m blessed to have a team of amazing folks that helps make Midsummer happen, but it’s still a LOT of work. This year in particular is a bit anxiety-inducing since we’re at a new location. The location is fabulous, but since we haven’t run the festival there before, I don’t know what, if any, problems will arise. I’m trying to plan for things I can only theorize about.
This along with all my other duties and activities.
I could feel the stress building over the last couple weeks. I found myself, several times, quite literally turning in a circle while trying to figure out how to do two different things at once. The memory problems that I associate with increased anxiety were showing up, plus the awful sinking feeling that underlies the condition. The everything is going to go wrong, and I will be left alone forever feeling.
Here’s the good news. I noticed the ramping up. I noticed the issues coming to the fore. And that increase in stress was what I carried with me into the Labyrinth during Monday night’s walk.
How do we slow down when the world speeds up around us?
One, we limit how much world is allowed into our minds. I have a hard time not working if I’m attached to the internet. So now, at 9 pm, an alarm goes off on my phone and I end all use of electronic media. Reading is fine. Writing (with a pen) is fine. Meditation is fine. Gmail is not.
Two, we focus on making our goals reasonable. I know for a fact that it is impossible to get everything on my to-do list knocked out today. I also know from reading study after study that multitasking is not as effective as many of us would like to believe. So, I sat down, figured out what actually *needs* to happen, and focused on that. If my living room doesn’t get cleaned today, the world will not end.
Three, we specifically make time for fun–for relaxation. For letting ourselves off the hook for an hour or two. If there is never a release in the pressure, we slowly grind down underneath it.
I figured out the fourth option last night as I was journaling. I was mulling over stress and realized that there’s an area in my life where I’m already good at managing it. Yoga. My muscles can be screaming, my heart pounding, sweat pouring, yet in a yoga practice I am centered in myself, completely calm, and breathing fully and smoothly. Three words came to mind about how I approach my practice.
Strong. Slow. Deliberate.
I focus a lot on alignment, on smooth transitions between poses. On making my physical practice as much like the flowing of water as possible. This idea of fluidity can be turned to my own life–to my to-do list, to the chittering monkey voice inside my head urging me to more and more faster and faster.
I choose my next task with Strength. I will focus on it, turn all my attention to it, until it is completed. I will meet it with all my energy, rather than attempting to divide my reserves.
I move Slowly. Rather than the chaotic tumble of a mountain stream, I move as with the swell of the ocean. I choose to take the time to ensure tasks are done correctly, thoroughly, skillfully.
I work Deliberately. I consciously choose my actions. I reflect on situations and obstacles and think them through rather than falling into mindless reaction. When I do identify a path to pursue, I move forward in full awareness. I stay mindful of the present moment.
Strong. Slow. Deliberate. And, as always, remember to Breathe.