Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
Guidepost #8 on the Path to Wholehearted Living
For the week of Dec 9-14th in all my classes – Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday
In my journey as a healing artist, I have found myself drawn into close relationship with folks who struggle with anxiety in its different forms. Given my seriously earthy-nurturing-dense-sturdiness (from my Kapha constitution, for those of you familiar with Ayurveda stuff), I think it makes perfect sense: connection and relationship with folks like me naturally offers the steadiness and grounding that those prone to anxiety tend to yearn for and seek out. Such steadiness is an antidote to the swirl of thoughts and rising, frantic energy that can prevent a sense of stability and focus.
These are not isolated instances. We are actually facing an increasingly anxiety-ridden world, and there are tangible/explicit reasons for this: in the era of omnipresent cellphones, wireless internet routers, and bluetooth devices, we are literally surrounded and immersed in a field that is saturated with information and stimulus that our psyches are currently not equipped to handle. Some of us fare better in this stimulus storm than others, but all of us are deeply and profoundly and holistically affected by it in ways that we are only beginning to understand. And this is solely on the psycho-energetic levels; this doesn’t take into the spiritual affects of the rat race, which we’ve been talking a lot about on this journey to Wholehearted living.
I am not advocating a rejection of the internet or technology (hello-it would be hard to reach you with this message if I were…!), but this week’s chapter reminds me of the urgent necessity of finding ways to literally unplug and disconnect. To seek shelter from the onslaught of information we are immersed in. To give our entire beings a chance to be calm and still.
The chapter introduces the related but distinct ideas of calm and stillness. Continuing to draw on what we explored last week relating to the importance of rest for holistic wellness, and weaving in previous concepts like numbing/checking out and resilience practices, Brené shares her own tale of coming to terms with her chronically anxiety-ridden life.
As I started developing awareness about Wholehearted Living, it’s as if my body said, “I’m going to help you embrace this new way of living by making it very difficult for you to ignore anxiety.” I was having dizzy spells whenever I got really anxious and stressed out. If I became too anxiety ridden, I’d literally have to sit down or risk falling.
Her story sounds so much like many of the folks I know and love: sooner or later, there is a reckoning. Since everything is truly connected, the cripplingly high levels of anxiety, stress and tension that are part of daily life for so many people eventually expand beyond the purely psychological/mental realms to the physical and other realms as well.
It is natural and, in a sense, essential that these things manifest themselves physically. For many of us trapped in anxiety-and-productivity cycles, unless our bodies “grounded us” with the flu, migraines, or back spasms, we would never rest. We would never stop. We would never, ever be still. Our bodies—our entire, holistic beings—are wise. They know how to get what they need. The problem is that we fail to listen: calmness, stillness and rest are quite in opposition to the rat race.
Brené goes on to explain her slow transition to cultivating more calm and stillness in her life, including struggles with cultivating a meditation practice as well as ways in which she learned to check herself when on the verge of losing her calm. “Sometimes I actually think to myself, I’m dying to freak out here! Do I have enough information to freak out? Will freaking out help? The answer is always no.”
This week we’ll look at calm and stillness as two essential ways of caring for yourself: giving yourself permission to move into stillness, to listen deeply to what emerges, and act lovingly on it. Yet another way you can be your own best friend on this journey.
You don’t have to do it alone.