Friday, December 4, 2015
The portal of anxiety
As a sensitive human being, it is natural to experience waves of anxiety from time to time. This word ‘anxiety’ has come to be associated with something deeply problematic, unworkable, invalid, and certainly ‘unspiritual.’ It can be helpful, when you are triggered or caught in a surging of disturbing feelings, to return into the body and allow the word ‘anxiety’ to fall away. Something very alive is occurring – and is requesting a moment of intimate awareness.
There is no ongoing, solid, continuous ‘thing’ called anxiety that is happening ‘to’ you. If you go into your present, embodied experience, you will not find ‘anxiety’ actually. At the somatic level, ‘anxiety’ is merely a concept, pointing to a very unique, alive, unprecedented arrangement of physical sensation, emotion, and conceptual narrative. Once you connect in a very direct way with what is actually happening – instead of with your interpretation of what is happening – you may start to sense that continuing to claim you are ‘suffering from anxiety’ is in a subtle way an act of self-abandonment.
Yes, the experience of anxiety can be quite disturbing, can trigger survival-level panic, and can feel quite icky. But if you slow down and return to the here and now, you can make contact with and even practice a certain kind of intimate holding toward the actual sensations, emotions, and storylines that are present. And discover for yourself if they are in fact harming you, if your survival is actually at risk, and if you are ready to take care of yourself in a new way.
Oh, by the way, anxiety is not very 'spiritual,' is it? I mean, what about being in the now, loving what is, being grateful for everything that comes, staying in a ‘high vibration,’ accepting the moment, laws of attraction, and all of that? What if others actually knew that you experienced anxiety from time to time? Especially your spiritual friends. Or students. Or clients. Or new partner. What would they think?
What conclusions have you come to about all this? To what degree do you truly believe that love has a bias as to whether anxiety happens to come and go in the vast field of presence? Or that waves of anxiety are evidence that you have failed… as a lover, as a friend, as a spiritual person? It can be helpful to ask these questions and see what you discover.
It is so easy to dismiss anxiety, to conclude that its presence is clear evidence that something is wrong with you, that you are flawed, that you have failed in some way, and that you must urgently do something about it all. It is here that the project of ‘fixing me’ is birthed, and you know the result of that one. Dare to consider that you are not broken simply because waves of sensation, emotion, and narrative are surging in and out of your tender nervous system.
What if anxiety were a very legitimate and valid experience, in fact a harbinger of integration? What if it were not an obstacle to your path, but the very path itself? A very challenging and fierce portal into the reality of how open, raw, groundless, and tender it truly is here?
Perhaps the freedom and the aliveness you are longing for will never be realized by way of some sort of dramatic project of understanding, transforming, and ‘healing’ your anxiety, but rather by entering into intimate relationship with it. By practicing kindness toward it and making a commitment to no longer abandoning yourself and the aliveness of immediate experience.
What if anxiety was a messenger sent by some part of you that was longing to be met, to finally be brought out of the dark and back into the light of your awareness?
What have you abandoned in yourself? Turned from out of unmet shame, grief, disappointment, or fear?
Something is appearing at the door of your heart. What is it? While it may appear that it is knocking from the outside, get curious and look again. Maybe the waves of sensation, emotion, and narrative are special invitations into the sacred world. And perhaps the kindest act of self-care and self-love is to finally slow down, and see.
Art by Josh Adamski