OH, the AnxietyNovember 18, 2013
In 7 weeks I am heading to India to study with my teacher and some dear fellow teachers and I’m super excited. I am also just a tiny bit anxious about it… I’ve known for months that this trip was happening but suddenly it is VERY real – rooms are booked, flights within India (um, there are FIVE) have been secured and we are talking carry-on luggage only folks. Yeah, this is very real.
Last week, as we started the main portion of our cleanse and I realized how close this trip to India actually was, anxiety hit in a hard way. And, as anxiety usually does, it came under the guise of frustration, hunger and irritability. If you asked me about India, I wouldn’t have said I was stressed. If you asked me how I was doing in general, I would have said that I was overwhelmed by emails, by my very messy home office and I really wanted a slice of pizza. In truth, my emails were fine (I’m a yoga teacher for heaven’s sake; email is not that big of a deal), my home office looked no different than it does any other day of the year, and every time I eat pizza I get a stomachache. In truth, I was feeling the fear of flying for 18+ hours, of being away from home/family/work for an entire month, and of having to get what seems like 800 immunizations. That was what was real. But my mind funneled all that fear into being worried about things that didn’t need worrying instead.
It took me awhile but once I realized where these feelings where really coming from the pizza craving disappeared, I shut the door to the office and instead took out a pen and paper and wrote down a packing list for India. I realized that I have everything I need in place. I picked out a few books to take care of the flight and laid it all aside to pick up again in 6 weeks. Taking a moment to find the root of my feelings and then acknowledge them has helped some. Am I still nervous about my trip? Yes. Will I likely continue to feel this anxiousness leak into other corners of my life? Absolutely. But, can I use my practice to notice at every opportunity how I am acting and why? Can I pause a few times a day to breath and to search for the causes of these actions? Yes, I can do that. And so can you.
If you have just finished up your cleanse with me this is a wonderful time to get really curious about how your feelings affect your hunger and cravings. Likely you are feeling light, clear and healthy right now. When life goes astray and throws you an anxiety-filled moment/day/week, can you use your practice of breath and mindfulness to NOTICE how you are feeling. Ask yourself what is causing this feeling; get really curious here as often the first answer that comes to mind is a scapegoat. Dig deeper. Get to the root. We are trying to build a relationship with what moves inside us. Acknowledge it. Write it down. Make a List. Talk about it with a friend. Do what you need to do to address the root cause. Then set the pizza aside and get on your mat instead. You’ll feel better for it. I did.