Moving on From Anxiety…

I wrote about anxiety last week, and how it can affect us in so many ways – from the way we sound and appear,  to how we can be affected physically. Even when we deal well with anxiety the anxious thoughts still sometimes hover and wait in the wings – waiting for the guard to drop and the mindfulness to lose its helpful grip for a while. If, like me, you spend a lot of time reading about self-help and enlightenment you will know what I mean when I say that mindfulness and reaching that absolute place of understanding where we ‘get it’ and nothing can bother us any more is definitely an ongoing process which needs constant monitoring! (Although, if you have ‘got it’ you may well disagree with me…actually, you probably won’t be reading this anyway, you will be somewhere on cloud nine.)

I can’t recall a time in the past when there was so much helpful information readily available to us on the subject of self-help and spiritual fitness. It’s a good thing. It’s a great and empowering thing. There is something for all of us, whether we lean toward religious solace, a more healthy body and mind, spiritual advancement, meditation, yoga, finding the best retreat, positivity workshops…… I could go on…..

The benefit in all this help and information is huge. With all the help at our disposal we will find something we really find beneficial for sure. We will, sooner or later, have our own particular author or life-style guru who really speaks to us and shows us a way forward when we need it from time to time.

I was a nurse for many years, and I can think of countless times when I had to dig deep and give comfort. To be able to reach out and support people in times of tremendous need was of utmost importance, especially when busy and working in a stressful environment. I hope I gave my best. Mostly I feel I did. But it would have been good to have had more helpful ways of releasing the tension after a busy shift than going to the pub around the corner from the hospital!  Maybe I wasn’t ready then to read the books that would have been helpful – perhaps I was finding my own way then and gaining experience in life. It is said that the teacher comes when the pupil is ready.

And I think it is good to remind ourselves sometimes that simple acts of kindness are within us all. To remember that inherent wisdom and  compassion is deep within us, even embedded in our DNA. We are braver and wiser than we think. Mindfulness and deep thinking has been around far longer than we have . Self-help is not really new. Ancient philosophers had figured out life over 2,000 years ago. Quotes from so long ago never cease to amaze me and make me realise that everything changes yet nothing changes!

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.’         Heraclitus (lived around 500 years BC in Ephesus.)

Like many big thinkers, Heraclitus was born wealthy in a city, but lived in the woods to contemplate the universe.

The sage ” is ready to use all situations and doesn’t waste anything. This is called embodying the light.”

Lao Tzu alive around 600 BC in China.

The Lao Tzu started Taoism 2,500 years ago in China. He was legendary – Lao Tzu really just means ‘old man’ and nobody knows who he actually was. He certainly made a big impression! More importantly, he left us the ‘Tao Te Ching” which is full of ancient wisdom.

To rank the effort above the prize may be called love.”        Confucius, alive in China around 500 BC.

Confucius is probably the most influential person in Chinese history. He emphasised what we today call grit: finding the value in trying and not just arriving.

The unexamined life is not worth living.”         Socrates Lived in Athens around 450 BC

Socrates embodied the fundamental spirit of Western thought that you have the responsibility of being in charge of your own life.

Perhaps the most beautiful words of all ;

  “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.

Rumi, poet born 1207

So today we are lucky with the resources we have  – both the old and the new.  We may just need to remind ourselves to open our hearts to new learning. To rid ourselves of negative thoughts and change our thinking so we can move forward with positivity and embrace change whilst learning also from the past. Nothing, and I mean nothing that is good is ever lost even when it is centuries old.

As human beings we will always be searching for a newer, better and easier way to find fulfillment. Next time your heart is a little heavy, just remember there is always a way forward. And as I have said before, if you are anxious you are not alone. You can take comfort from the fact that for centuries we have yearned to find new wisdom and ways to help us move forward and probably will for centuries to come. And we have survived.

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Anxious days and sounding like the Queen….

There has been a lot going on in Dove Lane this week – mainly on the work front. I am ghostwriting a book at the moment and have also been writing articles for various magazines. It is all challenging and exciting stuff and certainly keeps my brain active. I love what I do and consider myself very lucky. That said, the world keeps turning and all the other aspects of life need my attention from time to time.

Here’s the thing – I listen to and follow so much advice from my various favourite lifestyle gurus  – you know, the ones who speak calmly at us through our headphones and lead us to believe that we only have to meditate every day, visualise our dreams and stay in a good calm place to have the world sussed out, that I find myself questioning why some days I don’t feel better than I do. I have always been one to worry a bit about things although I have perfected the art of putting on a brave face, and there are still days when I wake up feeling quite fearful.

On these such days out come the oil burners, the ‘spiritual fitness’ (soothing) music goes on and the pack of Angel cards are both thoroughly shuffled and read for inspiration and reassurance. I may even consume the healthiest breakfast I can manage, overflowing with the juiciest blueberries and sprinkled with turmeric powder. Antioxidants and super foods are the way of course. Often too I head for the woods to commune with nature. Being outside always helps, and worries and cares never seem so overpowering. So then I face the day with renewed optimism. Probably for ten minutes. Then I remember I have to send a recorded voice message to a client which I rehearse to be sure it sounds professional. I send said message. So why do I sound like the Queen on a bad day? Where has my normal voice escaped to? Why does nervousness, when it takes over, alter all our regular actions and allow them to be feeble or peculiar, or even frankly, embarrassing. (Anyone who has experienced the jerky/shaky head movements can probably sympathise with me here). Okay. Time for a reality check, or actually, maybe an UN – reality check, for what is real and what is imagined here? I realise I am looking too far ahead, visualising all the things that could go wrong but probably won’t. I have lost my perspective and even my gratitude. Gratitude for the day I have been given, and which I am wasting with negative thinking.

One thing I am now teaching myself is to be present. Be where I am and not where my anxiety wants to take me. I remind myself that an anxious mind is actually a strong mind, as anyone who has tried to rationalise themselves out of being anxious will tell you. Anxiety exists in all of us at times – we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t experience it occasionally, and of course, it is primarily there to keep us out of danger and to strengthen us if we harness it in the right way. But of course, being on high alert all the time is not good for us, and can become obtrusive. So I remind myself I can be bigger than the anxiety; stronger and more resilient. I won’t fight anxious thoughts but tell myself I have no need for them today. I am comfortable and safe and I am okay. If I accept I am sometimes anxious it doesn’t have such a grip on me and it loses energy.

We can read all the information we can get our hands on. Some days it helps and we find a nugget of wisdom that really shines like a beacon and has a profound effect, other days not so much. Maybe those are the days we should watch a ‘feelgood’ film or eat a box of chocolates – well okay, maybe not a whole box. But at least there is lot of help out there if we embrace it. And there is one thing I urge you to think about if you suffer from anxiety:  you are not alone. The ‘self-help’ industry is huge. There are gurus everywhere – we could probably each have our own personal one there are so many,  – so remember, many of us are searching for help and many of us want to use our own experiences to help others. There is always room for a new way of looking at things, and new ideas. Techniques we laughed at yesterday could be the most beneficial and accepted way of helping us tomorrow.

Talking about laughter, humour is the best way for me in dealing with anxious situations. It’s not easy to be funny or feel amused on demand but trying to look on the funny side helps.  I always think saying we should love ourselves sounds particularly cheesy, but if we do, then we can look upon a bit of laughter as a good way of healing, and not beating ourselves up when we feel low. Laughter scares depression and activates happy feelings, and we as humans are wired to respond positively to laughter and smiles. So there we can tell ourselves that we are at least helping others if we wear a smile.

So next time I hear myself sounding like Her Majesty I will smile and make the most of it. By doing that I will probably relax and return to being my normal self too!

Below is a rather random sketch of mine. Here for no other reason than to make you smile (I like him anyway!)

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A Jaunty Fellow to Cheer You…..