practice vipassana meditation, going thru my body and relaxing each part starting with my head and working down. It didn’t work very well. I realised I would just have to lay there until something else settled in me and let me fall asleep. I am also thankful for this intrusion into my meditative calm, because it reminds me that anxiety which over time can develop into depression is the most common mental health ailment that affects people today.
The mind state of unresolved fear can pervade all aspects of life: relationships; work; foundational well-being; spiritual, emotional and physical health. It also contributes to chronic diseases; and persistent autoimmune diseases. It is the underlying drone of doom that sounds beneath our daily lives. These troublesome states of mind begin with fear, and if not attended to in a functional way, will migrate into depression, psychotropics addictions, disassociation from our bodies or other destructive behaviours such as addictions to materials, food, drugs, unhealthy relationships, technology or sex. This anxiety also drifts into an inward turning into oneself into a self-absorbed habitual trauma state that attempts to deny the acuity of the situation. More common now in our present world, anxiety can be fed by or perpetuated by technology addictions, which is essentially the turning towards machines which smart monkey minds have developed to keep us all asleep. Of course we can also be lulled into believing that the present state of personal and world crisis is over exaggerated, overwhelming and must be denied or complied to.
Here is the startling fact that can start you on the road to lasting recovery:
There are good reasons for your anxiety and …you can take action towards resolving your discomfort if you are courageous and committed to your own spiritual growth.
Let’s begin with the biggest container possible for life, the earth, Gaia and all the life systems that support beings. Gaia herself is the global consciousness that has developed life in its myriad forms as we know it today. Gaia is the planetary consciousness that has developed this long narrative of millions of years, a unifying force that brings life and death into reality with mind bending complexity, beauty and ultimate love and sacred intention.
Gaia is everything, don’t be misled. Without a healthy Gaia, we die. When we are dead we are no longer able to participate or experience anything. Read that again, it’s true.
Gaia is anxious about human caused environmental destruction, climate change; species die off, and unconstrained dimensions of human cruelty and suffering. She, since this consciousness can be most accurately described as feminine, is disturbed by our blind and rampant suicidal rush to self-destruction. We are her favorite child and She is disquieted by our perfidious reluctance to embrace the next stage of our evolution.
Anxiety is transmitted to us in mysterious and hidden ways. Perhaps one way it is communicated to us is thru all the three worlds of Gaia-mineral, plant and animal. In The Hidden Life of Trees What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from A Secret World by Peter Wohlleben (2016), the author describes how trees communicate to each other about insect and viral threats. I wonder if plants are also trying to communicating with us, perhaps thru stress hormones or other transmittable molecules that are released thru the air, water or mycelium growing for hundreds of miles underground. It is one of those unprovable theories, but it seems to make sense to me because I work with so many people who almost inexplicably have anxiety at levels that are crippling and destructive.
The first step towards resolving your anxiety is to commit to daily actions, thoughts and beliefs that protect Gaia and future generations of life on our planet. This may be as simple as taking care when driving cars, not to waste Gaia’s precious resources, to consume consciously and to limit the number of children each woman has to one child for each woman. We need to stop thinking about large families as being inherently good and instead to foster the model of one woman, one child for our human family to survive. Of course, if you already have more than one child in your family, then you must commit to raising your children in the most responsible ways possible.
Many anxious people today often do not have trauma in their history, have good healthy attachments to their care givers, nourishing social lives, and hold gratifying employments. But anxiety and depression take hold of them. Most often these are young people, middle class, educated, don’t have severe mental health problems and appear to be sane on all other fronts. Perhaps the single most outstanding feature of this new anxious demographic is that they are emotionally sensitive and informed about world events. I also think that perhaps a certain percentage of the population are Water Way souls, as described in my first book, The River Books-Love, Work and Spiritually (Star, 2007). Water way souls are people who see the wholeness of life and dwell in spiritual dimensions more that the majority of people who are Earth Way. Earth Way souls are concerned with the needs and wants of the individual, production, work and maintaining a hierarchy that protects their practical, self-centred and short term world view.
Nine solutions for anxiety and depression:
· First, acknowledge your anxiety. You are not crazy. There is nothing “wrong” with you. Don’t believe the lies that the dominate culture is presently trying to lull us back to sleep. Your present state of high anxiety is not an illusion created by your dysfunctional mind or brain chemical imbalances. You are simply responding realistically and healthily to a global crisis. There is good reason for all of us to be anxious, and very apprehensive about our present state of affairs. In all three realms of being of Gaia, mineral, plant and animal, there are massive destructions taking place. In the personal, relational and spiritual realms of experience, many beings are alarmed about the survival of life on this planet. We all need to develop bigger vessels of understanding.
· Do not become overwhelmed by the enormity of the present world state. Be aware of it, don’t try to deny it, minimise or ridicule it. These crises can be creative, healing and ultimately will lead to the greatest self-growth and progression in the known history of humanity. Believing that you can respond effectively is part of the recovery from crippling anxiety and its attendant response, depression. Watch when you see yourself slipping into denial states, such as accepting lies about of the inevitability of things never getting better, that we are all doomed, that nothing will ever change, that you’re not good enough…. These denial states will creep in as the underlying foundations of depression, anger, resentment, self- criticism, anhedonia and hopelessness.
We will all experience negative emotions from time to time, but catch them and recognize them for what they are-resistance to growth. The greater truth is that consciousness cannot be destroyed. We can suffer greatly, but our consciousness is beyond time and space that our lives are a great drama to make us grow, be creative and show love and caring for Gaia in the same way She loves us.
Remember these three guidelines:
Act with the resources on hand
Work with the people in front of you
Even if you take the verbs out of these guidelines-start, act, work- you will still progress. You will still be using this precious human life to contribute to the great goodness that is Gaia.
· Take action today. Anxiety is a call to action. Always.
Don’t just believe, contemplate, talk, think, or run and try to hide. Act positively, each 24 hours. Keep records of your positive actions if you need as a reminder of your progress. Journal your development, even if it appears to be progressing at a snail’s pace.
Take action in all three realms of your being, each and every day.
Earth; production, work, livelihood, contribution to the world thru discipline and effort
Air: relationships, family and communities, the practicing of compassion and love
Water: spirituality, a vision of the whole, living with consciousness of interconnectiveness, honouring our first mother, Gaia.
Set a small goal that you are certain is attainable, but set it with enough challenge that you can strengthen yourself. If you’re serious about resolving your anxiety, or if you want to grow and develop a better foundation for joy in your being-work each day this is the best way to proceed.
Earth: Today I will draw for one hour, doesn’t matter what I draw or how terrible an artist I am, I’m just going to draw something that attracts my attention for an hour in the afternoon while I’m having my tea break.
Air: I’m going to phone a friend I’ve been thinking about for a while and chat.
Water: I’m going to go for a long walk along the beach by myself in the morning and do walking meditation.
You notice that there aren’t rigid times to each of these areas of activity, but they are specific enough that you will know when you’ve achieved them. This way you can build success you’re your life in small incremental steps.
· Spend at least 20 minutes a day in the not-human world. Go for a walk outside, sit with your spine resting directly on the earth or against a big tree, don’t let any intrusive thoughts interrupt your rest from the busyness and distractions of the human and machine world. If you have a dog who needs to be walked, then let your canine friend take you into the natural world. We need time every day, and ideally, several weeks a year, as far away as possible from the human world to replenish those deeper parts of ourselves which are beyond the fixing, talking and producing parts. This is where we all started from and need to return to every day in the same way that we need to sleep and return to the sub consciousness to maintain our sanity, stability and healthy perspective on life.
I show you how to connect with the environment in my latest book: Soul Catching, Finding sacred connections in our environments (Star, 2017). This book will show you how to draw nourishment from your environments, and especially the natural environments. With time, you will come to understand the environment as your greater self, and learn how it can be used for guidance and catching lost parts of yourself.
· Live each day with balance, even if those around you demanding that you live without balance. Let each aspect of your being be nourished by your day-personal, relational and spiritual. If you are imbalanced in one of these areas, then notice how that is affecting the rest of your being. Is your anxiety preventing you from connecting with others, and by others I mean not just other people, in fact that is the least of what I mean. I am referring to the non-human world, nature, environment, other animals and plants. So if the human world is overwhelming for you, which is common with anxious people, then connect with nature by going for a walk every day for at least 20 minutes, take some time to appreciate beauty around you, to simply be in your body by breathing, movement and appreciation. Take long breaks away from machines and technology. Don’t be duped into thinking that using any kind of technology it a substitute for embodied connection. If you go for a walk, don’t listen to music, listen to the environment. If you are visiting with friends, leave your technology at home. If you have spiritual practices, do them with a scared and present mind state. Leave machines out of it, their intentions do not hold our best interests in their purposes.
· Define your gifts are and commit to developing them every day, no matter how trivial your contributions seem. Remember the story about the widow and the mite that she gave to the temple in the Book of Mark (12) and Luke (21). Christ notes that her tiny contribution which appears to be much less than the offerings of the rich men and women, in the eyes of Soul, are greater and more significant.
So define what Soul has given you as a gift for the world. For a sparrow it may be a sweet song of five notes sung in the hot summer afternoon by a forest path. For a stone, it may be to receive rain drops along a garden wall. For you it may be some work that you can do well and which you dedicate to Gaia.
As I wrote this, I had to run down to the laundry room to get my laundry. It reminded me that for years I helped out my parents with a small resort by doing all the laundry during the summer months. I spent hours in a small outdoor laundry room, with the radio playing. The windows were high up, but I could catch glimpses of the arbutus tress that grew close by. I had lots of time to think as I folded, sorted and took clean laundry up to the cabins. It was a time of inner peace and clarity for me, a meditative practice that I gradually came to love. Now that they are both passed on, I am so thankful that I was able to contribute to their lives in a positive way. I’m glad that I was able to re pay them in a tiny way for the years of caring that they gave me when they were younger. Consider all your work, whatever it is as a repayment to the good mother, Gaia for the gift of life she has given you. Of course, you can extend gratitude to anyone or anything by dedicating your actions to them.
Do one small creative task every day. This can be making muffins, drawing, dancing, and writing in a journal. It is NOT going on line, and connecting with other people on “social media”. I often suggest that anxious clients be less tuned into the world’s woes. As Lao Tzu said in the Tao Te Ching, to let your heart wander will only make it sore. So take care of your heart.
· Review the three foundational practices of physical well-being-good sleep, nutrition and fitness. And I have lately added a new practice, reduce your screen time, avoid needlessly upsetting media sources and begin reading from paper sources for at least 20 minutes a day. You can be the most spiritual, productive or compassionate person on the planet, but if these foundations of well-being are ignored, you will be greatly hindered by your poor life style choices. Even saints and spiritual teachers must pay attention to these basics. So must you.
· Remind yourself every day that you are interconnected with all beings in an interdependent net of consciousness. This isn’t a phantasy, it is real. You have the power to influence everyone and everything just by being authentically yourself, by living with integrity in line with your deepest core values. I notice than many anxious people are afraid of living with the strength of their convictions. They are cowards. Live with courage. The universe rewards those who take risks for Her.
Remind yourself every day of these truths:
I AM WORTHY
I AM SIGNIFICANT
I AM INFLUECNING THE WORLD AND ALL BEINGS RIGHT NOW JUST AS I AM IN THIS MOMENT
I HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE ANYTHING I WANT
I AM INCREDIBLITY POWERFUL
Only by embracing of truth of interconnectiveness of all life on this planet can we survive. A tall order indeed! This need to leap up in consciousness calls for nothing less than a massive awakening into spirituality. By whatever name or description you want to call this aspect of your being, we must recognize our inter dependence and interconnectiveness with the greater aspects of who we are.
· Clear the central channel. Physically, depression and anxiety is held in the body as blocks in the central channel, or spinal nervous system. Un-integrated experience becomes embodied within you as blockages in your central channel. The central channel is that energetic flow of consciousness that comes in from the earth into the root of your spine. This is the first place that life energy enters your body at birth, and continues until your last breath, when the life energy will enter into the root of your spine and travel up your spine and out of the crown centre at your death. The life energy that keeps your body alive and well enters thru the spine at that area between the sit bone and travels up the spine with each breath. The life energy or consciousness travels up thru energy centres or chakras, from the root to the lower belly, to the solar plexus, heart centre, thru the throat, then mid brain and finally up into the crown of your head. There it pauses and gathers guidance and nourishment from spiritual aspects, and then begins the journey down the spine again, grounding back into the earth. The process begins anew with each breath. In this way we are connected with the earthy aspect of our beings which are embedded in our bodies in this moment. In the journey up the spine, we become aware of more spiritual aspects and finally we ascend into the transpersonal aspects of our beings which are beyond time and space.
If this journey of consciousness is blocked in the central channel, dis-ease begins to develop. Dis-ease develops in a myriad number of ways, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Begin with a daily practice of taking a few moments every day to develop awareness of how the breath moves up and down the spine, and then notice where in your spine you lose awareness in your spine. Practice circular breath. For instructions in this, see my previous blog about this excellent meditative practice. You will realise that the areas in your spine where you don’t have awareness are areas that hold un-integrated experience, discomfort, trauma or injury. Then you begin to focus on these areas and consciously bring awareness into them. You will notice that when you become more conscious of these blocks, you can gradually clear them, and they will come into alignment with the central channel.
Over time joy and foundational well-being can be re-established, with the four traits of enlightened existence: sympatric joy, intuitive discernment; equanimity and compassion. These are the true antidotes to anxiety and depression.
Of course, this is a long and arduous task and these four qualities will not be handed over to you easily. This can take years, or even life times. Then gradually, you can develop the ability to hold spiritual awareness. And with this development comes a gradually return of foundational well-being.
My newest book “Soul Catching-Finding sacred connections in our environments (Star, 2017) is for sale thru my website visionaryjourneys.ca.
Joy in the journey!