The last few days have been a smooth ride. The weather has taken a turn for the more springlike and I have been practising shedding the dated scripts and the old skins and experiencing through fresh eyes. Its wonderful to be relatively unburdened by fear and with a much reduced anxiety level. I have been feeling anxiety still here and there, just not getting stuck right in it.
I have been remembering more that noticing exquisite beauty in each new moment is an ongoing possibility. I only have to breath, pause and look. Riches are all around me when I remember to do this. I just open my eyes to the continuous changing variety of beauty and support all around me.
Right now here I have the latest Tara Brach talk playing beside me, this wonderful computer is allowing me to communicate with people around the world, the smell of my lime tea is rising up, the quietness of the street out there, the sun shining on the budding branches of the old trees, the clean window allowing me to view outside clearly, the sight of the hills in the background rising from the cityscape, the warmth of the heating keeping me cosy. I could go on and on, the more I notice, the more I notice.
It is like pressing the restart button on the computer when it starts to be clogged up with too much background going on. Just stop for a second and notice what is actually happening right now.
When I am triggered and in an anxious state, I am less able to do this. However tools for calming the fears are available and self soothing is possible. The limbic system of the brain can be reassured and comforted. Here is a 10 minute talk on talking nicely to ourselves by a man who helped me a lot Paul Gilbert. He gave me a helpful biological context and understanding of how this all works in our brains. It is not our fault that we have inherited a system from evolution that requires some skill to navigate! Here’s a longer talk by Paul Gilbert about the fear of compassion.
A while ago the old habit of fearing had edged back in and I was feeling anxious a lot of the time. I was spinning around on my own, feeling stuck in a constricted state. I lost the courage to open up to the feelings and to direct compassion towards myself. I knew I needed help. I found Peter Strong online after searching for ‘mindfulness therapy Skype’ and he gave me some further tools. I highly recommend his sessions, he isn’t like a normal therapist who drags you through your past, and I was pleased he didn’t as I was dreading that, all the feelings and its boring too now, Im so used to my ‘story’. With him it was straight into what is happening right now. He listens, talks and does live meditation sessions with you. (His fees are negotiable and income related too). I have had two 90 minute sessions with him so far and have learned such a powerful tool, that now Im taking a break to put into practice what I have learned.
The action of directing a sort of friendly parental kindness towards the part of me that is feeling afraid, had remarkable results. To meditate on the feelings he taught me. A few breaths and then just sit for a while. And then to identify in the body where the feeling is. And then to embrace it. The kind parental self turns towards it and listens to it.
‘Yes, I hear you, there you are”. And then to move the feeling sensation from where it is to a different position. He suggested the lap, which I did, so from my throat down to my lap, with kind attention. And the fear dissolved instantly. It can be moved wherever it feels right to you. Now when I do this exercise I have added a little inner imagery of holding the feelings gently in my arms on my lap, sort of cradling them as you would a baby. Very powerful indeed. I am loving looking after myself in this new way.
I am continually shocked at how different life is depending on where I am viewing it from. When I am more afraid, life seems full of threats, I dont feel enthusiastic, or even curious about much.
When I am more loving than fearful then life is full of miracles. It is so different. My responses to others are less scripted and more natural, I am motivated by curiosity to get out there into the world and to experience things, I am more creative and enjoy taking photos, I am inclined to read less negative material…
And yet nothing on the ‘outside’ has changed, just the inner perspective. This is a hugely powerful facility that we have.