This is the thing about the mind: If you don’t get a hold of it, it will head into the past or into the future, and pull you right out of the present moment. Worrying is nothing more than creating a state of anxiety about an event that may or may not come to pass. Worrying will not magically add money to your bank account, or have any effect whatsoever on any situation in your life, except that it will make you sick. Sick with tension. Being tense doesn’t help anything, either. It just makes it hard to eat or sleep. Sleep deprivation will also wear you down and make your thinking muddy. So why do we do it?
There are times we get ourselves completely worked up over a non-event, a non-issue. Obsession has a very similar set of side effects as worry. When we boil ourselves over a past event or a predicted outcome, although the event isn’t taking place in the present, it might as well be. Because when we fixate on something like a conversation that didn’t go the way we wanted it to, or one we’re anxious about having, we create a set of circumstances in the body that are not much different than they would be if this feared or unfortunate thing was happening right now. Or than they were when the past event happened. Your blood pressure doesn’t differentiate between an actual event or an imagined one if you get yourself worked up enough. Next time you’re “boiling yourself”, notice your shallow breath, your tensed shoulders, your clenched jaw, your furrowed brow. Your body is in a state of stress, and your mind has created it.
Sometimes logic helps. If you catch yourself spiraling, see if you can pull yourself out of it with a few questions: Is the way I’m thinking going to help in any way? Is it a productive way for me to think? Is it going to help me grow and open and learn something about myself? Am I in a state of resentment and blame? Is this a good use of my time and energy? If you come to the conclusion that no good will come from your train of thought, then you have to break out of the groove of it. Something physical usually helps a lot. For me it’s yoga, the movement and the breath, the awareness of sensation, the quieting of my mind, and the opening of my heart. But for some people it’s running, or wind-surfing, or gardening, or hiking. I do think moving your body and breathing deeply are key. If you can’t move your body because you’re stuck at work, then breathe deeply and consciously. If you can get out in nature, or even walk around the block, that is almost always soothing to the soul. Sometimes a dance party to the right song in your living room, or behind the wheel of your car is enough to shake the obsession off. But try to stop the tape and come back to now.
If you’re worrying or obsessing, put your hand over your heart so you can feel it beating, sit up as tall as you can, and take a really full inhale. Hold it in, and then let it all out. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Because you are so beautiful, and you have so much love within you, and that is available to you right now, in this moment. If you’re struggling to keep a roof over your head and food in your refrigerator, I fully get that asking you not to worry is not only unrealistic, it lacks compassion. And if you’re in that place, my heart really goes out to you. But short of that, I just thought I’d invite you back to now. Because we could hang out here together, recognizing that life brings all kinds of ups and downs, all kinds of joy and pain, all kinds of darkness and light, and worrying about any of it won’t change a thing. But being present for the ride is exhilarating. Wishing you a gorgeous day, everything that you need, and the knowledge that you are not alone. Sending love, as always, Ally Hamilton