The theme for this month seems to be ANXIETY. We are an anxious culture and no feeling is quite as unendurable as anxiety. The landscape of it is different for everyone but always it is marked by the feeling of being on edge and out of control. Sometimes the anxiety is colored with an intense fear of something intangible and dark; other times the anxiety is tinged with agitation and borderline hostility. Anxiety is the result of our brain telling us to ramp things up, because danger is lurking near.
I believe that the ultimate hallmark of anxiety is when we leave this present moment and become stuck in some future event that we've imagined (i.e. the loss of a job or relationship, death, danger, deadlines) or stuck in an event from the past (i.e., shameful mistakes, loss, traumatic events). Anxious people have great difficulty remaining in the now, and yet this is exactly where they need to be. When we are anxious, we believe we are maintaining control of a scary situation by either imagining how we will control it in the future or how we could have in the past. To sit in the present means to sit in the potential distress of the unknown. For many people, worry and compulsive planning have been preferable to sitting in the distress of right now.
But what if you could find GOOD things in the right now? When we learn to slow our minds and our bodies, we connect to ourselves in a meaningful way and to a power greater than ourselves. Through this connection we are energized, motivated, and fueled with creativity. I tell many of my clients that their brains are in a perpetual "anxiety cramp." Years of worrying and panic have set the brain's default response mode to ALARM. Unfortunately, the brain begins to send these alarm signals in the absence of any true danger! It takes time to massage the worry from our minds and learn that we have some control over the content of what is happening in our beautiful, chaotic head.
God calls himself The Great I Am. In the now. The present. This moment. If we want to connect with the ultimate source, we have to stay in the right now. God meets us there with peace, comfort, and sometimes answers. For many people, learning to still their minds is difficult, but I encourage you-- it's not impossible. By daily practicing new skills, you can change your brain, and you set your new default to this wonderful setting called peace.