Most of us can deal with a low level of anxiety by either accepting it or brushing over for a while, and doing what we do each day without too much interference by that anxiety. Obviously, this is not the proper way to DEAL with anxiety, but it helps getting through the day. One day at a time.
We are living in times when it has become a lot more difficult to just brush those anxieties away, of course, and it has become less easy to disregard them now. If you already are afraid for your life, becoming infected with a potential death threat, keeping other anxieties under wraps is becoming harder, if not impossible!
We need to find ways to lower the general level of fear and anxiety overall and there are a couple of tricks (yes: tricks!) that can help with moving forward healthily. I’m not claiming those will help you extract and get rid of anxiety, but they may just help with keeping you a lot calmer.
Stop binging news and talk radio! There is a fine line between ‘keeping informed’ and ‘getting a full whammy of everyone else’s anxiety thrown at you 24/7’. Stick to how you would have followed the news in the past: maybe watch a news bulletin once a day – preferably not in the evening but early on so you have a chance to digest and not fall asleep with worries on your mind. Read your one newspaper and leave it there. If something important happens, you’ll know!
Make sure you have a proper daily routine.
Regularity makes everything more predictable and gives you a chance to disregard the irregular things that create upset for you. Anything you KNOW is going to happen is helpful at this point.
Meditate at least once a day.
I realise that anxiety makes this more difficult, so why not incorporate some guided meditation into your day? There are lots of options on YouTube and there are Apps available that can help with it. Taking your mind off your worries is worth a try, isn’t it?
Don’t stay all on your own.
There are ways to communicate that you can explore, from text messages all the way to video conferences. Admittedly, this is different from meeting someone face to face, but it will have to do. You’ll probably find that just talking to another human being will make you feel better (don’t forget to stick with uplifting subjects and not go down the rabbit hole of each other’s worries).
Reach out to others.
You may be one of those people who thrive on helping others. By all means, keep doing this, any way you can!
Be good to yourself, more so than ever before.
If you share your home, be good to them, too! Take time when you need it, most things are not quite as important today as they were just weeks ago.
I hope some of these suggestions will be of help to you. I’m not personally all that anxious most times, but they keep me from seeing any anxieties develop in front of my own eyes.
Sometimes I’m surprised by my reaction to the contents of a novel and how pertinent to tantra some of these descriptions are. I recently picked up ‘The Master Butchers Singing Club’ by Louise Erdrich, a book I had already read a couple of times and came across the above paragraph. I was flummoxed by the sheer intensity of the scene, and how it describes in just a few words the notion of not just energies rising within both Delphine and Cyprian, but how they exchange that energy through an intimate connection made by eye contact. It seems to me that the author is describing a deep connection that consists of two elements:
First of all there is the eye contact. Conscious sensuality keeps pushing the eye gazing exercises and experience and this is one of the best examples I have found to show the power of that connection and how it connects the two partners on what can only be described as a mental, even spiritual level. What’s going on is completely non-corporeal, focused on an energetic connection between the two, bringing a long-standing yearning to a climax that keeps going.
The physical, sexual connection the two have is both a source and a result of those moving energies within each of their bodies. On the one hand, they have this bottled up sexual urge and restrictions (I recommend you read the book to hear more about this) that now come to the fore and ignite the energetic connection. On the other hand, the continued eye locking keeps the energy going, makes it go round and round, and intensify with each cycle.
Now THAT’s what I call Tantric sex! It’s not just the fact that it keeps going, but it’s all about the connection between the two partners, they are conscious about their sexuality, about the connection they have, and they are as one. And yes: this is a heterosexual couple but the same connection is innately possible between any two partners, of course. This is one of the best images I can conjure up to explain how all the breathing, touching, moving and communicating comes together to form something that is clearly larger than the sum of its parts.
Consider this: have you had a connection that relates to the one described above? Try and find out what made it so special and take the lesson with you next time you have sex…
Insecurities are all around us. ‘Will I be able to keep my job?’, ‘Will I run out of money?’ and ‘Will I get seriously sick?’ are just the first level of worries you’ll likely have. What about worries about others? ‘Is mum okay?’, ‘When will I see my grandchildren again?’ and ‘Where can I find toilet paper now?’ are further lines of worry you may be thinking about.
All of this leads to a situation where you will think that you have to DO a lot of stuff right away because the apocalypse is around the corner and you may run out of food. Of course, different people will react in different ways, more or less keep control of their reactions or break down completely from anxiety. This sounds very much like PTSD and in a way it could be, we just have not quite reached the P(post) of PTSD quite yet. I predict a lot of trauma and need for therapy when this is over, but you can do yourself some good with one simple action:
Be good to yourself and stop running for a moment!
I have found myself reacting to the crisis in a very particular way: I became super productive out of what felt like necessity. Since all or my income streams are people-based and required personal contact, I made work of shifting the bits I can to virtual assistance and then found even more ways to keep myself busy after that was finished. But then I saw some of my colleagues who have partners and kids showing signs of overwork from the sheer exhaustion of being around them all the time on top of trying to salvage their business. I took a good look at my situation and soon realised that I had poured all that anxiety into business planning (which was necessary, but not necessarily right now) and stopped in my tracks.
I didn’t need to do any of this right now. First of all, I had to take care of my own mental and physical health – especially since I showed symptoms of a cold/flu/corona infection and needed much rest. Coming out of two weeks of constant activity I now felt ready to let go and – believe me – my mind was so happy to just settle into ‘doing nothing’ for a change. Yes: I still had to make sure I had food in the flat (friends supplied that and I’m eternally grateful), but it turned out that I had no need to keep running. I had overcome the knee-jerk panic reaction and allowed myself time to reflect and bumble.
What does bumbling look like? Well: I’m doodling a lot, listen to music (avoiding talk radio and the news to a large degree), spend time cooking nice meals with what’s on hand, and speak to friends and family whenever I can.
I urge you to try this: slowing down does wonders for the soul.
When an exercise is physically demanding, your blood flow will increase and your lungs will work more to accommodate your body’s needs for oxygen. In a meditative exercise, the body may not be doing this on its own and you’ll have to make a conscious choice to breathe in a different way to enhance your meditation efforts. That said, breathing differently on your own can feel a little far-fetched, but give it a go.
Circular breath is one of those simple exercises that is very easy to learn but is extremely helpful with drawing your focus away from the daily routine and all the stuff that’s going on around you and in your mind. It’s easy, once you get the drift of the process. When you breathe normally you would breathe in, stop for a moment, breathe out, stop for a moment. Rinse and repeat, forever. Circular breath is just that, but without the stops.
Here’s how: start with an in-breath and when your lungs are full and you feel the urge to stop taking in more air, don’t stop and slowly let it out again until your lungs are empty. At that point, don’t stop either, but gently take air in again. Circular breathing means that you gently move from in to out and vice versa without a perceivable switch. Imagine a circle: you breathe in upwards and slowly reduce the speed and volume reaching the top, then drop down the other side right way by letting out the first bit of breath – and keep going. Same process at the bottom. And then keep going.
This gentle virtualisation and motion of air flowing in and out is sure to keep you focused and will help you get into that meditative, reflective, calm mood you are looking for. And your energy has shifted to a less hectic, more relaxed state.
Even in ‘real life’ we are making use of breath in similar ways: when someone needs to calm down we usually ask them to ‘breathe slowly’ or to ‘calm down and start breathing again’. That is in fact just the same thing in a non-meditative setting. Now try this: think of times and situations when your breath registered as unusual and look at just how your breathing pattern has been affected and why. Bring this learning to your meditation sessions and use it to make magic happen! There is nothing wrong with making use of what you already know is working…
These are my own thoughts on aspects of my work I feel strongly about.