The Meaning of Anxiety

All of us have felt ‘anxious’ at different points of time in our lives. We feel it as

  • restlessness: in the mind (too many thoughts), body (inability to sleep, muscle tension)
  • in the doing mode
  • feeling of being overwhelmed
  • feeling like ‘there is something still to be completed’

This is a state of dissatisfaction, unrest. One is constantly waiting to arrive and never does. Our focus is on the future and our inner peace is dependent on some future event which is yet to happen. When at its worst, you do not feel safe in your own body and have a sense of being flighty.

Santa Cruz - relaxing

Santa Cruz

 

From a psycho-spiritual perspective, anxiety arises in the consciousness when one is not true to one self. You are not all that you can be. You are compromising your needs, desires, dreams etc hoping to please everyone else and thereby find your own happiness. You are leading a life based on how someone else (person, society, religion, media) expects you to live.

At the very center of your being, this knowledge exists and surfaces in the form of anxiety. There are several ways to subside the symptoms but healing does not occur unless you work on the sources of the anxiety.

Bringing your awareness into the present moment using various relaxation/visualization techniques and mindfulness can be a good start. The feeling of ungroundedness can also be abated by connecting to earth in some way i.e. gardening, walking barefoot on earth, hugging a tree etc.  Finding the courage in accepting that you are not living your full meaningful life will need some therapeutic work.

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The Sleep Rule:)

While I was getting accustomed to my new smartphone a few days ago, my phone began to prompt me with ‘smart actions’ (and now some smart people will know which phone I use..haha). I was happy that I didn’t have to do all the work by myself to save my phone’s battery and data usage! Within a few days my phone prompted me to create a ‘sleep rule’ which will help , put my phone on silent, conserve the battery, restrict the background synchronization and dim the brightness of the screen during certain hours of the night. I was thrilled by the intelligence by phone demonstrated and I activated the sleep rule. The best part of it was that my phone allows me to set exceptions to the rule and also triggers to the activating the rule. If you have read my other blogs, you will know that I love metaphors and here was a great one that I have not stopped mentioning to people I meet. One of the triggers was the ‘time’ of the night which activated the rule everyday at 10pm for me.

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Enchanting Full Moon in Boston

Hmmm…now comes linking this to our everyday life. I find it amazing and amusing that we can think about ‘recharging’ and ‘conserving’ our phone’s batter but not ours! We have been living under some illusion that we can go by everyday life while taking on different stresses without making an effort to recharge in some way. Making an extra effort to meditate, take a walk, and go for a swim is all too much to ask for on a daily basis (yes, we are good at making excuses). Nonetheless, we also want to function without sleep or the most minimal possible. For some of us, our upbringing has been one where ‘sleep’ means ‘inactivity’ and that translates to being unproductive which is anything but acceptable. We have always got to be ‘doing’ something or appear to be doing something productive. My sense of wonder arises when we let so called ‘machines’ to rest and not ourselves who still are not ‘machines’ or so is my hope. Having lived in a city that never sleeps (Mumbai) and worked in management positions where you always expected to be available, I do know what damage we do to ourselves and then wonder ‘why do I feel like a money earning machine’. Now that I have built up some frustration, lets talk about a simple solution we can begin incorporate on a daily basis.

Design your own Sleep rule. Find out what is the average amount of sleep you need (not minimum) to feel refreshed. Plan to call a ‘ceasefire’ or a gradual slowing down of activities that stimulate you at least an hour prior to your preferred sleep time. You can call this your ‘sleep cushion’. Intend on getting off your laptop, tv, cell phone, stimulating conversation including fights with your partner/parent etc. Another rule that goes along with this is to not have any machines that emit electromagnetic radiations in your bedroom (you know what these areJ). Bedroom needs to be used to sleep/relaxation/sex. Use music that soothes you during that hour along with fragrances or lights that bring your ‘anxiety’ down. You can also choose to not take a fight into the bed!

Examples of some relaxing fragrances include Jasmine, Lavender, Chamomile.

Examples of soothing music include sounds of water, smooth jazz etc. A lot of music that is played in Spas works too. As for lighting, all I would say it needs to be your version of ‘going to bed’. I know some people feel ‘anxious’ with large white fluorescent lights and calmer with yellow lights. Your bedding could be a texture that is smooth and using colors that calm you might be helpful.

All of these are just meant to be guidelines and they are more fun when you experiment with themJ