All I had to do to get relief from my anxiety, was to stop the dang car and ask for directions.
I just finished 25 pieces of art for my recent Love Club series (see photo above), creating an online shop, and I’m in the middle of launching a sale that I have been marketing for a month. The Love Clubs took twice as long to finish as I thought they would and so I’ve been working nine to 14 hour days for the past nine days straight to get all of this completed.
And I had to do all of this on the tail end of one of the worst and longest anxiety rages that I have experienced in a long time. One that ended me up in my Dr’s office. I’m tired…but I have to say, I feel pretty great, and I wanted to report in with you regarding my newly adopted strategies in self-care.
Over the past three weeks, I’ve been consistent with the following doctor prescribed practices: I have been getting up early to practice meditation. I’ve cut my coffee with half decaf. I’ve been on a new supplement protocol. I’ve been eating more and exercising regularly.
I am a strong believer in signs.
I’ve also put into place two other practices based on the “signs” I observe in my everyday life. First off, I am a strong believer in signs. I am a spiritual person. I believe there is something that is part of everything in the universe that is bigger than me. Do I know what it is? Nope. Do I care that I don’t know? Not in the slightest.
I gave up trying to name it a long time ago. I don’t know what it is, how could I possibly? But I know it’s there. I guess, if I had to put a label on my spirituality, I’d call myself a spiritual agnostic. It’s not that I’m ready to believe in just any deity. I actually think that all the deities are one thing, and that it’s people who put labels on them…but I digress.
I believe that I am walking a path that has been laid out before me by something greater than myself, and that if I pay attention, I’m given direction all the time. I say morning prayers that are mostly made of me expressing gratitude, and asking for guidance. More specifically, the willingness to be guided.
My morning prayers usually come right after my meditation practice, so when I had that period of time when I wasn’t meditating, I also wasn’t asking for guidance. Over the past three weeks, I started asking again to, “please be guided through anxiety and fear and replace it with trust and confidence in the path that has been laid out before me.”
And guess what? There is was. Guidance in the form of a blurb on the back of a book, and in a damn Netflix show.
Two weeks ago, I told you about stumbling upon a surf book called, “The Code”, by Shaun Tomson. Through 12 short stories, Shaun “offers the simple message – I Will – as a model to face life’s challenges and help you achieve your goals.”
Last week, I mentioned watching a cool show on Netflix called, The Mind Explained, specifically episode four on Mindfulness. Turns out that one of the masters of mindfulness meditation suffered from crippling anxiety when he was a child. He learned that he could say hello to his anxiety, and be with it without freaking out. Not tell it to go away, but to simply be with it, and to actually talk to it: “Hello, Anxiety. How are you?”
Over the past couple of weeks, I decided to adopt these two strategies, and I have amazing things to report!
The power of saying "I Will".
I used to wake in the middle of the night and my mind would start racing and it was hard to settle it back down so I could fall asleep again. Also, upon waking in the morning, my mind immediately would start a frantic to do list of all the shit that I had to accomplish that day…or that month…or that year…it was an easy way to start my day in complete overwhelm.
So, what I began doing is turning all of those thoughts into “I Will” statements and they kind of morphed into an optimistic to do list for the day. “I will accomplish what I need to today. I will be positive. I will get exercise. I will meditate. I will remember to breathe. I will do enough….”
If I woke in the middle of the night, it became simply, “I will fall back asleep now”. If my brain started racing again, “That’s ok…I will fall asleep now and I will think about that later.”
In the beginning, it was hard to remember to do, but rather quickly became easier and easier. And guess what happened? I am waking up in the mornings now with only the “I will” statements in my head. The middle of the night I’m still working on, but baby steps, right? I can’t tell how much more positive I feel in the mornings now. It has actually been fun and exciting to get out of bed!!!
Recognizing My Anxiety, Worry About the Past, and Fear of the Future.
What landed me in the Dr’s office were anxiety induced heart palpitations. It is a new anxiety symptom for me and pretty scary feeling, which of course does nothing but produce more anxiety. After watching episode four of The Mind Explained on Mindfulness, I took in all the meditation master had to say, and I decided to put it into practice.
Even though I had begun feeling better already, the heart palpitations continued. I know I have a strong mind body connection, and my mind is always looking for places to send my fear and anxiety. Once those pathways are developed, they are hard to redirect. My heart is simply the latest place anxiety is being sent.
Each time I feel the anxiety begin in my stomach and race up to my heart, I say, “Hello anxiety, how are you?” Also, “Hello worry, how are you?”, “Hello future tripping, how are you?”, and “Hello fixation on the past, how are you?” In essence, I’m keeping myself in the present moment by practicing mindfulness in my daily thoughts.
I’ve been doing that now for about a week, and the palpitations have reduced in frequency and in intensity. They’re still happening, but they are much improved. Also, my stomach issues cleared up and I haven’t gotten a recent migraine. (Two other common anxiety and stress symptoms for me.) Maybe my anxiety just wanted to be recognized…
Neither of these exercises were prescribed to me by a professional. But, I had been asking for guidance in dealing with the fear and anxiety, and these two strategies appeared. Sure, it could be coincidence, but I’ll say this: whenever I’m tapped into my spirituality, solutions like these tend to present themselves with less worry and struggle.
It’s kind of comforting, you know? To think that in all of our confusion, overwhelm, and uncertainty, that there could basically be a roadmap showing us the way. I’d say it sounds too good to be true, but how can I deny these experiences? I’ve never been one too proud to stop my car and ask for directions, so I’ll choose to think of this in the same way.
I’d love to hear from you about if you’ve had similar experiences. In the comments below, can you tell me about a time that you followed your own signs?
And if you are curious, and maybe looking for a prayer of your own, you’re welcome to use mine, said verbatim each morning after 20 minutes of meditation:
My Morning Prayer
“Good morning. Thank you for my life, my health, my family and friends, my home, for art and music, the ocean and the mountains, and all of these amazing experiences I get to have.
Please continue to give the guidance, strength and clarity to stay on your path and please continue to give me the willingness to accept and recognize your path.
Please continue to help me walk through anxiety and fear, and replace it with trust and confidence in the path that has been laid out before me.
Thank you for these gifts. Thank you for your love. May I do your will always. Amen.”
BTW - My most recent art series, The Love Club (pictured above) is open to the public starting today, Thursday, October 3rd and will close at the end of the day on Monday, October 7th. Click here to learn about the Love Club and to shop the latest collection.
I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes. To hear from me more regularly, join me on this crazy, beautiful Artventure.