Please note : This post is personal and a tad on the deep side. I encourage you to read it because it may help someone you know. My intention for sharing is to tell the truth and I hope it reminds others know they are not alone or crazy. Thank you.
There is a phrase commonly used in America and it is “I am going out of my mind”; I remember the days when my anxiety ran my life and I would repeat these words as if it were a mantra. If I didn’t stay busy with cleaning or organizing my home I would be in silence, which was about as scary as being in the dark with no flashlight. With every task I kept my mind running and spinning, I basically took it to an aerobics class every waking hour. I would rearrange my sock drawer until everything was lined up perfectly and afterwards I felt I could breathe again. I would fold laundry but I wasn’t folding anything at all, I was running story lines in my head and thinking about the next thing on my to-do list. Where was I during these moments of being in my mind? Well, I know now I was in the past or future. I did not have the capability of being in the present because that was too painful and it hurt to feel the hole in my heart. You see, I was in a marriage that was slowly dying and I was dying with it.
Today, I am grateful that my anxiety has been dissolved over the last three years of intense work and assignments with my mentor, Moe Ross of Hollyhock Retreat in the Illinois countryside. After a year of introduction material and mindfulness exercises I slowly began the practice of meditation. When I first began doing my work I had a hard time focusing on what was outside my mind and in the moment. I would often cry so hard my brain felt frozen. All I wanted was for the stories to stop running and for there to be moments where I didn’t have one single thought. I spoke to many friends who said they had a pill that could take care of “it” but my heart knew that was not the answer. How was I supposed to be quiet when the rat race was taking place in my mind? It took time but one day I took a walk in the desert with my dogs and just focused on not entering my mind. Eventually, I began to understand the purpose of meditation; it was not to reduce stress or become more relaxed although that was generally the outcome. With lots of practice, I began to feel my mind quieting and my heart opening to my real voice, the small voice within that carried all the answers. I remember the first time I felt this shift and it was something invisible and yet so palpable. In that moment of profound realization I knew I was capable of being out of my mind and for once, I felt at home. For once, I wasn’t thinking of my divorce, where I would live, what others would think of me or anything…I was just in the moment, pausing and allowing the small still voice inside to gently speak. We’ve all heard this voice at some stage in our life, some call it intuition.
Today, when I take a walk I am able to pass the older couple sitting on the park bench gazing out on the lake instead of power walking to get my workout in. I stop, look and just witness the love. I don’t allow my mind to wonder randomly anymore, I keep it quiet with one practice and that is: as soon as my mind wonders to a place that does not move me forward I remind myself I am HERE and the time is NOW. If I were to continue letting my mind run who knows where it would end up! As many of us know, the blessings and the miracles are in the present, they are true gifts.
I can now be grateful for my divorce as it took me to levels of deep pain that led me to discovering my true self. The hole in my heart has now been filled with the love that already runs through my veins. The journey has not been easy and I would not wish it upon anyone but I will say it has been profound and significant. In the moments of darkness I found the light within me. We all have it and it begins and ends with awareness. If you know someone who is experiencing anxiety please share this as it may drop a seed and with your love, it will sprout something beautiful.
Image taken by Jocelyn Casey.