If you’re like me, you feel a constant need to be doing, doing, doing. Working, improving, building, working out, consuming, investing, hustling, grinding.
The antidote to this anxiety is, go figure, not doing. Meditating, going for a walk, resting, doing yoga, journaling, making art. Doing anything that allows the mind to slow down and the body to relax.
Not vegging out watching Netflix. Not numbing out with a glass of wine. (Though, there’s nothing inherently wrong with doing either.)
Not doing is slowing the mind and relaxing the body enough to simply be with what’s actually happening in the moment…
The pandemic — despite its horror and injustice — has had a few silver linings, one of them being that it’s forced us to have more uncomfortable conversations.
About whom to allow into our homes unmasked or — now — unvaccinated. About expectations. About personal boundaries.
I met my girlfriend on a dating app in the heart of the pandemic winter. When we talked about masks and social distancing for our first date, it felt like we were talking about condoms and STDs.
My shoulders tensed and my breath shortened. …
The life coach Katie Shannon (and fellow Baltimorean) recently wrote something on Instagram that made me stop scrolling and put my phone down.
“Anxiety is the price I pay for being my own higher power.”
I pay a high price for my anxiety. I’m almost always worried about something.
Most of the day, I’m either fretting about getting more work done. Or judging myself for having too little money or too much fat on my stomach. Or wishing I’d said something different. Or people-pleasing. Or craving something to numb out with, like caffeine, alcohol, weed, masturbation, or shitty TV.
Spring weather. No masks for the vaccinated. It really does seem like life is returning to “normal” — at least in the U.S. and other rich countries.
But why am I still worn out? Why am I not excited for the rest of 2021 and beyond? Why does it feel like there’s always more work to do?
Because of capitalism, duh.
Despite the Republican Party’s propaganda that anyone who is struggling to get by is lazy, Americans are a hardworking bunch. We work longer hours, have shorter vacations, get less benefits, and retire later than people in comparatively rich countries…
The author and spiritual teacher David Deida tells a story about being at a party and seeing his mentor’s wife talking with an attractive man.
“Aren’t you jealous?” Deida asked his mentor.
“Yes,” his mentor responded. “But that I’m jealous isn’t bothering me.”
In other words, his mentor was choosing how to relate to his jealousy. He wasn’t turning the emotion into a problem. He was allowing it to just be there.
As the therapist and meditation teacher Ralph De La Rosa says, “Our emotions aren’t up to us. What we do with them, however, is absolutely up to us.”
This is for those who’ve never been to therapy. You’re not crazy or weird or broken. You’re just a human living in a society out of touch with its humanity.
Like many men, I probably wouldn’t have ever seen a therapist if it weren’t for a woman.
That’s because those of us who were raised as men were shamed for showing emotions. We were told to “man up” and stop acting “like a girl.” So we shy away from feeling let alone talking about our vulnerability. (Because ours is a patriarchal society, many women experience the same pressures.)
Let’s zoom in on mindfulness to get a sense of what we’re after when we sit down to meditate.
Mindful.org says it’s “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
There are a few interesting things here.
Mindfulness is a “basic” human ability. Meaning, it’s not some complex skill that we have to spend 10,000 hours learning how to do. It’s available to us in any moment.
You can think of the ability to stay in the present moment…
This will sound wrong to your modern, capitalist ears, but it’s true. Relaxing the body relaxes the mind far more than the other way around.
School didn’t teach us this. The stories our society tells about success and happiness don’t reflect it.
We’re told that thinking is king. That rational thought is more valuable than emotion. That more information — more data — is always better.
But that just doesn’t line up with the science of how the body works.
Some 80 percent of information that travels between the mind and body goes from the body to the mind.
When was the last time you felt triggered by someone you love? What about the last time you treated someone in a way you now regret?
What did it feel like in your body? What was going through your mind? Can you remember?
Maybe your shoulders pulled up. Maybe the muscles around your eyes scrunched. Maybe your stomach balled up in a knot.
Maybe you can’t remember your body because you were so lost in thought.
What you were experiencing was a deep-rooted pattern that started when you were little. …
My dad comes from a working class area of West Virginia, with German Protestant ancestors who were sent to the American colonies as indentured servants. My mom, from a long line of self-sufficient family farmers in rural Maryland.
No wonder I struggle with anxiety. Particularly, anxiety about never getting enough work done. A voice in my head that whispers, “You better get moving.” A wretched restlessness that won’t quit until I burn out and collapse.
I inherited generations of capitalist ways of being. …