The winds are coming as spring approaches. And the winds, strong and adamant, speak to us of our own blowing, sweeping and wild thoughts.
What am I to do? This is the question of anxiety. Buddhist philosophy comments on anxiety as a state of being in the future, which is ultimately made up in our minds, and that the focus must be finding our way constantly back to the here and now. Some suggest that boredom is a mask for anxiety, coming out of not knowing what to do with ourselves. (When we turn to our phones in moments of aloneness, are we bored or anxious?) Anxiety can also be a sign of a highly imaginative and active brain that has no checks and balances, going to all sort of creative scenarios that can lead to many terrifying/exciting outcomes leading to other possibilities of what one would do in all cases. It’s an endless choose your own adventure bed-time story that keeps you up all night.
The truth of the matter is, no matter what, feeling anxious is not something we aim to feel. So what is happening when so many of us are finding ourselves in this tight spot, tensed in our bodies by our own thoughts?
Something important is missing.
When we are caught in anxiety, we are exaggerating just one part of ourselves. This is a part of ourselves that can be considered the worried adult preparing for the worst and working hard to ensure all things go smoothly
Let us look at the story of The Bird Who Knew Too Much : The Bird worried about everything, leading to misery. The Bird was advised to accept uncertainty and then began to connect to the senses of the body. Suddenly, the Bird was able to hear the song of the other birds and see and feel the forest’s beauty. The Bird became awake to other parts of self.
Anxiety keeps me up at night, it causes me to wake up earlier than I want to, and the stress at times is unbearable. These perseverating thoughts are exhausting. Worsts of all, it prevents me from seeing who entirety of the world. The best way I do this is through nature. In the natural world, I don’t know what will happen, when the hummingbird will swoop through, when the beaver will flop its’ tail, when the wind will blow. To connect to our human nature is to find a way of getting comfortable with ambiguity. When stepping into this unknown, I accept the magic in each moment. And instantly, I find myself in my body, not my brain. I hear, I see, I feel, and I play. Here is where the greatest healing of anxiety happens.
Of course, the time of body and play cannot last forever. In time, we will be propelled into the big question: who am I? This part of self is as essential as that of the brain, the mysterious, and the body. This is the part of soul, emotion, depth. It’s not about doing, it’s about being. In the dark moments, the boring moments, that mask our anxiety, can we stay, and in it find our unique purpose. Then, we can be informed, and only then we can begin to act, from purpose. Anxiety decreases, our gift comes through, what we are to offer this world is present and known, without doubt or second thought, with focus and intention. This is how we really heal anxiety: let go of doing, connect to uncertainty, the body, the “who am I” and your unique purpose in this world. Nature is our greatest ally in this process.