Jun 29, 2008

Meditation and living in the moment

If you were around for a while you know my hunger for comments. While feeling better over the last couple of months, I (and my blog) survived without many comments for a while now. On Friday I had the great pleasure of finding two very nice comments... Woohoo! I inspired someone to do something about their anxiety.

A new social anxiety blog is out! Please welcome travel.trekker1 and wish her good luck in your journey. She seems like a good buddy for me so I am looking forward to more posts and communication.

And an additional note about the last blog I wrote about: Matt Ambrose at Overcoming Social Anxiety: this is a must read. It is kind and gentle. It is the best writing on social anxiety that I stumbled upon. It makes me feel good about myself when I read it.

The guys at the Mental Health Blog Research Study have their survey up and you can take it if you want to help research anxiety disorders and blogs. Email mhblog@tcnj.edu before July 10, 2008 if you are interested.

In one of the latest comments, a reader talked about how difficult it is to be living in the moment. I've been working on this for the last half an year, so I can tell you what worked for me:

- Some sort of vigorous activity that requires concentration and doesn't leave you time to drift into thinking. Ashtanga yoga does this for me. But it took a while. For weeks I kept just thinking how hard it is, what comes next, this is hard, this is easy, and when is the end of the class, etc. I'm now just concentrating on the current posture and it's great.

- In the beginning, use your senses with strong cues: eat something you really love with great attention and pleasure: enjoy a chocolate truffle for a minute or so, smell a great perfume, listen to the birds singing, or to the ocean waves. Eventually you will start being aware of all the chatter around all the time and you will feel and touch and smell things without judgment, for example smelling something foul will just bring awareness not necessarily disgust.

- Read. You will be surprised how many successful people (like Seth Godin or John Halamka) have some sort of meditative practice and preach living in the moment and utilizing the time while you have it... NOW! to do something rather than think about what you could have done or what you will do.

- When overwhelmed with thoughts, ask yourself if there's anything I can do about this right now (can you write an email, make a call, etc. to make the idea happen)? If yes, just do it, if not, let the thought go. I used to fantasize a lot about spending time with friends and intelligent discussions we would have, etc. Now when I think about this, I just smile, say I love you to my imaginary friends and then think: Hey but you are not really here so Good Bye, I'll see you next time! No beating up, no frustrations, no expectations.

And because my commenter mentioned Eckhart Tolle, here's the list of things that helped me in my journey:

- The yoga teachers training at the Yoga and Healing Center in Scotch Plains, NJ - graduation in two weeks... need go practice and learn
- A Yoga, Chocolate and Wine seminar with Yoga Dave
- A 3 hours seminar with Bijan and reading Effortless Prosperity daily lesson and trying to practice it
- Reading A New Earth - Eckhart Tolle

Jun 13, 2008

The wavy line of anxiety

I noticed that with anxiety you can't just relax and let things the way they are. You continuously need to push through and challenge yourself. Any time spent in the comfort zone makes the anxiety take over more and more... You can give yourself a dy off, but that's a bout it, next day just start over and get into challenges again and again.

Of course the ultimate cure is living in the moment and realizing that all these things we so dearly care about (like other people's opinions or what X and Z said) ultimately don't mean anything. So complete relaxation is the cure. But even if you get there, there is a lot of work in continuing to do it and not getting back into your anxious spot.

Here's a visual cue that I'm using to think about this: take a piece of paper and write down any activity that involves interaction with other people grouping them from the ones that cause most anxiety to the ones with least anxiety. I would have an interview on TV on the left side and friendly chatting with my husband or interacting with my happy kid on the right. Now draw a wavy line to separate the activities between comfort zone and anxiety zone.

The aim of every day is to push that line more and more to the left including more and more activities that are uncomfortable. Doing them time and time again will make them shift into the comfort zone.

When you relax and don't push, the line will not be stable: it just moves to the right and you get more and more uncomfortable.

So in order to make any progress or even keep the statu quo, you need to work all the time, every day and every hour and push that line. It's a Sisyphus job, but it's the only way you can live and enjoy life.

No rest for the weary! Good luck and keep pushing that line!