by columnist Gabrielle Harris
There should be laughter after pain
There should be sunshine after rain
These things have always been the same
So why worry now
Why worry now
For about 20 years I suffered from low level anxiety to panic attacks that were bought on by being away from home. I since learnt the root cause of these but that is not what really saved me, YODA saved me.
Stress, panic and anxiety are rife in our society. We worry constantly about one thing or another which puts our body into a constant state of physiological arousal. This response, known as flight or fight, is stimulated when we become stressed, even if we just perceive stress and don’t actually have it.
This in turn sends messages to the parasympathetic nervous system readying us for our perceived battle (run or fight).
This response was most useful when we had woolly mammoths about to eat us, but since they haven’t been around for a while, we like to fill that space with other stuff.
When we live in a constant state of being slightly revved up our bodies respond in kind with stress related illness, colds, headaches, stomach upsets. It is thought that around 80% of illness is stress related.
Here are some of the things we worry about; some you may find amusing, some may relate to you. They are all real examples from people I know:
- I’m worried my plane might fall out of the sky because they are taking off the Qantas staff and replacing them with cheaper labour
- I’m worried my car may get stolen because it has just been warranted
- I’m going to be late, early, dressed wrongly, unprepared, not know what to say.
- I did it wrong, I don’t know what to do, I need to do it right, I can’t seem to do anything right.
- I’m too fat/ thin (insert your own adjective)
- There’s too much to do, there’s not enough time. I’m running out of time.
- The Tsunami will strike our house next, followed by war, famine and nuclear disaster plus a stock market crash.
It is believed that we have around 60, 000 thoughts a day, and around 59,000 of them are the same as yesterday.
What this means is that we are masters of playing our favourite tapes over and over again. We constantly reinforce whatever belief we have of ourselves in the future and past, rehashing and reinforcing until our belief becomes our reality, and our reality gives us something to worry about.
My reality was that I couldn’t leave home, I wouldn’t be able to cope or sleep. I would become depressed and anxious and then need to come home.
This manifested itself in the following behaviours:
- Arriving in an overseas country and turning around and coming home within two hours. One staff member thought this was so odd and I must have such a terrible problem that she upgraded me to first class.
- Taking sleeping pills then worrying I would die in my sleep like Michael Jackson. (Try staying awake after taking a sleeping pill.)
- Trying NLP therapy.
- Buying all manner of over the counter sleeping/ anxiety medicines.
- Not eating. Vomiting. Upset stomachs.
- Fear. Fear. Fear.
My teacher says that worry is like sitting in a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but you ain’t going anywhere. I wasn’t going anywhere, very slowly, and then YODA saved me. It was so simple a flash of lightening out of the sky.
What is in that deep dark swamp?
Only what you take with you.
And there is was, in a nutshell.
Only what you take with you.
It’s so bleeding obvious isn’t it? I had been carrying around with me this notion that something would happen to me when I left home and it was time to put it down.
This brings up some juicy yoga philosophy. To start with my problem was a classic example of not being present. If you are truly present in your life and attend to it moment by moment the fantasies of future problems merely fade away.
There is no future (only that which we create in our mind) and there is no past, only attachment to memories of what has occurred. If we understand this then we can understand that some of our greatest fears may never happen.
Suffering is optional. – Buddha
My all time favourite quote. When we are living our life do we want to make each moment as beautiful as we can? Or do we want to add our own brand of special sauce (fear, worry, regret)?
If we understand that it is our choice to hang onto our belief system, or to let it go then we can ameliorate a lot of our anxiety and fears. Like the saying goes you can either be right or be happy.
I still have twinges of anxiety when I travel. If they arise I now look at them with amusement, one of my side shows still vying for attention.
I say to myself, ‘Here I am in a moment of time’, and like everything it just melts into the past and I carry on with my day.