Living From the Neck Up

So many of us are living in an overwhelming state. We are over-occupied trying to think our way out of our problems. We have been raised to fix problems and seek solutions. We live in a world that spins faster and faster via the internet, remote controls, cell phones, video games, etc. It wouldn’t surprise me if one could soon get a college degree in ‘faster performance.’

We are faced with a serious dichotomy, a dichotomy born of the information age: while technology facilitates faster and faster communication, it becomes harder and harder for us to focus on what it is we want to communicate. The pace at which we’re all but forced to live, speeds up our thoughts, and chops them into short, quick segments, disrupting our ability to concentrate for long periods of time.

The result is anxiety, a pervasive sense of fear or dread that we are not equipped to deal with whatever faces us. It is a feeling that we can’t take in a full breath. There is often a light-headed quality that comes with anxiety. A catch-22 occurs — we can’t concentrate because we’re anxious, and we become more anxious because we can’t concentrate.

How to ward off these uncomfortable symptoms? Settling into our bodies and feeling our feet on the ground is the first step to resolving anxiety. Exercise can help us achieve a certain calm, but without awareness of our inner life, exercise won’t solve the core issue.

Consider taking a ‘distress inventory.’ When we clarify what, exactly, we are anxious about, rather than incessantly worrying or vaguely complaining that we are stressed, we can address the issues we obsess over.

For instance, “I am thinking I might get fired.” Drop deeper to the next level of thought, e.g., “I won’t get another job because I’m unskilled and the economy is bad.” Drop deeper, “I don’t believe in my ability to come through no matter what the odds.”

The facts seem so convincing, but deep down, we find the childhood messages: “You’ll never amount to anything,” “You’re inadequate,” or whatever it was. Here is the opportunity to supply ourselves with a new “parent” by reading a self-help book (free at the library or on the Internet,) finding a mentor, experimenting with prayer and meditation, inviting the Universe to surprise us with Love and Protection.

And finding out what we’re thinking at the deepest level is just the first step in unraveling what seem to be our problems. In the end, addressing your distress at its deepest level, identifying its components and then finding ways to move through them, can be an avenue to enriching your life.

There are many body-centered therapies that are very effective in clearing the negative energy that becomes anxiety — EFT (emotional freedom technique), HRM (heart rhythm meditation), and yoga are just a few healing techniques that can be of great help in taking this last, indispensable step toward establishing your own pace amidst the race.

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