Saturday, December 24, 2011

Transforming Anxiety

"The more original a human being is, the deeper is their anxiety"
Soren Kierkeggaard

"Large numbers of modern people seem to live fearlessly because they lack imagination. They suffer from an impoverishment of the heart. Total freedom from anxiety is the inner expression of a profound loss of personal freedom."
Karl Jaspers

"Our capacity for dealing with symbols and meanings, and for changing behavior on the basis of these processes - all are processes which are intertwined with our capacity to experience anxiety."
Rollo May

Anxiety is not something to be eliminated, but rather to be is not only a necessary component to normal emotional functioning, it also provides a rough and ready measure of our capacity for feeling and expressing all the other emotions.
1. Try to think critically about the things that are making you anxious, consider your anxiety as a challenge to help resolve some of the uncertainity of your life
2. Write about your anxiety - a written description transforms a feeling (an emotion) into words and deprives that feeling of its privileged access and control
3. Between anxiety episodes, stop concentrating on how you're feeling - shift the focus from what you are feeling to what you are doing
4. Learn to repress your anxious thoughts as anxiety feeds on our internal fantasies in which we rehearse all the things that can possibly go wrong (repression is not an inauthentic way of shielding oneself from the totality of an anxiety-inducing experience, but an effective coping style)
5. Adopt regular routines (not the same as rituals)...the goal is to take control of your anxiety, rather than allowing it to control you
6. Stick to priorities during times of heightened anxiety...remember the brain is constantly renewing itself and changing its "programming" based on your thoughts, attitudes and actions (so if you want to reduce the level of anxiety, act as if you've already accomplished your goal)
7. Avoid too much free time as it can be the breeding ground for anxiety...yet compulsive work is perhaps the most common way in America of allaying is one of the handiest ways of relieving anxiety and it can easily become compulsive
8. Try to maintain perspective...when you are anxious, you are focused on internal events, on the narcissistic world inside your head
9. Turn to family, friends, or colleagues when you are feeling your concerns and give others a chance to respond...isolation can increase our anxiety because when we are alone our fantasies escape the correction provided by another person's perspective
10. Make some form of exercise a regular part of your routine..anxiety includes a large motion component and we can have a hard time sitting still...exercise provides an outlet for that inner sense of restlessness

Highlighted by O'Steven from Poe's Heart and the Mountain Climber - Exploring the Effect of Anxiety on Our Brains and Our Culture
by Richard Restak, M.D.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Being Alone Together

No agenda - except to help people listen to their own soul
Paradox - of being alone together, of being present to one another as a "community of solitudes"
Circle of trust - to support an inward journey of each person
And/Both - we need interior intimacy that comes with solitude and the otherness that comes with community
Simultaneously - we need solitude and community to check and balance what we learn in the other and together they make us whole
Community - means never losing awareness that we are connected to each other, not about the presence of others but about being fully open to the reality of relationship
Space - create a space between us that is hospitable to the soul, where we can be alone together
Formation - best describes the Quaker practice of creating a circle of trust
Disclaimer - it is not a process in which the pressure of orthodox doctrine, sacred text, and institutional authority is applied to the misshapen soul in order to conform it to the shape dictated by some theology
Soul - is always calling us back to our birthright of integrity
Invited - to conform our lives to the shape of our own souls..and grow our selfhood like a plant, from the potential within the seed of the soul, in ground made fertile by the quality of our relationships
What kind of space - our soul's essence is a mystery, like a wild is tough, resilient, resourceful, savvy, and self-sufficient, it knows how to survive in hard places
Shy - despite being tough it is shy, and seeks safety in dense underbrush, and if we can learn to walk quietly, sit patiently, breathe with the earth and fade into our surroundings, the wild creature we seek might put in an appearance
Community - unfortunately it too often means a group of people who go crashing around the woods together scaring the soul away...from congregations to classrooms we preach and teach and assert and argue, claim and proclaim, admonish, and advise and drive everything original and wild into hiding
Circle of trust - knows how to sit quiety "in the woods" with each other and wait for the soul to show up...not pushy but patient, not confrontational but compassionate, not filled with expectations and demands but with abiding faith in the reality of the inner teacher
Unconditional love - people who help us grow toward true self neither judge us to be deficient nor try to force us to change, but accept us exactly as we surrounds us with a charged force field that is safe enough to take the risks and endure the failures that growth requires, drawn forward by love into our own best possibilities
Relationships - we are freed to hear our own truth, touch what brings us joy, become self-critical about our faults, and take risky steps toward change - knowing that we will be accepted no matter what the outcome
Presence - it is a gift we can give and receive right now, to people all the time
Soul - will show up if we approach each other with no other motive than the desire to welcome it...when we protect and border and salute each other's solitude, we break our manipulative habits and make it safe for the soul to emerge
A HIDDEN WHOLENESS - The Journey Toward An Undivided Life - by Parker Palmer