Happy almost Spring, dear ones,
It seems like I've been waiting forever to walk in a world of green again here in the Great North. The longing is great to feel the warmth of the sun on my face, to savor the smell of April rain upon the earth, and to rest my eyes on color.
For the most part, I've been a patient patient. Following the sage advice of many Eastern teachers, I've done my best to "be here now" as my body heals up from injury and surgery. When life is showing up differently than we'd hoped (or planned), what are our choices really? We can be upset. This only makes us feel worse physically and mentally. We can resist the situation, which only creates more pain (emotional pain), proving the maxim, "What we resist persists."
Live in the Present Moment
"The Present Moment" is this month's Living Gently theme. It's what I come back to again and again to save me from myself—when I'm struggling with anything! As you may recall from previous writings, I seem to have inherited worry genes from my dad's side of the family and anxiety from my mom's. I was a nervous child and as an adult developed full blown anxiety in response to life as it was.
I know many of you have struggled with anxiety or worry over the years too. In fact, I don't know anyone who hasn't. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America cites: "Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year."
Current modes of Clinical Behavioral Therapy (CBT) often teach patients to come back to their breath to create inner calm when in the throes of anxiety. I love knowing this because it validates what spiritual masters have taught us for centuries: the breath is our friend and our fortress. Conscious breathing can stabilize feelings of overwhelm so we can function more fully in the present moment. This is the healing path I discovered organically for myself (without CBT) years ago. It is the path I stick to whenever life proves difficult once again.
3 Part Harmony
The months of April and May this year are proving to be two of the busiest periods I've experienced in recent years. From April 15 to mid-May, in fact, I will be on the road. During this span, I'll only be home for 3 days. 3 days! Just thinking about this can trigger anxious thoughts and feelings for me. Thank god I have a practice I can grab hold of when this starts to happen. I call it "3 part harmony." Here's how it works:
Body Connection: Get grounded. Feel yourself fully in your body, feet on the ground, body held and supported by the earth. Connect with your breath. Rest attention in the abdomen, feeling the sensation of "being breathed." Let go, rest into that.
Mind Connection: Create stabilizing self-talk. Use a mantra, a phrase, that focuses your attention. Say it to yourself slowly, pairing with your breathing. Rest into the meaning of the words. "Be here now." "All is well." "I AM."
Use a gatha by Thich That Hanh:
"Breathing in I know that I am breathing in.
Breathing out I know that I am breathing out.”
He says, "We do not need to control our breath. Feel the breath as it actually is. It may be long or short, deep or shallow. With our awareness it will naturally become slower and deeper. Conscious breathing is the key to uniting body and mind and bringing the energy of mindfulness into each moment of our life."
Bring yourself back to the divine. Remember that you are never distanced from It. Ask for help if you need it. Align yourself with thoughts and feelings of love or beauty and feel yourself let go into something greater than yourself.
Ah, relief! Welcome home.
I hope my practice of 3-Part Harmony will help you feel more grounded this April so you can fully enjoy the present moment wherever you are.
Suggested Reading for the Month of April
A lovely spiritual companion gifted me with this wonderful book. I think it's perfect for revitalizing ourselves this spring. I am enjoying Thay's guidance once again through grounding thoughts and simple body movements to be where I am and fully enjoy the present moment.
"With each breath, we can notice we are breathing in. With each out-breath, we can notice we are breathing out. When we breathe like this, our body and our mind come together. And when our body and mind are together, we are capable of living it more fully. We are able to enjoy what is going on in and around us each moment."
In Coming Home to Ourselves: Read Chapter 5, "Enrich Your Spirit"
In Your Truest Self: Read Chapter 2: "I Trust My Body's Divine Connection"
My April Gift to You
For those of you who might REALLY struggle with anxiety, I created a self-guided audio seminar a few years ago called, "7 Spiritual Secrets for Transforming Anxiety." I'd like you to have it. It includes a 60 min. audio presentation, small workbook, and a Guided Meditation. I hope you will find it helpful!
Download it here: https://goo.gl/mZ9Jjy
For the month of April, you might want to view these videos on my Vimeo channel.
You might also enjoy watching this (20 min.)
Oprah Winfrey talks with Thich That Hanh
April's Guided Meditation ~
The Year of Living Gently
Take a breath, and drop into a kinder, gentler place within yourself.