A trade magazine for the mindful retailer
 

Overcoming Anxiety

BE FEARLESSLY PRESENT CENTERED AND ANXIETY WILL FLEE

These days are tough for retailers. Our stores remain closed or open without the normal foot traffic we’re used to receiving. Our products, that we spent money purchasing, languish on our shelves while we slowly run out of capital. Not only are we struggling to pay our invoices, but we may also have trouble paying our mortgages, rents, and even our employees. And our employees, even if we are able to pay them, may have little to do. We are suffering professionally and personally. We worry about getting sick, taking care of our families while likely juggling work with caretaking, worry about paying our personal bills while slowly going broke, and worry about our government and society as well as the state of the world. We are constantly feeling alarmed, disgusted, angry or deeply frustrated by what we see on social media, read in the news or hear on TV. On top of that, we may be feeling lonely or bored without our normal social interactions. We may be grieving the loss of friends, family, or life as we knew it. To say that this is a lot for most of us to handle emotionally is an understatement.

For many of us, underlying feelings of anxiety now form the bedrock of our everyday experience. Not only does anxiety fail to help us solve our problems, but it can also hurt us in far deeper ways because prolonged anxiety affects our body as well as our mind and emotions. When we’re anxious, at the least, we are likely to feel extremely nervous, which then stimulates the fight or flight response. Because we can neither fight nor flee, our symptoms will likely worsen until we may feel actual panic. Feeling such deep and prolonged anxiety, we may be unable to concentrate and become restless and irritable. Our appetite changes so that we either overeat or stop eating entirely. Our mind races as in a constant state of with one thought after another and can’t shut it off so we feel constantly fatigued as the constant worry drains our body and mind. Our sleep patterns may change so that either we can’t sleep, or we can’t get enough of it. We may physically suffer with stomachaches and headaches, muscle tension, and sweating, shaking. Our breathing is likely to be shallow and fast so that we don’t get the oxygen that we need to stay healthy. In the extreme, we may become extremely depressed, and have panic attacks, develop high blood pressure, heart disease or even diabetes. As we confuse real facts with those we imagine, we may react inappropriately or be unable to react at all. In that way, if we are unable to decrease our anxiety, then it can actually become a worse enemy than the actual crisis itself.

Since we are probably unable to change the circumstances that are causing us to feel anxious, we have to alter the way we are responding to our circumstances. The best way to combat anxiety is to have our attention entirely centered in the present because we can only feel anxious when we are imagining what may happen in the future. The more we can center our attention in the present moment, then, the less anxiety we are likely to feel. In fact, when our attention is entirely focused on the present, our anxiety will completely disappear.

When we are centered in the present moment, we start becoming aware of an inner reality within us that is unchanging in its steady calmness and clarity. Centered on this unchanging awareness within us, no matter how horrible our circumstances, we will be able to feel a deep sense of inner peace. From this space of inner peace, we will be able to make good decisions, do what we can do, change what we can change, and not worry about the rest.

The following meditation will help us relax, release our fear and other negative feelings and center ourselves in the present moment. Centered in the present, our anxiety will lessen or go away entirely.

 Sit upright with your spine straight, feet flat on the ground, and face forward. Place your hands in Hansi Mudra, the hand position that stimulates acceptance helps, to access courage, and combats anxiety and fear. To do this, touch the tips of your index, middle, and ring fingers to the tip of your thumb. Extend your pinky finger to the sky. Do this with both hands. If you can hold the position, extend your elbows outward with your forearms and little fingers extending upward. If not, rest your hands on your lap next to your stomach. Close your eyes.

Now, bring your attention to your breathing and feel it flowing in and out of your nose. With long, deep breaths, completely empty and fill your lungs without straining. With every in-breath, imagine that you begin to fill with energy and vitality. With your out-breath, imagine that any tension flows down from your body and out from the bottoms of your spine into the earth. Continue this for three minutes or until you feel relaxed and energized.

 Next, take another long, deep, gentle breath and on the out-breath let go of any thoughts and imagine that they too flow into the earth from the bottom of your spine. Do this for three minutes. If you become aware of any associated physical sensations or feelings, drop your attention from them and bring it back to your breathing.

As you continue to breath with long, deep, gentle breaths, bring your attention to your feelings. With your in-breath, feel as if you are gathering a sense of peace to flow into your heart chakra. With every out-breath, release any other feelings into the earth. Do this for three minutes.

Still breathing with long, deep, breaths, imagine yourself as surrounded by clear, light turquoise blue sky.Focus all of your attention to this vision of the endless, clear blue sky that extends outward from you as far as you can see. See and feel yourself within this gentle, serene, turquoise sky as you allow your body to further relax, releasing any tension.

In your mind’s eye, notice that you’re actually floating as a bird within this endless, turquoise sky. Imagine that you are perfectly buoyant and lighter than clouds, gently floating within the endless expanse of clear, turquoise blue sky. With every breath, let yourself feel more buoyant and free, released from all that binds you.

Imagine, now, that you look down within this endless and gentle sky to see a soft, white cloth bag. As you continue to look at it, you realize that you are to open this white bag, so you do so.

After opening the bag, recall a fearful, anxious thought or feeling that you have, and imagine that you now place it inside the white, cloth bag. As you do this, the thought or feeling leaves you completely. Now, find another anxious or fearful thought or feeling and imagine placing it into the bag. If you cannot find a thought, just imagine one that you might have and place it into the white bag. With each thought or feeling that you place into the bag, imagine that you feel lighter and more peaceful.

Continue to place any anxious or fearful thoughts and feelings into the soft, white, accepting bag until you have no more to put into it. When you are finished, imagine that you send healing energy into the bag so that the negative thoughts can be transformed. Then imagine that you close and tie the top of the bag so that no thoughts or feelings can escape.

Now, as you finish closing and tying the white bag, imagine that you release the bag and it begins to float upward into the turquoise sky. Imagine this white bag floating higher and higher into the sky and as it does, you feel more and more peaceful. Imagine that as the white bag floats higher and higher into the sky it eventually looks like a little white speck. As you continue to look, the white speck is so far away that you can no longer see it.

Once it has entirely disappeared, again imagine the turquoise blue sky around you in your mind’s eye. As you continue to breathe with long, deep, breaths, imagine yourself as floating freely within this endless sky. Imagine that your body is light as a feather. Continue to imagine yourself surrounded by the endless, turquoise sky, light as a feather, for three minutes. If you mind wanders, bring it back to the vision of the endless, blue sky.

Bring your attention back to your breath. Imagine that you draw this soft, gentle, peaceful blue sky into you with every in-breath so that it fills your entire body. Once your body is filled with the light of the clear, blue, sky, imagine that you slowly and gently float downward back towards the earth until you become aware of your body and the chair or surface beneath you.

Filled with peace, shift your attention entirely to the chair or floor beneath you. Feel the earth beneath your feet. With your in-breath, continue to fill yourself with the peace of this meditation. Relax with every out-breath, feeling the floor beneath your feet and the seat of the chair beneath you. When you feel ready, open your eyes to your surrounding environment. See if you can retain this feeling of inner peace as you go about your day.

Whenever you have any worries, fears, or any other negative thoughts or feelings, close your eyes for a few moments and imagine that you place them into your white bag which then floats up into the heavens until you see it no more. Once your white bag disappears, let your negative thoughts and feelings be entirely released.

After this meditation, it would be helpful to carry or wear a turquoise, celestite, blue calcite or other light blue stone to remind us of the sense of enduring inner peace that we found during this meditation. Any time that we start feeling anxious, worried, or afraid, this light blue stone can remind us to not only let negative thoughts and feelings release but also shift our perspective back into the present moment. As we do that, we can choose to not allow fear and anxiety to form the basis of any decisions that we make or control our lives. Finally, it will help us to chant this mantra: “Om Dum Durgaya Namaha:” Loosely translated, this means; “Salutations to the one (the Goddess Durgo,) who bestows compassion, fearlessness, and patience.” Along with this powerful mantra, we can also repeat this affirmation: ‘I am fearless.”

 

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Uma Silbey was one of the first to pioneer crystals, gemstones, and ‘energy’ information to the world through her jewelry designs, books, and music. Besides running her jewelry company since the late ‘70s, Uma has authored six books, including her latest The Ultimate Guide to Crystals and Stones, available through New Leaf Distributing Co. She has also recorded 18 albums of meditation music and guided visualization, and twice has been considered for a Grammy nomination, including her latest Altered States. Visit www.umasilbey.com for blogs, articles, music, and newsletters.