It's interesting how we settle into new norms. Feeling reasonably happy and peaceful became the new baseline the last few years. For a second there, I forgot what acute anxiety was like. Until recently, when my eighteen year old son was injured in a car accident. He's on the mend now, but the night that it happened, I had one of the most profound shocks of my life. I've been through a lot, and I've seen some pretty crazy medical things, especially with my late-husband's two-year battle with leukemia. Nothing is worse than seeing your child injured. That hits a deep primal chord. The image of my son with blood all over his face and the broken glass strewn all over the street at the scene of the accident disturbed my equilibrium in a way I could not have expected.
For a good couple of weeks post-accident, my mind took me for a ride on the crazy train. The strong manifestations of anxiety that had faded from my memory came back in full force. The jittery feeling in the stomach and the sweaty palms. The constant worry. The sleeplessness. The irrational thoughts about the safety of loved ones. The inconsolable crying. Anxiety attacked.
This time around, my resources were in place. I quickly reached out to some dear friends, trusted teachers and skilled practitioners and received strong and generous support. I came back to my practices. I wrote long gratitude lists. I doubled up on my meditation and went out of my way to do good deeds for other people. I put my heart even more fully into teaching. I listened to dharma talks. Now, three weeks later, my mind is on the mend too.
Here's the bottom line. We need to practice when times are good in order to prepare us for when the shit hits the fan. Because you can count on the fact that the shit will always hit the fan again.... so don't get too comfortable. One of my favorite dharma teachers says that we are either in the middle of a disaster or in between disasters. There is no other state of being. I came into my practice years ago in the middle of a major disaster. It's a perfect place to start and helps you to more fully enjoy the lulls in between the downs in life.
I know many of you are experiencing the symptoms of depression and anxiety right now. I believe it is especially widespread due to current events and the political atmosphere in our country. The first step is recognizing your mind is on the crazy train. The next step is learning or refining practices that can help you develop a relationship to your own mind and a better understanding of the present moment. The irrational thoughts begin to shrink, as soon as we shine the light of awareness upon them.
If you are ready to take steps towards re-training your mind I have some offerings coming up.