To me anxiety feels chaotic and out of control. Life is happening around me, and I don’t have ability to slow it down. In this situation, I try to organize the external chaos so my internal environment will start to feel less stressed and more organized. Instead of feeling anxiety and waiting for it to pass, I usually feel an overwhelming urge to run away. I want to give up all of my obligations, commitments, to-do lists and start fresh. It is quite unsettling and my brain tells me that if I can get away, I will be safe. Many times I have wiped the slate clean. It feels comfortable for me to start over and to have some control over my life’s decisions.
While this has been true for many things in my life, I have been devoted to the practice of yoga for over 15 years. It has been the thread that has helped me to cope with anxiety, learn about myself and grow as a person. Practicing yoga has not always been easy. When I started I was obese and physically it was extremely challenging. Over time when the poses became easier I was able to focus more on mindfulness. This is where things started to get mentally more complicated, and I began to face my struggles with anxiety. I began to confront the stories in my mind. While I did not always want to acknowledge these stories, rolling out my mat gave me the opportunity for uninterrupted time to practice quieting the mind chatter. Over the years, the space to practice, reflect, get quiet and listen, gives me the opportunity to separate myself from anxiety. I still often get overwhelmed, want to cancel all of my commitments and start fresh, but with time, practice, patience and support it gets easier.
I am grateful for the opportunity to work with The Ed Lally Foundation. Spreading the message of healing as a community and sharing our struggles is so powerful. So many people share with me that they struggle in silence. Perhaps it is because we come from a generation that did not want to share their darkness because it showed weakness. In my experience being vulnerable and connecting with another person is quite the opposite. Brene Brown says:
“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor - the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant "To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart." Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences -- good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as "ordinary courage.”
Let’s come together to let our hearts lead and our minds follow. Let’s find the courage to heal as a community and support one another. Reaching out and knowing that I am not alone in my struggles, reminds me that I don’t need to listen to anxiety when it tells me to run away. Working with The Ed Lally Foundation to raise awareness about mental health and build a community gives me hope that I don’t need to feel so alone.