Anxiety & Playmates
Each week I connect with coworkers, friends and family mostly virtually but sometimes in-person and the one thread through all these connections continues to be anxiety. Sometimes we cannot even identify the source. Sometimes we feel that we are rushing along in a river current. Sometimes it’s a sneaker wave that surprises and tries to drown us. Sometimes we see our anxiety building over a long distance and still we cannot mount our defenses or acceptance strategies in time. It's important to give yourself, and each other space and support to feel anxious. Space to share and let others share, or not. Space to be with community, or not. Support with words or hugs, or not. Support with playtime, or not, or yes, absolutely!
The “or not'' part of these ideas is more important than you may think. We often mean well by trying to decipher our own and others stressors but sometimes that is not the correct path to support. We are digging for information but digging can turn into a selfish mindset and we often confuse it with helping. Digging is often gossip about oneself or others and in yoga calls to mind one of the Yamas -- Satya. Satya, traditionally defined as truthfulness, urges us to communicate honestly in word and deed. Avoiding dishonesty, exaggeration or deception - of these, gossip and exaggeration often go hand-in-hand and may be the most difficult. We may have a lot less to say if we follow this principle since a lot of our support is communications based on suppositions.
I have a friend who loves to play and I love to be with them because of the play. We spend time not deep in anxiety and our soul, although deep dives in meditation and sister circles is of great importance and support, but in living the present moment and making plans up as we go along. There is an immense joy to live life this way especially when it’s not inherent to my nature -- I’m a planner. The smiles and laughter that carry us along in our unplanned adventures are of enormous support and do an incredible amount to ease anxiety if only for a brief time. These moments of light buoy us up, create memories and support our journeys giving us relief, and create joyful hearts from which to draw strength as we encounter and address our anxiety. From our joyful hearts and our silent speech we can become conscious of Satya to become better listeners and supports for ourselves, our coworkers, friends and family. We can practice the art of living a life unplanned and unknown.
I've been out and about these past few weeks living a life a little less planned and a little more unknown. I’ve been practicing my yoga in hotel rooms, cottages, and childhood bedrooms. It can be hard to practice when you’re on the road, and being on the road can cause anxiety. Your routine changes, your environment changes, your inner clock changes. These experiences are teaching moments in identifying and addressing moments of anxiety. They teach me to practice kindness and flexibility in both my mindset, physical practice and interactions with others. They teach me to be grateful for loving family and friends, for supportive communities, and for the ability to really be myself. They teach me that as much as I think I know someone there is always more I can learn. They teach me that kindness is a practice and it should not be surprising when given or received but sometimes is.
Living a life unplanned and unknown can be anxious but it can also open many doors to play and opportunities to practice Satya. I encourage you to be open to anxiety so you can learn not to dwell in that flood but to move through it. Communicate honestly in word and deed, learn when to be silent support for yourself and others, giving your ear but not your voice. Find a trusted playmate and embark on a joyful, unplanned adventure.