The following is a short account of dealing with anxiety. Written during the Covid-19 lockdown to help me, it may also help others. May 2020
Behind this door ...
This deathly virus is not the cause of my dark inner self, but being in ‘lockdown’ seems to make things worse, taunting my darkest feelings. I have lived alone for much more than a decade, so I should be able to adapt to these restrictions, and I thought all was well until a few days ago. It crept up on me, a sense of flatness, that feeling of lost enthusiasm and a lost sense of purpose. Inner-thoughts started to dominate my life, normal life ceased to matter and that calm, peaceful happiness left my spectrum whilst the mundane became the best feeling I could ever achieve. And those inner thoughts absorb me for hour upon hour, even days, when every spare moment will be filled with troublesome dark memories.
I find myself remembering old irrelevant thoughts from the distant past, tired old memories that no longer belong in my life, in my minds-eye, I am re-enacting tired old plays or I run old scratchy black and white videos and none of them are a true representation of past events. My mind has re-shaped a false narrative that imposes total responsibility onto my shoulders, and when you are your own greatest critic, well it all seems to make sense. So I allow those ‘tired old films’ to take a firm grip of my mind and push out normality, whatever that may be, and those negative attachments play their miserable part in a dulling and numbing experience. But I am lucky. Over the years, I have learned to recognise my dark side, I can usually sense the ebbing away of my somewhat limited self-confidence, I lose the small comfort I have come to expect where peace and calmness helps me maintain a sense of usefulness. And when I find myself here, I must call upon the support of my guide who helps me meditate, who leads me in my relaxation techniques, helping me into a meditative state where I can healthily unscramble my troublesome negative attachments, take a more balanced view of these unsettling negative energies and to try to regain enough courage to over-power those demons that clutter my mind. So with the help of Michael, I embark upon a journey.
My meditative journey:
I never feel any sense of failure asking myself for help and I find the process of guided meditation an opportunity for healing, a chance to reset and give myself a stepping-stone to help me back to a more normal place in my mind. It’s not a magic potion, sometimes it takes a while, sometimes several journeys but I have never felt worse after practicing mindfulness. It merely leads me to a state of openness where I can gain a sense of relief, to just confront and accept that this is me and that sometimes I need a little help. Once in my comfortable, relaxing chair I soon find myself under the suggestion of meditation, soothing yet so powerful, all conquering, and soon my demons will be powerless and insignificant, no longer able to dominate my inner thoughts. The awareness of my breathing takes over as I think about my chest slowly rising as I inhale that warm air, such an automatic process but now I can celebrate every inhalation. And then I exhale, another automatic reaction as I close off the influences of the everyday, every breath increases the sense of calm as relaxation overcomes my conscious state commanding my body to relax even deeper. Deeper and deeper. Whilst I remain conscious, I allow myself into a deeper trance, still in control, still able to awake at any moment but preferring to go deeper and deeper as each breath carries away my tensions and concerns, melting away those negative thoughts rendering them powerless.
For me the most wonderful aspect of a journey through trance is I find myself in places of joy, places I love, safe places of beauty, places I yearn for, and yet places I have never been. For they exist only in my mind but I intrinsically know I am safe and in control. And my trance-like surroundings never disappoint me. It is a warm day and I can hear the babbling of a natural spring. I have never been here yet it is familiar, I am no imposter here, this is my place and my time and without distraction, it is just for me, and this is where I belong right now. Before me I see an obvious rocky path, winding along the banks of the small cheerful stream, I take great comfort from the soothing sound as the water cascades over rocks. Along the path, step by step I explore my oasis, I’m not trespassing here, nobody else is here, this is where I belong in the safety of my mind. A sharp turn in the path and the scene opens up, the gentle slopes descend before me, flanked by trees, wild flower meadows with lush grasses, the stream hurries over small waterfalls into deeper crystal-clear pools. I continue along the path, descending steps feeling safer and deeper. I catch a brief view of me ahead, yes me, ahead, further along the path. I am dressed in different clothes, looking most comfortable and with a sheen, a protective glow surrounding me repelling all negative energies, thoughts and feelings. It feels a little strange to be observing myself ahead.
Slowly I continue, conscious of every breath, inhaling this pure air then exhaling, again sensing the rising of my chest and midriff, then my chest calmly falling ready for the next easy breath. As I observe myself ahead, it is me beyond my troubles, beyond my negative attachments, I look confident, I look like I am living the best life I could imagine, calm, safe and satisfied. I imagine me in my future, a future without anxieties, a future without trying to satisfy others, a future where I can be who I want to be, confident, calm and at peace. Looking ahead I imagine how I might feel, how I might look, how I may think and how I would be without the negative baggage that seems to consume me. I try to imagine floating forward to my new self, floating ahead to me, embracing all positive choices, all positive behaviours to enjoy a cheery position without clutter. My conscious mind is urging changes and opportunities to explore my future and help me flourish.
And so in my transcended state, I wish to clear out and cleanse myself through deep healing. Above the sound of the cascades, my voice is asking for answers, I am calling out to myself for answers. Let go! I must let go. From my meditative state I gently whisper “Let Go. Go. Let it all go”. I start grasping and pulling from my heart some fictional old worn strands, filaments of old energy, pulling them from within, screwing the tired old threads into a tangled ball of fibrous residue, ushering away these negative attachments, these negative energies into my palm, ready to cast away. I look down at the residue, just a tiny mass of spent energy, a ragged old lifeless ball of frail fibres, they can’t even retain form, a powerless depleting ball of rubbish. And now it is time to discard this shabby ball of negativity and everything it represents. I take a deep breath, I feel my chest rise remembering my oasis, my safety, my own inner ease. Without effort I discard the waste ball. It’s gone. Gone. I brush my hands to rid any residue of dried up lifeless fibres then compose myself.
The rocky path descends further in the security of a huge rocky wall, trees and foliage form a shaded area as the path enters a tunnel, it’s cooler here and darker but there is enough light to see my way. Ahead, I can see a guiding light at what seems the end of the passageway, I wave my arms to clear any cobwebs from my face and clothes as I move toward the fresher cooler air, toward the glowing light. Brighter light is spilling all around me as I edge toward a large heavy door that fills the tunnel, the door looks old, almost medieval, made of heavy oak planking with rugged iron hinges and a latch in the middle. Shafts of light beams spill over my head, along the sides of the passage engulfing me, a bright vertical line of white light issues from the central join of the two leaves lighting the space before the door. The nearer I get to the door and more is revealed, I look back and see my cast shadow drifting back down the passageway. Just a few steps from the door I can make out intricate carvings from a past age, old marks carefully hewn into the wooden planks, shapes of nature, flowers, leaves, birds and animals, I scan the carvings as my eyes find a message carved in gothic-like script. These carvings are important powerful markings, I can read the script, it spells out ‘Behind this door your freedom awaits’. An orb of glowing brilliance emits from a narrow crack by the door latch, like a ball of positivity. And this is my choice, nobody cajoling me to ‘buck up’ or you’ll be fine, just get on with it’, I confidently reach forward to the heavy latch, it lifts perfectly and the swinging leaf opens, brilliant light floods over me, warm air instantly flows around me as I quietly gasp.
Into my positive world, here I can find freedom, joy, a personal sense of happiness and grace. My cloak of self-protection together with this new confidence is all I need to leave my meditation. I know this isn’t a single fix but I can repeat my meditation over and over again and those negative attachments that I have clung on to for far too long will eventually diminish, giving up their negative energy and I will move on. I also know I can pass through my door as and when I feel it necessary. And one day, I won’t need to ‘Let go’, because it will have gone and I will be free because ‘my freedom awaits’.
Acknowledgement: Guiding me through my meditation is Michael Sealey, of You-Tube. I do not know Michael and he does not know me but he is an endless source of help to me. For that, I am very grateful.