I spent most of 2017 reflecting on my own path with anxiety and writing and then reflecting some more. I've been doing a lot of reading and exploring around the patterns that I found cropping up. Because a handful of things showed up and just kept showing up and, well, most of the time you can only see and appreciate even the most obvious of patterns with some perspective and distance.
These elements don't go out and reinvent the wheel, ha, I'll tell you that upfront. The books that I read 20+ years ago and the books that I read now and the experiences that I have personally had all basically boil down to stuff that great thinkers from across the ages have been sharing forever. Because here's the deal: even though the daily details of how we move about the world look very different from person to person, we are all connected by the experiences of what it's like to be a human being, living and breathing, in relationships with other people, raising kids and working jobs, and taking care of our homes and our dogs and our cars and our family and our neighbors and our communities and our place in this whole big ride called life.
But we're not here to be wildly original. That's not the necessary part. We're here, doing this work, and getting serious about transforming anxiety in a way that feels good. And the truth is, it's helpful to put all of these elements into one place, even if we think we know these things and even if we've tried a couple of them, and even if we already have a deep and consistent practice with one or two of them. So much the better. Let's start creating the whole.
The Merriam-Webster definition of holistic is: relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts. I tried for years to treat the emotion of anxiety as only and simply a feeling. I recognized the symptoms and sensations of anxiety and considered anxiety to be a problem and I was focused on fixing that problem...which for a long time meant trying to fix the symptoms and sensations of anxiety.
But I see now: anxiety is not a problem. Thinking anxiety is a problem is a problem. Recognizing the symptoms and sensations of anxiety is a good thing; it shows that my body can communicate with me and I know how to listen to my body. And mostly: transforming anxiety is not going to happen in a vacuum. There is no amount of band-aiding symptoms or resisting emotions or even just focusing on this one specific thing, anxiety, that will magically make it all better.
Transforming anxiety holistically is the key to this whole thing. Which means we have to consider the complete system of ourselves, instead of analyzing and treating this part or that part and hoping for the changes we are looking for in our lives.
Think about all of the moving pieces that go into the whole of you: the food you eat, what you drink, how much you do (or don't) move your body, the relationships you have, what you read or watch on TV, what you react to and what you're proactive about, how you spend your time and energy, the quality of your sleep... You are the sum of these parts, and more, and these parts need your attention and your intention.
We cannot put junk food in, deprive ourselves of deep rest, stress out at work, surround ourselves with people who do not raise us to the highest versions of ourselves, and simultaneously expect to, somehow, live a life of ease, freedom, peace, and joy. Garbage in, discomfort out.
Look around. Check out your daily practices and habits. Start small. Think of one tiny or quick or cheap or easy thing that you can start incorporating into your life. On the daily. Close your eyes and imagine doing that one small, tiny, quick, cheap, or easy thing for days and weeks and months. Does that naturally crowd out anything that you'd be happy to let go of? Does that, potentially, crowd out something that doesn't fill you up, bring you light, or make you the very best YOU that you are? Play around with this, try a few different things. You may find unexpected goodies in unexpected places. Let me know how it goes...
You've maybe noticed that the blog has been a little quieter than usual. That's because I'm working on a big project, a few different programs really, for you. They have everything to do with a holistic approach to transforming anxiety. I'll keep you updated as I get closer to a release date, but I thought this quick overview and summary would be a good way to usher in the new year, to let you know what I'm working on, and to give you some things to try out in your own life.
Also, I'm going to be posting little, bite-sized nuggets to Instagram under a new handle: @fiercecalm. Fierce Calm is where this is all heading...towards living fiercely calm. Fierce, because we can't accidentally change our lives and this is going to take love, commitment, work, and intention. Calm because: CALM. So follow along with me there. Share your thoughts and experiences. I'll keep writing and keep working - I'm very excited about the shape this program is taking and can't wait to bring this work to you. In the meantime, I'll write to you here and would love to stay connected on Instagram.