It started as something small, I was watching a film and found myself tearing up at one or two of the scenes. I’d seen the movie before and never had this reaction but didn’t think anything of it. Then later I was out taking my daily dose of exercise, walking my small dog and just over the bridge, on the shallowest of inclines I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. I was breathing but just not getting enough air into my lungs.
Now, I’ve had anxiety attacks before and not being able to breathe properly is usually one of the symptoms. But what is there to be anxious about? I’m not worried about anything, am I? Or am I?
I turned my attention inwards and sure enough there’s a big buzzing ball of energy sitting in my chest. I know the training, don’t judge, just allow it to be, and so I backed off and gave the feeling some extra space. You are most welcome to be here. Might sound like a strange thought with a bundle of anxiety but by responding with kindness rather than reacting with aversion you immediately change the tone of the experience.
There’s an unspoken question – what are you, how did you arise? I waited some more.
Then a connection forms: I’ve experienced the loss of family members in the past. I don’t want to lose any more.
A response arises: you’re going to lose everyone.
I don’t want others I care about to suffer the same losses I have.
A response arises: they’re going to lose everyone.
Such simple truths. They sit starkly in my consciousness. Simple wisdom, untouchable as jewels, undeniable as the rain. The anxiety is all of the fear that’s been building up over the possibility of losing more of my family or my close friends and colleagues losing theirs.
But this life is all about change, isn’t it? There’s nothing we can hold onto and keep. Time will separate us from all that is beloved, precious and pleasing. Should we despair then? No, we simply take the time in this moment to enjoy what we have; to appreciate the heck out of it; to receive it as the gift it is but all the time knowing that these things will be parted from us when the time is right, and we generally don’t know what that time will be.
So, this is uncertain. But then it’s always been uncertain, always will be. That’s the way it is. It isn’t bad or good, it just is.
I take another breath. The big ball of energy is still there but I’m still not averse to it. Like an iceberg, it’ll melt eventually and the breath will come easily again. Till then, I notice I can hear birds singing in the trees. The clouds are scudding across the sky and my small dog is busy investigating a patch of grass. It all makes me smile. It’s all okay.