11 Ways of Dealing with Anxiety:
2. Feel into this body

Here is the second instalment of 11 Ways of Dealing with Anxiety, an ongoing experiment in being alive.

Feel into this body: which is another way of saying “come home to yourself”.

14:30 I am sitting in the dentist’s waiting room. I need a couple of fillings repaired. I am not as anxious about this as I once was, nevertheless my heart is pounding, and my solar plexus and stomach areas are tingling with adrenaline in anticipation of injections and drilling, of not being able to swallow properly, of having to calm myself and breathe through my nose.

I sit up straight and try to practice what I preach. I breathe tenderly into this body and let the breath lead me down into myself. I feel my feet on the ground. I relax my pelvic floor and sit solidly on the chair, feeling like one of those toys with a weighted bottom that will swing from side to side but never fall down no matter how hard you push it.

My insides are still in turmoil, but it is not my whole reality. I am now present and for a few moments I have forgotten the impending procedure. It would not be pushing it too far to say that I am enjoying being alive and feel at home in myself. And I think, “How can I carry this presence into the dentist’s chair…?”

The thoughts that attend and give rise to anxiety take you, in your imagination, into the future where God and you are not. You are not in the future and God is only to be encountered in the present, so future thinking is a kind of loss of trust in the self-and-God that is only to be found here/now. Ignatius calls this desolation. Coming home to this body brings you back to the present, the only place where God-and-self is to be found, and invites you to trust (consolation) in this evanescent instant.

Coming home to this body, gathering thought scattered to the winds of the future or the past, naturally opens out into connection. You are yourself. You feel the chair, the air. You notice the beings around you. You and the moment are alive.

Next in the series: 3. Meeting With Stillness.

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