Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Zen and The Art of Anxiety

I have a tendency towards anxiety. In the OCEAN personality test, I score high in neurotic. Yep, I'm a high maintence person who can see the worst in a situation. I can mull over a given situation for hours, days, or even weeks until I have pulled it apart from every angle imaginable.

But I don't just do that to situations. I do that to myself as well. I know you're probably imagining how I hold a self-berating fest for every issue, mistake etc, and yes, I do that sometimes. What is worse however, is the way I deal with stress.

Because I'm such an anxious person, my shoulders are permanently and intricately knotted. I've been working on it, however the only way I've found to release the tension is through consistent massage. Needless to say, health insurance doesn't cover it so I can't get it.

But my stress doesn't stop at my shoulders. If I'm really stressed, I can get heartburn for weeks. I can become so fatigued I can't do anything. I can have trouble eating. I can have dizzy spells. Yes, I do all these things to myself. More than that, I pick. Any imperfection in my skin or hair is something to be rooted out and removed, sometimes with bloody results.

I know that picking at anything doesn't make it better. Inevitably it makes things worse. Still, it used to be that I couldn't stop myself. A bump, a pimple, a scab, a patch of dry skin...even the infrequent mole would drive me to pick. Uneven nails or a dry puckered cuticle was enough.

What made it worse was I didn't recognize it as related to stress. I've always picked at my imperfections. I can't remember a time I didn't. So then how was I able to make the connection now?

It got worse. I moved, have no money, no job, and so it got worse. The results were inflamed and bloody. I finally saw what I was doing to my skin and I wanted to stop. But of course, I can't take the stressors out of my life. I can't change the fact that we just unsettled ourselves again. I can't change the fact that for now,  we're eating a lot of pasta. I can however, change how I react to these things.

I don't want to be anxious or neurotic or what have you. I want to be relaxed - enjoy the cheerful sounds of birds or the warmth from a new dawn. I want to concentrate on what is in the present and not freak out about things I cannot control.

Recently my husband and I have been watching the show Life. The main character has experienced worse things in his life than I have, and struggles to deal with it. He does that through zen. Before I watched the show, I meditated a few times in the zen way. Strangely, the show is getting me interested in more than just zen meditation.

Zen is a philosophy of living. It is something a person can incorporate into every aspect of life. And I want that. I want the peace and light that such a philosophy offers. So, I've stopped picking and started meditating. I'm trying to focus on the beauty of what is. I am working on being fully present. I'm struggling to see how all things pass away - all things change.

Hopefully I see improvements everywhere. I'll keep you posted.

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