Tag Archives: anxiety

Overcoming Chaos – A Free Workshop

At times it feels as though our minds are on auto-pilot and thoughts swirl in chaotic whirlwinds. Meditation can help us calm the storms, centering and connecting us with the present moment.

Deepak Chopra is currently offering a free, four-week workshop called, “Overcoming Chaos” starting in 21 days. In this programme, Dr. Chopra will show you how to reconnect with your essential self, melt away stress and anxiety, and learn how to navigate through the inner chaos of your mind.

Need a little shelter from the inner storms? Try “Overcoming Chaos” with Deepak Chopra!


Honouring Your Emotions – Or Wallowing In Them?

In our meditation classes, Dr John and I have discussed the need to recognize negative emotions when they arise, accept and experience them without “fanning the flames” by re-telling ourselves the stories behind them, and then letting them go.

One of the tricky parts of this, is allowing ourselves to experience the raw emotion without getting bogged down in the story lines. Our chatter to ourselves only serves to re-kindle the pain and prolong our suffering.

martha-beckMartha Beck, PhD, addresses this dilemma, and offers us a solution in her article, “The Key To Healing Emotional Wounds.”

Recently I met a new client (let’s call her Greta) who had been feeling worse and worse—depressed, defeated, devoid of energy and joy. After visiting doctors, therapists, astrologers and psychics, she scheduled me for three days of intensive coaching, proclaiming that I was her last hope. She began by showing me her diary of poetry and illustrations, which seemed to describe every bad thing that had ever happened to her, from childhood bed-wetting to split ends. You could call it Greta’s Little Book of Hurt, except it wasn’t little.

“Why do I still feel so horrible?” Greta sobbed. “I work so hard on myself.” True, she’d worked diligently—but not in any way that would help her feel better. Instead of honoring her emotions and healing, Greta had chosen to wallow in them.

African buffalo {Syncerus caffer} walking, East Africa

African buffalo {Syncerus caffer} walking, East Africa

Everybody does this sometimes, including me. At my yearly retreat in South Africa, I often see my worst self in Cape buffalo, which are like cows, if cows were a gazillion times stronger and appeared to be full of seething rage. When they’re not trampling hunters, Cape buffalo spend their time wallowing in mud, ruminating, and probably dreaming of ways to kill. They’re metaphors for the way I can loll about in emotional negativity, rechewing stories from my own Little Book of Hurt. But wallowing only mires us deeper in the pit of despair.

The reasons we wallow are part nature, part nurture. Like all animals, we’re biologically programmed to focus on injury; doing so helps us stave off threats to our survival. But we humans aren’t usually defending ourselves against hunters, so our painful memories don’t serve the same practical purpose. Humans also have a unique way of recovering from trauma: We need to share our hurts. Fortunately, pretty much everyone now knows that talking to a compassionate, nonjudgmental person can heal emotional wounds. But when our cultural focus on “the talking cure” joins forces with our natural inclination toward negativity, we can get stuck. That’s what had happened to Greta, who didn’t know that repeatedly telling a sorrowful story only lights up your brain’s pathways of suffering, so you’re essentially experiencing the tragedy over and over. At least buffalo wallow in soothing mud and rechew tasty grass. Humans wallow in emotional acid and ruminate on the bitterest moments of our lives.

If you wonder whether you’re honoring your feelings or stewing in them, see if these statements ring true:

  • Your thoughts often drift toward the same story of loss or injustice—and each time, you’re left unhappier.
  • You can feel mildly peevish or gloomy, then brood until your feelings intensify into fury or depression.
  • The agony feels perversely comfortable, like a pair of well-worn sweatpants.
  • Your loved ones glaze over when you talk about your problems.
  • You’re starting to bore yourself.

    Sound familiar? Chances are you’re up to your eyeballs in muck. Luckily, you can pry yourself out. Here’s the key: Change the way your story ends.

    A South African friend says that Cape buffalo look at you as if you owe them money. Emotional wallowers are also obsessed with unpaid debts: Someone has done them wrong, and they deserve reparations. That payback never comes, so the tale of woe isn’t resolved. In his book What Happy People Know, psychologist Dan Baker, PhD, says that joyful people finish their life stories on a very different note: appreciation. Instead of going over and over what they’ve lost, they focus on what they’ve gained. He recalls a woman who reminisced fondly about her deceased husband: “I said something along the lines of what a good man he must have been. ‘No way,’ she said. ‘He was a womanizer and a drunk. A real pain in the butt. But we had more love than most people ever dream of.'” That’s a heroic ending if I’ve ever heard one.

If you’ve suffered deeply and no one knows, by all means, find an accepting, empathetic person to talk to. You’ll feel a wave of pain, followed by ease, lightness, and freedom. After two or three tellings, those emotional waves will begin to subside. That’s the time to walk out of your wallow and see yourself as a hero. Yes, you went broke, but people who loved you stepped up to help. True, you totaled your car—but in the moment you thought you were about to die, you experienced a peace beyond fear that you’ve been able to access ever since.

These aren’t stories of self-pity. They’re epic sagas that end with beauty, courage or wisdom. You don’t have to feel that way immediately, but you’ll get there eventually if you can find a way to honor your own story without sinking beneath it. Alas, Greta’s pain did not abate during the days she spent reading to me from her Little Book of Hurt. You can’t pull a buffalo from the mud; it has to climb out under its own steam. When you can pull yourself out of your own muck, by giving your same old stories happier endings, you’ll find that rage turns to peace, pain to power, fear to courage. Now, that’s something to chew on.



Guided Meditation to soothe anxiety and restlessness

The snow is melting, the breeze is warming and the sun is shining. Spring is gradually on its way!  I love this time of year – soon we will  be able to smell the earth as the frost leaves the ground, and before you know it, the tree frogs will be chirping their night song.

If you are feeling a little anxious or restless, try this guided meditation by the Chopra Center to help soothe and calm your inner spirit. It is geared towards quieting the Vata Dosha (a term in Ayurvedic Medicine for a certain bio-psychological personality) but it works well for anyone who is looking for something to relax and center a restless mind.


Why are we restless and anxious?

Matt Killingsworth

Are our brains “wired” for anxiety and restlessness, rather than happiness and contentment?

Dr. Matt Killingsworth examines this question and comes up with some surprising answers, at a 2012 TED talk, “Want to be happier? Stay in the moment”

Watch this short, thought-provoking video and see if it changes your mind about mind-wandering !