We are all on intimate terms with anxiety. We all know what it’s like to be caught in its claw. It’s pretty miserable. And given that our entire future is a giant blank screen upon which we can concoct endless agonizing storylines that destroy our peace of mind and contribute nothing of benefit, we might as well be prepared for anxiety’s next visit, whether it be prompted by a biopsy, a pink slip, a weather report or an unexpected phonecall.
The more anxious we become, the more we are inclined to ruminate. And the more we ruminate, the more anxious we become. How do we break out of this self-perpetuating cycle? What do we grab onto to pull ourselves out of the spin? One powerful strategy is to activate our senses. What . . . you don’t think your eyes and ears are a real match for the depth and breadth of your anxiety? Think again.
If we cultivate the habit of tuning in to the real-life-that-is-happening-this-very-moment show, and doing so with fierce attention and focus, we will defuse our anxiety, moment by moment, inch by inch. Rather than trying to do battle with anxiety head-on, we will, through our wholehearted connection with the world, nudge it out the back door. And as we redirect our attention from our anxiety to the cup of tea before us, or the sound of our feet on the pavement, or the feel of the book we are holding, we will develop new habits of attention that will serve us in countless ways.
But developing new habits is not easy and it doesn’t happen overnight — it takes commitment, focus and practice. Every April, the ToDo Institute conducts a distance learning program entitled, Working with your Attention, that provides a powerful practice opportunity for doing just this. The daily exercises in this program enable you to study, in a personal way, the relationship between attention and feelings, and to cultivate new habits of attention in your day to day life. These are empowering tools and practices that make us less vulnerable to the ups and downs of feelings, moods and circumstance. And they help us to enjoy and even savor our lives. Right now. Register Today for Working with your Attention, which begins on April 7th, 2015.
Linda Anderson Krech, LICSW, is Program Director of the ToDo Institute and has been a frequent contributor to Thirty Thousand Days. She is the author of Little Dreams: A Practical Guide to Spiritual Parenting and has been teaching Japanese Psychology for over 25 years.