Over the past few months I have had a range of experiences with anxiety. My first awareness was pain in my upper chest. I can remember having some of these feelings before but this time the pains would stay there all day. I noticed my breathing was shallow, my pulse raced and my head would get thick and heavy. I have always been an extrovert and loved the sense of achievement when making sales. But now I had to stop putting myself out there, slow down and look after myself. I stopped working so hard and avoided the situations, people and places that made these symptoms worst.
My next experience took place on 7 day silence retreat at Te Moata Retreat on the Coromandel Peninsula in January of his year. On my second night there I found myself waking constantly all through the night. It felt as though I have just drifted off when I would suddenly be awake again. I also noticed that when I was meditating that I would take a sudden gulping intake of breath. This scared me as I could no longer rely on my breath as my anchor for mediation. And then I realised this was also what was waking me up constantly during my sleep. My breathing had got so shallow that I was waking myself, from sleep and mediation, to catch my breath.
With my doctors help I have adjusted my medications to help lift me out of the depression as well as relieve the anxiety symptoms. At the same time I do my best by meditating most days for 20-30 minutes, eat well, stay rested, swim regularly and work part-time. I had been going along quite nicely for several months.
But suddenly last week I had the most unpleasant sensations. My ribs, both front and back, crunched up into an extremely tight and painful spasm. I was breathless and sore. All I could do to relieve the pain was lie on the floor and practise my relaxation breathing. Worst of all I was extremely disappointed to have had this set back.
However it was my wonderful massage therapist who put a fresh perspective on these events. She suggested I welcome the anxiety. As she says, it is my body sending me very direct messages and that my body is not wrong! I simply need to listen to it.
I’ve reflected on this idea and had the realisation that in fact my anxiety can be a fast lane to my new future. From now on I will observe and embraced the anxiety signals when they come on, and then remind myself to reflect of my resistance to making change. In short, my anxiety symptoms are a blessing. It’s up to me to use them to create the changes I need.