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September 3, 2020

A Grounding Practice to Calm our Anxious Minds.

 

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When you get older and life becomes a little more mundane, grasp onto the little things.

In life’s turbulent moments or when we question what is to come, we need to have gratitude for what is. The moment is all we truly have. Not the one we worry about, which is the future moment that hasn’t yet happened (and may never), and not the moment that passed.

We only have this moment, right here, right now. That’s it.

We spend so much time as human beings in two places: the future and the past. If you are like me, you spend a significant amount of time worrying about what is to come and focusing on what already happened. In my lifetime, I have spent little time in the now—in this moment, in the present.

Because of this, I have been missing these moments and losing time, which is something I am determined not to lose—precious time. There is truly so little of it, and wasting time feels like extreme self-sabotage.

I have started coaching myself on being present. It’s not rocket science; it’s not even painful. It just takes conscious effort and the ability to snap out of whatever state you are drifting off in to get back to the present moment. At any given time, I can literally wander in and out of the past and future, focusing on what happened, what I wish went differently, and how much I long for something that is gone. Worrying about something that could happen and, what if it does, and my fight-or-flight kicks into defense mode to help me cope with the preconceived issue my mind made up.

It’s exhausting.

So, I am taking steps whenever this happens, which is often, to shifting my mindset in the right direction. When my mind starts to wander to the “what-ifs” of life, I say a short but well-known mantra, “Be here now.” I then ground myself with something that I love, something that calms and preoccupies me, which is usually my gardens (oh, how I love my beautiful gardens). When my mind starts going in a million directions, grounding saves me. I am good at this.

I have lived with an anxiety disorder my entire life. I recall that, during childhood, anxiety attacks I would be like this big, red ball that seemed to want to roll over me but never did. The anxiety was about that ball being on the edge of rolling over me but, as a child, I couldn’t explain that. I have worked my entire life to figure out how to “cure” this anxiety. Sadly, I discovered that there really is no way to cure it, but there are wonderful and magical ways to “manage” the anxiety.

One way that has worked for me the past four years is grounding. I have written articles about it; it’s a wonderful technique.

People with anxious minds (whether diagnosed with an actual anxiety “disorder” or not) tend to shift from the past to the future, skipping over the present, and they aren’t even conscious of it. It is difficult for those of us with anxious minds to be in the now. Focusing on here takes work and consistency. If you can imagine, it is like a brain rewiring.

I had a cool therapist during my divorce who worked with me on patterns and how to break them. At first, the notion seemed impossible—I had been doing things the same way for as long as I could remember, and changing my pattern seemed almost ridiculous. However, he used an analogy (which I hope I don’t butcher here) that really resonated with me.

He said, “When you go for a walk in the woods, you take a path that is already established. There is no brush in the way, the path is already worn. Many people have taken this path, and it is safe for you because it is known. You know that there is a better way, a shortcut; however, you would have to make the path yourself. You would have to cut down the brush, walk through prickers, mat down the grass, and, over time, establish this path. It is scary, it might even be painful, and it is unknown as to where this path actually leads, even though you know it’s a better one. Once you travel this path consistently for a period of time, it becomes the right path, and you no longer look back to the other worn, well-traveled one, because it no longer serves you.”

Amazing.

And yes, I carved a new path. It did take about four years, but I did it and it was so worth the struggles.

If you carve a new path for yourself, are determined to change your thinking pattern, and look at the world from a different perspective, it will become second nature. You will start to be more present, grounded, mindful, and your perspective will start to shift to one that focuses on the now and all the opportunities that are ahead of you instead of your rearview mirror.

Start cutting that path, today!

~

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