Anxiety, Trees and Clouds

With lots of resistance to feeling it, I wonder why I would resist the presence of anxiety but not the tree’s presence across the field. Granted, the anxiety is very unpleasant* but it is it really unbearable? Don’t I perceive it just as I perceive the tree? Is it essentially different? It is here and it won’t go away, not now or anytime soon anyway. Can I turn to anxiety just as I would look at a tree? I quickly realize that by focusing in on the pain my resistance grows. I just can’t be with it in this way. It is too much, it is too painful. Forcing to meet it head-on does not help.

This is when I actively begin to notice things I am seeing through the window. They are there too. What if I spread my attention, noticing non-threatening things, going from tree to tree, occasionally weaving in the sensations of pain and anxiety?

Just like this tree is here, this cloud, this chair, anxiety is here. It is just one of the things present. Would I want for the tree to go away? Would I want this cloud to change? That pain is here just like everything else is.

Letting my gaze wander I keep saying out loud: Here is a tree, here is a house, there is a goat, here is anxiety, here is a treetop, there is a cloud, there is a wall, here is this pain, here is a tree, here is a fence, here is resistance, here is the vibration of my voice. The wind blows through the leaved branches of the maple tree. Breath blows through the tightness in my chest.

Image


Autumn over Norway Pond

By and by, anxiety becomes part of the landscape. It is simply what it is, no need to resist it, no need to take it personally. No need to zoom in on it in a vain attempt to blow it out. The ground under me holds it just as it holds me. A sigh of relief, when I feel that support. I don’t have to hold that pain, the earth does.

The pain doesn’t disappear by this recognition but I feel supported and ready for the day.

* Is this accurate use of language? Can anything be inherently unpleasant? The sense of unpleasantness is not in that thing but a response in the perceiver. That’s not inherently bad either and can be very good for survival. However….

4 thoughts on “Anxiety, Trees and Clouds

  1. Oh, Stefan, I can’t tell you how grateful I am (I guess I am telling you and, as I feel the gratitude, how it swells what I might call my heart, maybe you can feel it, too and then I wouldn’t just be telling you but communing with you about this feeling of “mine”) to be in touch with you in this way, in this chance, through your blog post, to benefit from your particular mind’s way of seeing things and talking about them. I realize how much I’ve missed you.

    When you get to this (when you are finally led to it by what is more mindfulness than sensing, but is it?): “The ground under me holds it just as it holds me. A sigh of relief, when I feel that support. I don’t have to hold that pain, the earth does……The pain doesn’t disappear by this recognition but I feel supported and ready for the day.” — is this the bailiwick of Sensing as a practice, to honor with awareness such truths as gravity offers?

    I’m thinking you’re going to say I’m trying too hard to contain something in mind, in hopes that that will somehow save me. From what?

    • Hello again, Sara,

      I AM finally let to this. It took a while, gee. Mindfulness or sensing? Let’s say, it’s gratitude and a sense of response-ability, to play with that word like Charlotte Selver did.

      Interesting, that you juxtapose mindfulness and sensing in this way. I would claim that there is not ‘mindfulness’ without ‘sensing’. Mind is not something detached from the senses but the senses are mind – the mind is sensing.

      I wasn’t going to say that you’re trying too hard to contain something in mind, in hopes that that will somehow save you. But you did. From what?

      I was going to say: relax!

      I miss you too!

      Love,

      Stefan

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