Most mornings I try to drag myself into a sitting position to practice mindfulness. I do this because if I delay and say to myself, "Later," I'll never do it. My body craves to stay prone, probably forever. But sitting up and following my breath, I can check my internal weather conditions and if I don't check in, they'll unconsciously influence everything I do in the day. It's like clearing out the attic. Once I'm sitting, the madness begins. The thoughts of why I might be anxious whirl around my brain like a hurricane; fast and furious. They're jumping to make sense of my feelings, to find some explanations like, "I didn't get invited to..." "My so called friend didn't call me back." "I didn't feed the cat." "We're all going to die." There is no priority; just endless rumination to label the feeling of fear and dread. What makes it worth sitting there is that eventually my thoughts settle down and I can start to sense the raw emotion. Once I go below the thoughts I can connect with the raw feelings. The understanding that feelings are just feelings and thoughts are just thoughts and both could be the result of anything. I may never be aware of why, so to try to think my way out is a waste of time and energy because if I focus on exactly where this feeling is in my body it eventually shifts, disperses or transforms. This sense of everything coming and going, is totally liberating and makes the whole ordeal worth doing.
Even though it seems so simple, it's hard because you have to repeat this going from the thought to the feeling over and over again and it's the repetition that builds the strength to go under the words for safety when they're particularly abusive, (they are in my case). Each time I'm aware my mind has snared me, I take the focus back to the feeling; sensing the edges, the size and even the weight. It's incredible how desperate the mind is to come up with a story line. In the end there are no explanations and we'll never be conscious of why we have them. My feelings of discomfort could be a result of having indigestion because I binged on chocolate at midnight or because of a memory or a dream. This morning I probably feel extremely anxious because of my dream last night. But rather than go over and over it with a shrink (sorry Freud) I just try to sit with the feeling because really if this is why I feel the way I do how could it possibly be of any benefit? Here's the dream for your amusement:
I've parked my car in a no parking area. My car has been completely dismantled, only the chassis is left. The guy who tore it apart tells me he'll put it together again if I pay $5,000. I refuse so he takes me to his leader who happens to be a seriously dangerous gang leader. I try to make him laugh (my only weapon) which I do by showing him how I can turn his photos of naked women into key chains. (I know it's not funny or does it make sense). He laughs as I walk away thinking, "Sucker, I got him, I won't have to pay the $5,000." As I'm leaving a group of Vietnamese boy/soldiers march by and one of the lackey's of the leader says I better pay the $5,000 or this will happen to me. He then takes out a lance and makes a small slice into one of the soldier's throat. At first it's just a gash but then his head rolls off and blood spurts out. I start to think maybe I should take this seriously and get the money so I jump into a white stretch limo with no roof and demand the driver take me to every cash point in town. It dawns on me as fear creeps into every cell that my charms didn't work and my whole family will be wiped out. I go from cash point to cash point collecting money and then decide I'll pay him back in avocados. Ok jump cut, I'm working around the clock with Chinese workers wrapping up thousands of avocados. Do you now see why I might have woken up feeling anxious?
I could have carried those sensations around with me all day reacting unconsciously reacting to everything with fear and dread. Instead I figure they're just feelings, it's probably just a result of my dream or even if it isn't let it go. I feel clearer and slightly amused by my nocturnal rantings and get on with the day.