Lightening the Load
There may be days when you feel weighed down with worries and anxieties.
These can be crippling psychologically, and our posture can even become affected. We as if feel the weight of the world is on our shoulders.
The things that we worry about are very individual to us. There might be concerns about work, children, elderly parents, or others who are dependent on us, time constraints, or the quality of our performance. Some of us worry about the environment, politics and social problems.
Often, we worry about what others think of us. We ruminate about things that have happened in the past and whether we did the right thing. We worry about things that might happen in the future, picturing the worst-case scenario in order to prepare for it. Will things work out the way we want them to?
Worry and rumination generates fear. When we are fearful, our stress hormone levels rise. Persistently high levels of cortisol and adrenaline lead to gastrointestinal symptoms, headaches, poor sleep and impaired memory and cognition. When in this state, we are less effective in everything that we do. This risks us making mistakes which we will then, later ruminate over perpetuating the cycle of worry and fear.
When we spend time thinking about the past and future, we are not present.
Worrying about things that we have no control over at all uses up vast amounts of energy. When we are worrying and ruminating, we quickly feel overwhelmed. We hesitate and lose trust in ourselves and our abilities. We procrastinate.
We cannot change the past and we cannot control the future. The only place we have real power is in the present moment.
Would it not then, be better to focus our energy here?
The fact is that the choices we make now, will impact the future. By staying present, we have an opportunity to invest our energy in looking for solutions to the problems that are worrying us. If we stay present and avoid projecting ourselves into the past or future, we can circumvent the worry/fear cycle and become more constructive.
Imagine how effective we could be if we were not weighed down by worry.
Freeing ourselves from worries and anxiety is a choice. We can do it. We can choose what to think. Some people don’t believe that this is possible, but we can prove it!
When someone asks us to do something that we are not interested in. The thought of it goes in one ear and out the other. It is easily dismissed.
Only when a thought carries emotional weight do we give it our attention and make it bigger.
We can, however, choose to dismiss those thoughts too. The more we do this, the easier it becomes.
There are different ways to help you do this. The article ‘How to Reframe Fearful Thoughts’ is one. Examining and evaluating your thoughts with a thought diary is also a good idea.
The practice of positive affirmations can help us to ‘reframe the core beliefs’ that influence our world view and therefore our thoughts.
Mindfulness practices are essential to keep us in the present moment. Focusing our energies on the ‘now’ and putting into play, positive actions to manifest our ideal future.
This week we share a mediation designed to help you lighten your load, letting go of anxieties and worries that you have been holding onto.
Begin by bringing your attention to your breathing.
Take your awareness to the tidal ‘in and out’ of your breath
As you do this, begin to slow and deepen those breaths
Taking the air right down into the bottoms of your lungs
And now as you deepen and slow
Become aware of the feeling of calm stillness that settles over you
Now as you breathe deeply and slowly
Just begin to allow the out breath to become just a little bit longer that the in breath
Deeply and slowly
Imagine you are walking up a slope
It is the cool pre-dawn morning
There is a hint of sunrise at the horizon
A hazy pink glow that signifies the hope of a new day
The path is smooth and clear
but the going is hard
And you can feel the strain in your muscles
Your breathing quickens and comes harder and faster
The slope gradually rises towards the dawn
You keep going determined in your progress
You then realise that the pocket of the coat you are wearing is full of stones
You can feel the weight of them dragging you down
An awareness comes to you that this why your journey feels so arduous
So you pull out one of the stones
It is covered in neat writing
You read it aloud
It perfectly describes a recent worry that you have had on your mind
You know what the worry is
It is totally recognisable
You now have a choice
Do you put the stone back in your pocket and let it impede your progress?
Or do you let the stone go, allowing it to roll down the hill?
The decision is difficult
Is there anything you can do about this particular worry right now?
If not then let the stone drop
As you do this, you will feel a lightening of your load
Now choose another stone
What does this one say?
Again, decide whether there is action needed right now
Or whether you can let it go
You may have one or two stones
You may have a pocketful
Take the time to evaluate all the worries that you carry
Revel in this opportunity to let them go
One by one
Each time you drop a stone you feel your load lessen
When you are ready
You can begin to walk again
Now you can pick up your pace
Discarding stones as you go
As your load lightens you can go faster and faster
Until you feel as though you are almost flying
Right up to the top of the hill
And as the last stone rolls away from you
You crest the hill
Bursting into a glorious sunrise
The new sun warms your skin
You feel light and free
At the very top you stop and drink in the view
The whole world spread out below
Without your worries weighing you down you feel amazing
Stay in this space enjoying this feeling for as long as you need to
When you are ready
You can start to walk down the other side of the hill
Into the future that you have chosen
Free of past worries and concerns
You can pick your way slowly down the hill
Or run as fast as you can
Exhilarated by the experience
The choice is yours
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