How can we control our anxiety when it gets the best of us? I thought I had found an answer that worked for me, and I went back to it many, many times until I couldn’t. I used to book a flight, take a train, chase the sun, the sunset and the waves and I would instantly feel better. I would plan an escape: find a new job, move cities. It all worked well when I was living as a nomad, when it didn’t matter if I was bartending in Sydney or in a town six hours south, or when I was younger and could make many mistakes without rendering to anyone. But those days, for now at least, are over. I have responsibilities. I do not have a disposable income that I can count on in case I want to randomly change my reality. I have a path to take to completion, I have a job to look for, all of which needs to happen now, and here, and I cannot escape from it.
A friend of mine texted me while I was writing, told me she is in Patagonia now, traveling Argentina. My friend and I met in Brazil when we both were exchange students back in 2015. She always had a kind spirit, a free soul. She is, in fact, the one person that introduced me to meditation and yoga, her mother being an instructor. Even though my own mother had practiced for a long time, I had never gone with her to a class.
It had to take Marie to sit down on the shore of Maceió to teach me to slow down my breath and focus on the waves of the ocean, trying to get my heart beat as peacefully as them. Once we meditated under a waterfall and that has been one of the first moments I have felt connected to the Universe.
So now as I try and get back to that mindset, I find myself challenged. If I turn on the news, I am overwhelmed: Europe is the closest it has ever been in the past fifty years to being in a war; we are currently entering the third year of living in the pandemic; job assurance has never been lower for young people in Italy; the cost of living and of electricity has been increased by 50%. When I look ahead at the perspectives, I sometimes cannot find one. And this scares me.
I sit down on my yoga mat, in the middle of my living room. It’s five pm, the sun is about to go down as it’s winter in Northern Italy. I lit up some incense and some candles. I follow a yoga practice online; it’s hard to stretch. My limbs do not move as gracefully as the lady in the video – for, in my mind, she is too calm therefore she has lost all humanity – and the child resting pose makes breathing harder. My legs hurt. I breathe in deeper. I am sticking this through. As I try to be as still as a tree, I fall on my left side. I get up again, put my hands in prayer, breathe out. I come to the end of the practice and I am relieved, but thankful too, because moving my body consciously and mindfully has helped my anxiety calm down. As I come up from the savasana, and thank myself and the Internet, I play a new-age meditation. I sit down again on the mat, close my eyes, and focus on the golden light that is supposed to come inside my body when I breathe in. My back aches as I sit for over ten minutes. My mind begins to wander. But I, again, stick it through.
And I realize that I can stick it out through life as well. That I may not be able to control everything that is going on in the world, and that’s okay. That I might fall sometimes and lose the grip I try so hard to hold on to; and that’s okay too. That I can change what is within my reach if it doesn’t appeal to me anymore. That sometimes all it takes to feel empowered is waking up earlier in the morning and feeling like the day is longer and more productive, and that productivity also means sitting down for a few minutes to meditate or move my body a little.
And then the war started and I got Covid. I spent the first two nights of the sickness waking up from nightmares and pain in my bones. Was the country exploding? Was my body? I couldn’t go back to sleep. And I couldn’t do my yoga, I couldn’t be spiritual when I was that tired. I just was. I existed on the sofa, waiting for the days to end, scrolling my Instagram watching pictures and news of bombings, shelters, refugees. The last thing I needed for my body to heal was for my mind to be overwhelmed with disgraces. It takes a month to make a habit, they say. After two days of fatigue, I went back to the mat. I took a deep breath, and I disconnected my phone. I am not in control of what goes on in the world at all times. I am only in control of what goes on inside my body and mind, and sometimes taking care of that is a hard enough job. I cannot flee the country, I cannot move somewhere else and start from scratch. But I can touch my toes when bending forwards and that’s good enough for now.
The world will not be changed by me perfecting that downward facing dog, or when my groin doesn’t hurt anymore when I am in child’s pose. I can only help with a clear mind, if I act when my mind is not fogged by worry and anxiety.
Compared to the Universe, I am nothing. Compared to the oceans, to the forests, to the desert, I am nothing. And that’s beautiful.
About the author:
I am a lesbian intersectional feminist who loves to read books and write thoughts down;
I mostly travel around in search of new adventures and cultures to learn from!