Welcoming Anxiety As A Path To Acceptance

As many of you know, I have lived with chronic anxiety for most of my life.  I have chosen not to take medication and have continued to search for healing through meditation, tapping, Matrix Reimprinting (an advanced form of EFT) and acupuncture.
For some time I have been free of my familiar morning anxiety, until the past couple of weeks.  Perhaps it’s flared up when I began to have more seasonal hay fever and wake up congested, achy and grumpy.
Who knows …
Two days ago I woke up feeling anxious and found a wonderful video lesson from Pema Chodron on-line (pematonglen.shambala.com).
She was teaching a Buddhist meditation practice called Tonglen.  She describes this as a practice to remain open – it’s also referred to as sending and receiving.
In the past when I’ve heard of this practice, I was not willing to apply this for myself.  It felt too challenging and scary, actually.  This time when I heard Pema suggesting that we can begin this practice with our own challenges, then I felt that I was receiving the lesson at just the right time for me.
This is very real for me.  I did this practice while listening to Pema’s lesson and doing my standing sun salutations.  Breathing in my own anxiety and breathing out well being for myself and all beings.  You may breathe out anything pleasurable to share.
Here are the four stages of Tonglen practice as Pema Chodron teaches:
1.  First, rest your mind briefly, for a moment or two, in a state of openness or stillness. This stage is traditionally called flashing on absolute bodhichitta, or suddenly opening to basic spaciousness and clarity.
2.  Second, work with texture. Breathe in a feeling of hot, dark, and heavy-a sense of claustrophobia-and breathe out a feeling of cool, bright, and light-a sense of freshness. Breathe in completely, through all the pores of your body, and breathe out, radiate out, completely, through all the pores of your body. Do this until it feels synchronized with your in and out-breaths.
3.  Third, work with a personal situation-any painful situation that’s real to you. For instance, if you are feeling inadequate, you breathe that in for yourself and all the others in the same boat, and you send out confidence and adequacy or relief in any form you wish.
4.  Finally, make the taking in and sending out bigger. If you are doing tonglen for someone you love, extend it out to those who are in the same situation as you or your friend.
I encourage you to see how this practice might help you calm your own anxiety and share the ease and well being with others.