Anxiety and the Slow Energies

October 24, 2010

“It is an old and ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way…”—Rollo May, Love and Will

In 1949 the English poet, W.H. Auden wrote, “Now is the age of anxiety.”  The now of that statement has been echoed through history books, literature, and art; but even more pervasively, and more destructively, that now has endured, embedding itself within the human heart that continues to beat evermore rapidly by the day.

We have created a culture of progress and speed, and the psychological toll has been bad:

“According to Health Canada and Statistics Canada, approximately 8% of adult Canadians will experience a major depression/anxiety at some point in their lives, and around 5% will in a given year.

Depression/anxiety continues to be Canada’s fastest-rising diagnosis. From 1994 to 2004, visits for depression/anxiety made to office-based doctors almost doubled. In 2003, that meant 11.6 million visits to doctors across Canada about depression/anxiety.”[1]

In working with clients who have anxiety, stress and/or depression, I try to bring their awareness to the slow energies that exist in the human body, particularly in the heart.  I also invite them to live less with their fast energies, which usually reside in the brain.

If you find that you are living your life primarily through your brain, your mouth or your throat, you are probably not gaining deep access to the slow energies that reside in your heart.  What would it look like—what would it sound and feel like—to live your life more through your heart?

If you find yourself shouting out anger and frustration through your mouth, or if you find your anxiety pumping itself through your chest, try slowing things down and expressing the same things through your heart—talk through your heart.

There is no right way to talk through your heart, but just give it a go.  Some people do it by talking to themselves silently, others sing through their heart in the shower.  Some people go for a walk and just let the sounds of nature guide them.

Just experiment with trying to talk through your heart—get curious about what can, and what does come through your heart when you slow down and give the slow energies a chance.  Of course, the experience is different for everyone, but I usually find that when people try this exercise, what does come through the heart is most often the “good stuff.”

Just try it—if it doesn’t work for you, keep trying!  The faster your life has been, the harder it will be to open your heart and talk through it again like you did when you were younger, or when you were on holiday, or when you were in love…

I call these energies “slow” not because they are slow-moving, but rather because in order to truly access the healing power of these energies, one has to bring awareness to the importance of slowing down in life.  The slow energies can only be caught when one’s life is slowed down.

To put it metaphorically, a fast drive on the highway might make one feel exhilarated, and it might even draw one’s attention to the power and beauty of the car, but try taking in the sites along the way, or try reading the signs along the highway.

What did that sign say?

I don’t know, it was all a blur to me!

And at the end of that ride, the brain is fried!  The car will have stopped but the brain keeps on going at 140 km/hr.  Where will your body be?  What about your heart?

The body, and especially the heart, will receive overwhelming messages from the brain: “Keep driving!” “Speed up!”  Or worse, “Watch out!”

I invite you to slow down and let the body catch up with the brain.  Take at least one moment every day to talk through your heart.  If it works, keep doing it—make it a daily practice—and while it may not eliminate all of your anxiety, stress and/or depression, it may allow you some spacious moments before having to get back on the highway.

Thank you for reading this…