Acknowledge Fear

When we act out of fear, we pull back from life. We may say something we don't mean, or do something we regret. We may stop acting altogether, and retreat to inaction. With our fears out in the open, illuminated from the darkness, we can plainly see them, decipher their webs, and understand why they created homes in our minds. It is only when we acknowledge our fears that we can advance in the directions of truth, authenticity, and wholeness. - Everthrive

The Potential of a Dream

Dreams most likely have no meaning. Their eerie combination of archetypal images and visions can be so incredible, and so moving, that when we wake up, we strain to recall them, and we cling their hidden lessons.

There is one thing we should learn from our dreams. Their purpose can be found in the luminous moment when we are both asleep and awake, when we cannot differentiate between fantasy and reality. It is in this moment that our dreams add to our creative faculties. Subconsciously, we take these luminary moments with us and harness them to our waking lives, producing spontaneity, fantasy, and inspiration.

When we blend the infinite possibilities of our dreams with our rational abilities, inanimate objects can be liberated, art can be born, and our souls can be set free.

"The trick is to combine your waking rational abilities with the infinite possibilities of your dreams. Because, if you can do that, you can do anything."

- Waking Life (2001)

Breathe

Give yourself permission to breathe. 

Has anyone ever told you just to slow down and take a breath? How did it make you feel? Depending on your outlook, maybe you reacted with confusion or frustration. You breathe all day, you would be dead if you weren't breathing, why is this person telling me to breathe? That's dumb.

Or, maybe you paused and really thought about the advice. 

Sure, I breathe. But, I'm rarely aware of how I’m breathing, since my awareness is acutely focused on other things. Like everyone else, I'm sometimes anxious. I often stress about work tasks, my “to do” lists, and infinite personal and family obligations. Provoked by the constraints of an average workday, I often stress about my productivity. I'm always tormented by the lure of technology and the seemingly urgent notifications of my iPhone. 

All this builds up and creates anxiety.

Research shows that anxiety can restrict our breathing, leading to us to take quicker, shallow breaths, resulting in limited oxygen absorption and a spike in blood pressure. Cortisol levels increase, leading to restricted circulation and decrease immunity.

In searching for quick fixes, I've found that meditative practices such as yoga can lower anxiety levels. I've belonged to at least three yoga studious in the last 10 years. Each time I tried yoga, I was initially open to it. But, mid-pose, instead of breathing, I began stressing about when I should breathe, or not breathe. When should I breathe in? What should I do while I'm breathing? Am I even doing this pose correctly? 

My mentality towards yoga as a cure for anxiety has never really worked for me. I was forcing myself to breathe and measuring my effectiveness against others in the mirror. I needed to change my mindset.

I needed to grant myself permission to breathe.

Henrick Edburg, in his article "The Power of Breathing," suggests taking two minutes away from the anxiety-inducing situation to focus on breath. I've found that two minutes is more than enough to find space when my world closes in. Anytime I encounter stress, or feel overwhelmed, I simply take one large breath in, and out. I do this alone, or in the midst of a work presentation or a lively gathering – no one can tell. I do this when I’m cooking, writing, or when I find myself stuck in an endless social media loop.

Now, I practice conscious breathing. 

Taking one deep breath helps us to consciously pause, reflect, and refocus our perceptions, removing us from the source of anxiety. After taking one breath, whatever was bothersome becomes a little less annoying, and definitely more approachable. We never have anything to lose by just taking one conscious, full breath.

There's so much to gain by granting ourselves permission to breathe. 

Pause

If you allow yourself to pause, you might feel love from an unexpected place. 

Most days begin in a rush, and end in a sigh of relief. What follows is a listing of an average day: At dawn, wake up, take out the dog, eat breakfast, get dressed, pack work stuff and self into vehicle. Then, weave in and out of the early morning rush to arrive at a destination where many hectic hours are logged, some things are accomplished but more “to dos” are discovered and logged for future days that aren’t hectic. Again, pack self back into vehicle, do the reverse commute, and end up home where the dog needs to go out, dinner needs to be created, eaten, and digested, lunch for the next day needs packing, laundry needs folding, and then there might be some time to connect with loved ones and read a few pages of that lonely book on the nightstand.

In a day's monotony, it is easy to lose yourself. Your actions - robotic, urgent, and repetitive - can limit your ability to feel present, human, and connected. One simple way to access your sense of self, and unique point of view, would be to press pause. 

In the middle of any task, try taking yourself out of it. Pause and focus on one aspect of that moment, and think closely. Consider it. This could be the whir of air circulating from your desk fan, or it could be the intricate lacing of ice on the windowpane. This tiny act of observation can allow for creativity to creep in, stimulating your imagination, and bringing your unique perception back to the surface. This helps you reconnect with your surroundings, and may kindle a sort of partnership with your environment. If you allow yourself, you might be inspired by some poetic aspect of your surroundings. On a particularly challenging day, you might just be reassured by the subtle affection of a common red standpipe valve.

-Everthrive

Click here for related content: Maria Shriver's USC address "The Power of the Pause"