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Lions Roar : July 2018
ADVICE FOR DIFFICULT TIMES Worried About Worrying SUSAN PIVER on working with a mind that can’t stop working over every detail. Question: I am a constant worrier. I replay every event, stress about any little mistake I make, and often fear I haven’t done a good enough job, even when I have done my very best. How do I work on this? Answer: Anxiety is so tricky. The nature of this trickiness is revealed by two words in your question: work on. “Working on” anx- iety is akin to “trying to” relax. They just don’t go together. The key is to find ways to work with anxiety. And this means—and I know it is difficult— practicing relaxation. There are a variety of ways you can do this, from standard practices of relaxation (taking a walk, going to the movies, getting away from it all) to some- thing more radical—allowing yourself to relax with the anxiety by allowing yourself to feel it. I know that doesn’t sound like fun. It isn’t. But when you try to bargain or beat your way out of such situations, they only become more deeply entrenched. It’s a trap. Instead, you could sit down and invite the anxiety into the room. That means the feeling of the anxiety, not the story behind it. This difference is critical. The feeling is usually located in your body. Maybe your shoulders feel hunched, your tummy hurts, or your forehead tightens. Wherever it is for you, allow your atten- tion to rest on it. When the story tries to hijack the situ- ation (I am so messed up, if only I hadn’t said this, done that, I’ll never be success- ful/happy/proud/funny/smart), it is very important to let that go. Return to the felt sense of the worry. Feel the texture. Get to know it. In this way, you establish some agency within the situation rather than falling victim to it. Spend a minute or two (or longer if you like) extending the hand of friend- ship to your inner worrier rather than always trying to fight them off. Good luck! You can do it! ♦ ©KELLYKNOX/STOCKSYUNITED SUSAN PIVER is a meditation instructor and author whose forthcoming book is called The Four Noble Truths of Love: Buddhist Wisdom for Modern Relationships. Send your question to email@example.com NUNS IN THE HIMALAYAS The Pema Chödrön Foundation’s support helps ensure that nuns in Nepal, Bhutan and India have the same equal opportunities for deep practice and study as monks have always had. AT rISk popULATIoNS Pema is committed to supporting organizations that work to protect and nurture at-risk populations, particularly women and youth who are in challenging circumstances. THE Book INITIATIVE Pema’s books and recorded teachings are offered to underserved individuals and the organizations that support them, around the world, free of charge. THE BUDDHIST MoNASTIC TrADITIoN Pema is dedicated to help guide and support her home monastery, Gampo Abbey, as well as monastic settings in Asia and the West. OUR ONLINE BOOKSTORE: You can purchase Pema’s books, CDs and DVDs along with her archived teachings at our online bookstore. Free Shipping in the USA. THE pEMA CHöDröN FoUNDATIoN SUpporTS: pEMACHoDroNFoUNDATIoN.org LION’S ROAR | JULY 2018 21 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE