Finding Peace in Panic

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Last year brought a lot of changes into my life that sent me into survival mode. Somehow I intuitively knew that to find peace in all the upheaval, I would need to spend a lot of time getting my head in the right place, and readjusting my mindset from fear to faith. So I did the work to get there. And then I got a little lazy, because things were going so well. (We've all been there, right!?)

This year the fear started to creep back in as a result of my lack of diligent soul upkeep, but instead of judging myself and going deeper into the hole of depression and scarcity, I remembered what I tell others all the time: do the work. We've got to do the work, or we get blindsided. We get complacent, we think it's all good, we go through the motions; and then we get hit with a big dose of fear and wonder where that came from. It's quite a natural cycle. But we each have tools that work for us, and we all, deep down, know what we need to do when the lows hit.

I've been pulling out my own trusty tools this summer: spending time outdoors, running off (literally) the adrenaline, finding gratitude for the beauty around me, meditating, seeking community, and reading uplifting literature. But I also turned to some not-so-trusty tools like panicking, trying lots of different ideas for "fixing" the situation without really stopping to understand the real issue. Do you ever find yourself there? Panicking, and then swimming frantically in circles to fix what you haven't taken the time to understand? It's ok; turns out you're not alone! Your yoga teacher does the same thing when she's not fully present!

This morning's meditation session brought it all home for me succinctly. In Meditations from the Mat, Rolf Gates writes,

In our fear we believe that we must make things happen; in our practice we learn to let things happen...I am reminded that I do not want to be the doer. I want to be the channel, I want to be the witness, I want to be grateful. I do not want to be the doer. That's God's job...When I let go, my whole life becomes a work of art."

Isn't that beautiful? There's a lot of truth packed in there. When we operate from fear, we may be tempted to make things happen: I need to do X, Y, Z, and then it will be all right! I can put it back together! But living in fear keeps us from seeing the bigger picture. My exercise in A Course in Miracles yesterday was quite timely: "I do not perceive my best interests." When I'm living in a fearful mindset, I have no space to see what's really going on. I'm operating blindly, flailing my energy first in one direction and then in the opposing direction, going nowhere. I have no idea what I need to do to be purposeful and intentional. 

And that is the tricky part, for all I need to do is let go. I need to realize that I'm not in control of outcomes. I am required to live my life one duty at a time, as the Bhagavad Gita says, and leave the outcome to God. There is no need to expend energy flailing about as though I were God. That is, quite frankly, stupid. I cannot see what God sees. I cannot do what God does. I am simply the channel for God to do His work through me. 

When you stop struggling, you float.

There is peace in panic when we realize we're not in control, when we stop struggling to make things happen. It seems counter-intuitive at first, but the more we practice floating, the more we understand it, and the more abundance we experience. I, for one, am going to keep practicing. It doesn't mean I do nothing; it means I start from a place of peace instead of fear, so that my intentions have a safe place to live out their purpose. It may look like I'm floating, doing nothing, but without the peaceful start, there's nothing there but fear, panic, and swimming in circles. My life is meant for more than that, and so is yours. 

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