The Power of Now: Managing Stress and Anxiety

Posted by Hannah Blair on
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“The mind is a wonderful tool, but a terrible master.”

What if I told you that you have the power to overcome stress? Situational stress and anxiety* seem to be ever present in our lives. In The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle refers to most people as “unconscious.” This means most people are not awake in the moment and instead are ruled by past occurrences and possible future outcomes.  Here are five simple things you can do to access your power of now in your daily life….

 

 “Watch the thinker.” I’m guilty of overthinking to the point of mental breakdown, even though I’m just sitting with my cat on the couch. When we let our thoughts run wild, it can cause turbulence in our lives. This affects how we treat others, what we are able to accomplish in a day, and the outcome of our reality. Often the hardest thing is to realize that most of our thoughts are overthinking a past situation that is, well, past or a future life that won’t ever exist. Next time you feel your inner energy start to leave a peaceful place, whether it’s first thing in the morning, or in the midst of a “crisis”, try this exercise.  Don’t repress your thoughts. Don’t psychoanalyze them. Don’t feed into them. Just let them exist, but don’t identify with them, and then ask yourself are these things actually in my present moment? If they are not, you will notice them pass like clouds in the blue sky of your mind, and it won’t seem so scary anymore.  It’s just you and your cat after all.

 

“Accept, Change, Leave, or Suffer.” When you find yourself in a present moment where there IS a reality you are not ok with, there are four options you have:

    • You can accept it. By accepting, you have chosen to surrender to the present moment. Resistance to what is, will only bring suffering.
    • You can change it. If your present reality is absolutely unacceptable, make the change after you have accepted what happened, and apply those changes so it does not happen again.
    • You can leave it. If there is nothing you can do to change the situation, and you cannot accept it, then the only logical option is to leave, everything else is insanity.
    • Or you can suffer. People chose to suffer only because we have convinced ourselves that it is normal. So next time you find your present moment unacceptable remember: “Accept, Change, Leave, or Suffer.”

     

    Complaining ≠ Therapy. People often feel that getting in a good vent session with their friend or mom often helps them blow off steam. But it is important to be mindful that excessive complaining about a situation can often make us identify with that part of our “life situation” and give it power over us. When we complain about something we solidify its place in our mind, and may create more stress than before. Often situations can be handled much more easily if just taken care of by using the four steps we talked about before. Once handled, we can move on without creating a story or drama around it.  It may feel unnatural at first, but you’ll find the power in just taking the moments in as they happen and not holding onto them.

     

    Letting Go of Time & Your Problems. I’m not implying miss your 2 o’clock business meeting, or any “clock time”, but rather let go of “psychological time”. Psychological time is that which does not exist: regrets of the past and fears of the future. The only time that really ever exists is right now. Often we live our lives as if we are on an adventure trying to “make it” or arrive somewhere or attain something. In doing this we miss out on the miracle of life unfolding right before our eyes. We may experience the now in fleeting moments with nature or big events, but then we spend days or years in-between holding onto moments long past or reaching for things yet to come. Ask yourself if you feel like you’re waiting for something. Are you waiting for a man or woman to give you validity? Money? A Job? An event? Do you think these things will bring you worth or fulfillment? “Salvation only exists in the Now, it does not ever exist in the future. Presence is the key to freedom.” When situations do surface in your now, you will be able to handle them with clarity.

     

    Forgiveness & Laughter. Awakening from being “unconscious” or breaking an obsession with psychological time is not serious business or perfect business. When you catch yourself falling into old patterns of negative thought and life patterns, it is important that you do two things. You must first forgive yourself and then you must laugh. If you find yourself being serious about all this, it’s just your mind trying to make another problem out of the situation. Once we remove ourselves from our drama, it is easy to see how funny it all is. Applying these two concepts to other people will create much more ease in your life as well. We are all humans dealing with the same human conditions.

    You may have noticed these tips echo the same point: Your power is in your now.

     

    *DISCLAIMER: In this article I am in no way implying these tactics are a way to cure MEDICALLY diagnosed anxiety or other mental illnesses. I am talking about situational anxiety, stress, sadness, anger, etc. that we all deal with. If you feel like your situation is out of your control or ability, please talk to someone who has the legal credentials to diagnose and help you. <3

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