Spiritual Practices for Anxious Times

Spiritual Practices for Anxious Times February 3, 2017

drops-of-water-578897_640This morning in the car I heard a conversation between NPR reporter David Green and reality TV producer Tom Forman about the Trump presidency and its similarities to reality TV. Forman talked about how conflict and drama are key drivers of the reality TV paradigm, and Trump is adept at using these techniques to hook us and create an emotional response.

Stress Abounds

I am noticing in myself and those around me an extraordinary level of stress since the election, and particularly since the inauguration. This is coming out in increased conflict with those close to us, in fixating or obsessing over details, in flare ups of depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses.

For many of the people I interact with on a daily basis, this is driven mostly by the disconnect between their values and the policies that Trump has put forward during his first weeks in office. But I would imagine that even for those whose political leanings are closer to Trump than mine, this constant creation of conflict and drama must be having an effect.

In the midst of an environment like this, we need ways to care for ourselves, and to bring us back to our best selves. We need ways to reduce the levels of anxiety and stress, of adrenaline, so that we do not burn out, and so that we can treat those around us with the level of care and presence that we intend.

Practices of Mine

So, what are some practices that might help with this? Here are some of mine.

As many Pagans know intimately, water is restorative on many, many levels. Our bodies need it to survive, and it also supports emotional wellbeing and healing in a spiritual sense as well. There are many ways to receive the blessings of water, starting with drinking enough of it. I have also been taking longer showers than usual lately, as a way of cleansing the energies of anxiety and conflict out of my emotional system and nurturing emotional health.

Another practice I’m doing regularly lately comes from the Temple of Witchcraft, of which I am a member, and my teacher Christopher Penczak. Many traditions have versions of protection shields, or a visualized layer of protection around the outside of one’s personal energy field to stop harmful energy from entering. What I like about the Temple version is that we imagine this shield as a crystal, reflecting harmful energy back out, and when we create it, we ask that the shield reflect love back on the source of the harm. So rather than bouncing harmful energy back as harmful energy, the shield sends it back as love. I have always been a bit hesitant about the concept of protection shields, but lately, I have found myself reaffirming this version quite frequently.

Finally, there is a meditation/visualization I have seen versions of in many Pagan sources that seems appropriate to this moment, which is tree breathing. The idea here is to imagine yourself as a tree, with roots which reach into the earth and branches which reach up to the sky. Then with your breath, you pull the energies of the earth and the sky into your body. Some people suggest alternating breaths, others suggest pulling in both directions at once, so do whatever works for you. Take in the energy of the earth and the sky until you feel balanced and restored. Then release the flow of energy and allow it to pass out of your body – the earth energy into the sky and the sky energy into the earth.

Why it is important

You may have other practices, of course, and there are many kinds of spiritual practice that can help in times of conflict and stress. Perhaps the hardest part is remembering that these practices are important, and giving yourself the time and space to do them as demands for time, energy, and engagement come fast and furious. But we cannot create the world we long for, we cannot be agents of healing for ourselves and others, we cannot even treat our closest friends and family the way we want to if we are too overwhelmed or burned out. So give yourself the time for the practices that restore you for your work and your will.

Blessed be, friends, and take good care of yourselves.

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