Most people know that my Yoga classes are not fundamentally about the gym, even if we do a lot of gym, but about presence. What presence means can change, can vary, according to our understanding but, simply put, we can say that presence is to be more in contact, to come closer, to both this moment and to ourselves.
Now, there are many things that take us away from presence — from the moment and ourselves — and one of these things is anxiety.
Most people in our time and age live with an enormous amount of anxiety, and this worry, this preoccupation, this anxiety, takes us away from presence.
In order to better deal with this anxiety, I want to give you an exercise. Of course there are many more, but this is one that doesn’t come up so often, and I believe it to be a very powerful one, even if it is truly very simple. I will divide the exercise in two parts: one part is about understanding and the other is about putting that understanding into practice.
The first part of this exercise is understanding that we need to learn to feel comfortable with anxiety.
Because life is 100% — not 99% — but 100% uncertain. There is no certainty in life about anything.
We live in this ‘bubble society’ in which we have somehow created a sense of security, but the reality is that this sense of security is very false. At any second, the bubble can burst and life will show its true face: there is no certainty; no certainty about money, health, relationships, life itself…there is no certainty about anything at all!
Yes, I know, for many people this may sound shocking and not so pleasant to hear, but this is because we are living in this ‘bubble’, and have grown disconnected from this truth.
I truly believe that most of our anxiety is not created because of the uncertainty of life, but because we have become blind to this and expect things to be certain, secure, lasting. And, because deep in our hearts we know that this expectation can never be fulfilled, we are always anxious, worried and afraid expecting the impossible. And so, we keep running after certainty when it will never come, no matter how much we get, what we do or what we become.
There is no way to get away from uncertainty.
And the hope that we create in our minds that one day we will be free from this is what makes us very anxious about the natural anxiety — the truth of uncertainty — that entails living this life.
This is what needs to be understood.
The second part of this exercise — the practical part — is very simple, but needs to be done.
We start by thinking, bringing to mind something that creates anxiety in us.
It can be anything. As an example, for me, one of the big uncertainties with which I have to deal with is about the future of my son.
I mean, I do everything I can to try to offer him, within my possibilities, the best future he can have, but of course, no matter how much I do, no matter how much anybody does, I will never be absolutely certain about his future.
This is just an example. It can be so many other things!
So, the second part of this exercise is to chose one thing that makes you anxious, and stay with it. Not with what you could do to make that situation more secure, but stay only with the reality of its uncertainty; sit with it, embrace it, and don’t try to get away from it.
I sit with it and allow the difficult feeling, for example the uncertainty the future of my son creates in me, to flood my body and mind, but I don’t try to get away from it; I just stay there, connecting to what is, connecting to the truth of life, the truth that independent of what I may or may not do, life is uncertain.
Instead of telling myself things like, ‘all will be good’ or ‘things will turn out fine’, which of course I don’t know and can never know for certain, I stay with the truth, and allow myself to get accustomed to it.
What we can gain by doing this is to teach ourselves to be comfortable with the fact of uncertainty, with the natural anxiety that living in this world generates.
Then of course, from that truth I do whatever I can do to help, to plan and to prepare, no doubt about it, but I am no longer anxious about my anxiety because I don’t reject it or see it as something that should not be. I allow it and embrace it.
I find peace in truth.
This is the exercise.