Tag Archives: Love and attachment

#22: Love Leaves Tracks!

Early one morning I was on the beach checking out the surf. I happened to look down and actually notice my surroundings. I saw imprinted in the sand, an abstract work of art consisting of many different bird tracks. There was not a single bird on the beach, but so many bird’s footprints. Just by looking at the unique shape of each track, I could tell what species of bird left them behind. This visual stimulated some thoughts about how things other than birds can leave tracks in the “sand” of my life. Even “intangibles” like Love and Anxiety, especially these two.

When I am deeply loved by another human, it leaves a tangible imprint on my heart and in my life. I was on crutches recently and so many friends offered to help me. Even a few kind strangers opened restaurant doors and carried my coffee. Kind and loving acts change us a little bit each and every time we experience one. Love’s imprint, opens our hearts and allow us to feel the deep goodness of this wonderful life we have been granted.

Some of my readers may be having a hard time right now and do not feel love is available to them. But whether you believe the Source of Love is called God, a Higher Power, or even a benign universe, this world is bathed in love. Strangers donating a kidney to save a life, people building homes for hurricane victims they have never met, parents patiently nurturing crying infants night after night, or even parents rescuing their adult children from yet another big mess! Love leaves footprints. Some of these include; an open heart, delight, expansiveness, peace, joy, trust, safety, a sense that life is good. Love is everywhere, though sometimes we miss it because we are not looking for it.

Often we fail to see the tracks of love in our life, because the tracks fear and anxiety leave seem bigger and more relevant. Anxiety leaves tangible tracks in our life as well. These can include: fear, worry, a self protective stance, doubting our decisions, selfishness, and anger. Because anxiety/fear screams at us internally, it is so easy to only notice the anxiety tracks and move into worry or panic mode. Love and peace are much “quieter” sensations and are easy to miss in the daily stress of our lives. And, since the brain is more interested in negative information than positive information, the anxious tracks catch and hold most of our attention. (See previous blogs is this is new information to you.)

There is a simple, but not easy to practice, antidote to living constantly in stress and worry. Choosing to deliberately refocus our primary attention from the tracks and sensations of anxiety. Honing our focus and attention onto the the tracks love has made and is still making, even in stressful situations. (This is an aspect of mindfulness.) Love is more powerful than fear! This week I encourage you to try this practice, deliberately look for love and away from the anxiety. You will have to do it over and over, but the more you do this, the more you will be able to calm down and see the good, even in hard situations. Love does cast out fear, but we need lots of it!

Going deeper:

1.) When you think of the tracks in the sand of your heart, what comes first to your mind? What specific tracks do you experience with both of these “emotions”?
2.) Who are the people in your life that make the most Love tracks? Do they know how grateful you are to them? Who or what makes the strongest anxiety tracks in your life? What might you do to decrease some of these?
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A tool for evicting anxiety

Thus far I have provided quite a bit of academic and anatomy dense material. While most people find knowledge helpful, knowing why you are struggling with anxiety is not the same thing as fighting the anxiety.

Here is a simple exercise that provides a sense of safety and grounding, which  begin the journey of calming down your Amygdala, your brain’s smoke detector and partial cause of that anxious feeling you cannot get away from. In this exercise, we are going to begin to use our imagination for good rather than for worry and bad feelings. Those who think the imagination is not powerful, should bring to mind the last time they were worrying about something. Then, remember how miserable they felt at the time, though nothing was outwardly happening that was unpleasant. The worry itself caused those feelings of fear and dread.

So, for relaxation exercises, position matters. Place your body in the most relaxed posture possible depending on your circumstance. Begin breathing in deeply and fully empty your lungs as you exhale. Each inhale and exhale is one breath cycle. I suggest that you do at least 10 cycles before beginning the following exercise. While breathing, focus your attention only on your breathing and try to stay out of your mind and thoughts for this time period.

Once you are ready to begin, shut your eyes and bring to mind the face of someone who always, or most of the time, looks at you with very kind eyes. It may be a spouse, parent, an old teacher or a coach, but hopefully most people have someone in their lives that looks at them kindly. Once you fix that person’s face in your mind, imagine them looking into your face with their kind eyes continually for about 2-3 minutes. Notice what you are feeling when the exercise begins and how you feel when you are done. Notice what happens in your body when you are being viewed with kindness. Note the changes in relaxation, feelings of safety, and wellbeing.

Practice this exercise several times daily for a week or so and notice how this changes your perceptions and responses to daily life in a more positive and loving direction. If you have any questions about this exercise please let me know in your responses and I will reply.

Happy imagining! The upcoming holiday season, when we all can get a bit overwhelmed and busy is a great time to practice. Stay tuned for my new series on Love & Anxiety coming this week.

two of the kindest people I know!
two of the kindest people I know!