THE ZEN ONE - Issue #16
Because anxiety rates are still sky high.
Well, hello there - gorgeous readers :)
Welcome back - lovely to have you here, as ever. And if it’s your first time, then you are doubly-welcome. Thank you for jumping on board.
I had no trouble deciding on this issue’s theme. It’s as if we’ve turned the corner from Summer into Autumn and with it so many issues have occurred that it’s enough to make you a nervous wreck just watching the news! And this is all on top of the challenges and issues that we already face in our own personal lives.
Is it any wonder anxiety rates are sky high currently? According to Anxiety UK, 1 in 5 women experience severe anxiety at any one point in time. And with all that’s going on in our lives and the world in general - a deathly disease that won’t be stopped or reduced for long; a UK government who couldn’t seem to care less (don’t get me started!)and severe climate changes that threaten the world’s existence for our children and grandchildren - you are totally vindicated if you are the one woman in five who deals with anxiety, whether severe or not, on a day to day issue.
As I’ve said before a few times in previous editions, I’m not a therapist or psychologist, but I’ve had a lifetime interest in trying to enhance our existence by looking at ways that make life better, naturally. And over the years, I’ve collected quite a library of ideas and articles, that I've tried and trusted.
Allow me to bring the odd idea from my library into the light and share with you, in the hope it brings you a “quantum of solace” (forgive me - ever the James Bond fan). But you know what I mean - that odd thing that you read that resonates with you so strongly, it brings you a modicum of comfort. At least for a short time.
BEING MORE ZEN MONK
This is a new addition to my library. I came across it whilst trawling the net (as I’m wont to do when I’m bored) and, like a lot of Zen Monk things, it really understands what it is to live in society today and speaks such sense.
I obtained it from the Zen Habits website. It’s founder Leo Babauta has devoted his life to trying to live a life along the guidelines issued to Zen Monks. And, quite altruistically, he’s listed the rules Zen Monks live by. There are 12 in total, which is too much to list here, so I’ve included the more relevant for today’s mid-life woman:
Do one thing at a time. Just do one single task at one time - don’t multi-task. Zen proverb: “When walking, walk. When eating, eat.”
Do it slowly and deliberately. You can do one task at a time, but also don’t rush that task. Instead, take your time, and move slowly. It may take practice, but the technique comes quite quickly
Do it completely. Put your mind completely on the task. Don’t move on to the next task until you’re finished.
Put space between things. Related to the “Do less” rule, but it’s a way of managing your schedule so that you always have time to complete each task. Don’t schedule things close together — instead, leave room between things on your schedule.
Designate time for certain things. There are certain times in the day of a Zen monk designated for certain activities. A time for for bathing, a time for work, a time for cleaning, a time for eating. This ensures that those things get done regularly. You can designate time for your own activities, whether that be work or cleaning or exercise or quiet contemplation. If it’s important enough to do regularly, consider designating a time for it.
Think about what is necessary. There is little in a Zen monk’s life that isn’t necessary. He doesn’t have a full wardrobe or a fridge stuffed with food. Monks have the basic of what they need - enough food for the day (or week); enough clothes for a few days; and nothing superfluous. I’m not saying we should all throw everything out we haven’t touched for a couple of months, but anybody who’s had a cull of clothes or belongings will know how liberating that feels. Embrace your inner Marie Kondo :)
Live simply. If something isn’t necessary, you can probably live without it. And so to live simply is to rid your life of as many of the unnecessary and unessential things as you can, to make room for the essential. Now, what is essential will be different to each person. For me, my family, my work, where I live, my exercise routine and being able to access a city (how lame - I know!) are the essentials. There is no law saying what should be essential for you — but you should consider what is most important to your life, and make room for that by eliminating the other less essential things in your life. It’s that Marie Kondo thing ;)
Apologies for this being such a long list, but I hope at least one thing in there sparks your interest, which you can incorporate into your everyday life. If you want to look at the whole 12 rules, you can do so here.
ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING
Back in August, I tripped on this little yogic technique. At the time, I was suffering from menopause enhanced anxiety - not all the time - but for those situations that would ordinarily cause me a bit of manageable anxiety, due to the roller coaster of menopause, the anxiety I felt in those situations went stratospheric. Knowing other than going down the meds route, which I didn't want to do, I needed to find a more natural approach. A trawl on Dr Google took me to Yoga With Adrienne’s channel on You Tube and in particular this technique.
It involves placing your thumb and forefinger over one side of your nose, alternatively, whilst you breathe in and out to a count of around 4 or 5. It can be a bit difficult to master the technique, but Adriene explains it so simply in the video below, you’ll soon have it down. And I love her absolute belief in the benefits of practising the technique.
Fast forward to October, and I’ve been doing this technique once per day since August and have built up to a total of 9 minutes each time. Has it worked? Well, that menopause enhanced anxiety has disappeared. Or at least visits only very occasionally. And, if I’m careful with my caffeine intake (that’s another thing to watch), I get days where I simply sail through the days wondering why I was so stressed earlier in the year! And, very subtlety, my self confidence has increased somewhat too.
If you do decide to give this a go and persevere with it, let me know how you get on :)
THE DOLLOP OF POSITIVITY
And, as usual in every issue, here’s the “Dollop of Positivity” for this issue.
Although the wording is a bit “flowery” (my darling????) I love the sentiment behind this graphic. It acknowledges we are all broken (and after the last 18 months who isn’t a tad broken!) but that doesn’t stop us from striving onwards with our plans and goals. And as the end of the year is coming ever nearer, doesn’t that make it more important
So, there you go and I hope something in this edition has uplifted your spirit a little. If there is and you know an awesome women who might also enjoy the newsletter, then spread the joy a little and let her know. You can do that here:
I wish you health and wellbeing in the difficult times we are facing in the UK (can anyone remember when we didn’t?!) and to stay strong striving forward for your goals and ambitions.
Till a fortnight’s time