Warriors and Worriers was an interesting month to embark upon. It was the first time I'd used a mindset as a focus point across the month, and I didn't want it to get lost with the excitement of all the Warrior poses, so I chose to break worrying down week by week, much like we break down the physical poses across the month long focus.
We start with the basics and the groundwork and we build from there, and this is exactly what we have done with Worry.
In week one we considered the origin of worrying. Why do we as humans worry so much?
The basic principle is that we evolved to predict danger as a way to help us survive. Seems simple enough, "can a tiger easily walk into my cave?" "If I light a fire there is it going to burn everything in sight? If I behave this way is my tribe going to abandon/kill me?
And I'm sure there were many other, seriously scary and worrying things to consider in the time of this human development.
No however, our worries are very different, we don't need to worry about tigers, finding food or being killed by our own tribes quite so much. We have basic living down, we, for the most part, are able to put food on our tables, sleep in a warm comfortable bed, we have people in our lives we trust and care for and we usually have a wifi connection. Yet worry is at an all time high, with many of us struggling with anxiety every single day.
If we accept, based on the reason worrying evolved, that worry is a form of 'looking forward' then we can embrace the idea that being present may be a calmer place to be.
Which was our next step in our 'Worriers' journey. We practice our mindfulness at the end of almost every physical practice and usually at the beginning too. We take a few breaths just to bring our mind to our mat, to our body and to our breath. By doing so we bring our attention to the present moment, our mind is briefly held in a place of calm, and escapes the unending chitter chatter of the mind that is often on a repeat, relentlessly in our own heads.
So to escape the worry, we know there is power in being present. By practicing our mindfulness we develop the ability to notice when our mind has run away with us, not just on the mat, but in day to day life.
In week 2 we started to discuss looking forward and how worry sits in the future, in the what if's the fake scenarios, the conversations, events and catastrophes that haven't happened yet. And I should add, usually don't happen.
When was the last time you worried incessantly about something, then when the time came it was exactly as you imagined it? Hardly ever! We assume the worst from every situation, and by doing so ruin our own day.
Imagine a day clear of worry. Imagine a mind that didn't fixate on the negative things that might happen. It would be a wonderful thing.
In week 3 we then considered worrying about things we can't control.
This is a common one in the world of worrying, and we can often get completely absorbed in thinking about things that we have no control over. A very common one is other people's behaviour. We cannot, ever, control another person's behaviour. Therefore worrying about how someone might behave, respond, act, what time they might show up, what they might say is utterly pointless. By bringing the focus (not worry) back onto yourself you can be sure to listen fully, respond with kindness and compassion and truth. This way you will be the best version of you, rather than concerning yourself with what the other person might do.
An example, I discussed just this weekend, was worrying about what time my partner might come home form a night out.
Well... what does it matter? He's out with his friends. The best thing I can do is live my own life, do what I want to do and when I want to do it with no consideration for what he might be up to or when he might be home... I cannot, and will never be able to control that.
This means I had a great evening! Went to bed and slept like a log. Whereas the flip side would worrying about where he was, what he's up to, and getting cross with every hour that passes and he's still not home. I not only ruin my own night, but the odds our I'd ruin both our mornings when I wake up cross and take my pointless worrying out on him.
Week 4, we finish the month by considering looking back.
Looking back is a weird kind of worry, often we get wrapped up in replaying events and reliving uncomfortable emotions. All this does is makes us worry in the present moment, and for what?
We cannot change what has happened, we cannot change how we, or anyone else behaved, therefore dwelling on it, worrying about it and how the event makes us appear within society is utterly pointless.
Often when we reply things in our head it is because we are concerned about how others view us; "did I sound stupid?" "Do they hate me now?" "Should I have said that?" " What if they don't get back to me?". It's the ego running away with what other people might think. And as I said above, it is impossible to control the behaviours of others.
The only time I would say it is good to look back at a scenario that perhaps didn't play out the way you'd hoped or planned, is to learn from it. What could you perhaps do going forward to make something more comfortable for you. You cannot control the behaviours of others, therefore listen fully, act with kindness and compassion and speak your truths, that way you are unlikely to come away from something filled with worry and dread.
Love and light
Alex Howarth, owner of GAIN Mobility, Fitness, Astanga, Hatha and Vinyasa teacher. Lover of meditation and writing. Even if I can't spell.