The Security of Ground Hogs

Ahhhh, Ground Hog Day – the time of year when we look to a small round, burrowed creature in hopes of the encouragement of an early Spring. Nope. Not this year, and frankly, here in the Bold North another six weeks of Winter is usually quite secure, shadow or not.

Security doesn’t happen often, although we think it does. We make lots of plans to be secure: physically, financially, spiritually, emotionally. Anxiety can accompany these goals; if you doubt this, check out the local bookstore’s self-help section. “Will my children turn out ok? Am I a good parent? What will happen to my insurance/health care/health? Is there enough money? Will my family have a good future? Will I have a good death? And what about the world?” Sometimes anxiety exceeds our ability to manage it (we could call that ‘stress’) and we end up running away from ourselves. And we run from our hard emotions toward whatever can distract us from our anxiety. We run because we are anxious and sometimes downright scared.

When we suffer in this way, Pema Chodron suggests the following:

1) Accept where you are, even the hard emotions. Don’t run.

2) Get out of the situation, go for a walk, give yourself space.

3) Take time to be alone with the emotion. Notice your thoughts and come back to the present.

Breathing-in-deeply reconnects the breath and the body; it brings us to the present. A breathe brings our mind home from its attempt to escape the anxious future or regret filled past. A simple deep breath connects us to the here, the now.  We don’t know the future, we can’t change the past: the present moment is what we truly have. As another wise sage says,  “Be here, now.”

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