I walked into a bar full of young students with my stomach in knots. They were lounging in small groups, talking, laughing and being friends and I did not know a single one of them. All I could think was-
“How do I do this? Can I do this? What am I supposed to do here?
Do I go up to a group, hang around and act like I fit in? Should I be honest, walk up and tell them I am new here, have no friends, can I join your group? Should I look sexy?”
It was my first evening away from home. My father had dropped me and my belongings off at Earnshaw Hall, where I was to spend my first year at University, and waved goodbye. All during the summer holidays and until the moment he left, I had projected confidence and acted like I knew what I was doing, but I didn’t.
I had never been away from home. I felt out of place and scared that I would make the wrong move. I was like a little, lost kid in an 18-year-old’s body trying to act as if I were experienced in the ways of the world.
I felt so much pressure and panic in my mind and body. I remember thinking: “Navjit, do something. You’re sticking out like a sore thumb. Everyone here is going to know you are a fake. Nobody wants to be your friend.”
I quickly ordered a drink, but I didn’t know whether to stand at the bar or sit. I walked towards some sofas but changed my mind mid-step, deciding that the people sitting there would think it strange that a girl they did not know was now sitting next to them. UGH.
That, my friends, is a perfect example of social anxiety at play: self-conscious, hyper alert to any sign that you are being watched, judged, looked down upon. Not knowing what to say or do, the simple act of meeting new people can make you feel like you are going to die.
Oh man! Just thinking about that evening makes me sad and nauseous. Why is it that we don’t teach social intelligence classes to our young? Why don’t we have conversations about social mores, values and how to be ourselves when around others?
I could have done with classes like that. Classes on how not to feel like an outsider. Classes on being myself and upholding my own values. Discussions around how to interact with others in meaningful ways and not fall into one-upmanship battles.
How wonderful would it be to be able to engage with others in groups large and small, strangers or familiars and feel free to speak without judgement or negativity from others? To be encouraged and supported to develop your ideas and your place in the community?
In the memory above, if I were to ask the 18-year-old Navjit what would have helped her in that experience, I think she would say: “It would have helped to be reminded that I am full inside and not empty. That I am important to me and to value myself. It’s ok to not know anyone or everything. You don’t have to be afraid of these people. Probably, they are just as anxious as you. You can go over and say hello.”
Anxiety can be paralysing, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We can ask ourselves a simple question: what would help? If we know beforehand that certain situations make us anxious, we can ask that question: “What will help me to feel safe and present?” Then follow through by creating what you need.
These days I have gotten really good at voicing out the fear when I feel anxious about social situations or being around people in general. I say things like: “I am feeling anxious about the birthday party or I am anxious about not being able to help a client. I feel lots of expectation to be perfect, or I feel like I am going to fail.” I speak out my anxieties without judgment or embarrassment.
Then I remind myself. “You are full of love and you like being full of love. Feel that love filling you up now. You trust yourself and now is the time to be filled with that self-trust. You are here to be you. So be you.” Often times, I gently tap my chest with my fingertips to bring myself out of the mental nature of anxiety and into the stability of the physical body.
And just like that, I return to myself. I feel safe and calm. My body relaxes and an easy breath returns. I find that I can then walk among others uncluttered and with love and understanding in my heart.
Did you find this piece useful? Please share it with family and friends because you never know who may find it helpful with their struggles with anxiety. If anxiety is sabotaging your life then please think about having a chat with me.
I had a really beautiful breakthrough recently.
I was having a hard time falling asleep. Although I had gone to bed around 11pm, it was now well past 2am. I had allowed myself to think about schedules, dreams, relationship issues, health issues and even thought about some of the cable shows I love to watch. But sleep was still being elusive.
It dawned on me that I was becoming more and more agitated as the night wore on. My whole body was restless. If my body could say “UGH” it would have.
I was fully immersed in the experience of not being able to fall asleep.
But then in a flash of insight and surrender, I thought, “Why am I forcing myself to lie here when my body and mind clearly don’t want to? Let me listen.” As I listened, the first thing my body wanted to do was the cobra pose, a back stretching yoga pose. I did it 3 times, right there in bed. It helped to release some of the agitation. Then I did the child’s pose, draping my chest over my folded legs and resting my forehead on the bed. It seemed to restore a sense of cohesiveness within me.
I continued to watch and listen to my body and thoughts. I saw that my mind had become crystal clear and was in deep repose. I was amazed.
My mind, now unshackled from the force of my will to go to sleep, was absolutely still and as beautiful as a full moon on a clear night. I loved being in that energy.
I sat up and allowed myself to be present to the profound realization that I didn’t have to sleep because it was night time. I didn’t have to be worried about getting enough sleep or that I would be exhausted the following day. Instead, I could choose to be awake. Not just in the sleep sense, but in terms of consciousness.
Being awake that night in that way has opened a door within my being. I saw that even though I live my life according to my own rules, (I am an entrepreneur after all!) there are still pockets of my life where the old programming creeps in.
Looking back at my life, it is pretty easy to spot the origins of the programming. It went something like this from the start of the day: “Wake up, you have to get ready for school.” To ringing bells at the beginning and end of each class, recess and lunch times. To the final refrain of the day from parents, “Time to go to sleep”
Very rarely did any of those rhythms fit in with my rhythms. What happens to our own inner clocks? Our knowing of the right time for us to eat, rest, play or sleep?
Let’s be honest here, time is a precious commodity. Wouldn’t you rather use it in a way that makes you feel connected, happy and fulfilled? Isn’t it yours to use?
For quite some time I have been working on reestablishing my relationship with time and the freedoms it creates. Some days it feels like I am swimming against the current of collective timekeeping that I’ve internalized over almost five decades eg it’s midday, time to eat. It’s nighttime, it’s time to sleep.
And on other days, it feels like I am edging further and further away from society’s ideas of what I should do with my time. I allow myself to feel the freedom a full 24 hours can offer when not brimming with schedules and obligations of when to eat, work, sleep.
I am consciously breaking apart an outdated code, not just when it comes to time but also when it comes to conversations about success, goals, love, living and dying. I feel like I am in this grand experiment that posits the idea that once I am in tune with my own internal clock, feelings, and wisdom, I will experience more of the beauty of this life.
I have made a promising start and I continue to experience a tranquility and clarity that I am going to say stems from being in-sync with myself, staying true to my values and timelines.
This week, if you find yourself unable to sleep or restless, take a moment to listen to what your inner clock is saying and what you are yearning for most in that moment. Then give it to yourself.
Have you broken out of some habitual way of you seeing yourself or life recently? What changes did you make? Are there pockets of your life that feel out of synch with you? What does your own rhythm/clock feel like?
Please share your story and insights with us in the comments below. If you would like to have an eye opening, code breaking conversation with me, click here to set up a time. In the meantime, enjoy your days, nights, hours, minutes, they belong to you and are your precious resource.
This is an uncertain time to become an American considering the current political climate. After watching the news just yesterday, of senseless mass shootings, ongoing wars abroad and the hostile, intolerant rhetoric coming from presidential candidates (I am speaking about you Mr. Trump), I get why some folks talk about leaving America.
Days before, as I prepared for the swearing oath ceremony to become a naturalized citizen of the United States, I wondered, what does it mean for me to become an American? What principals can I live by that are American through and through?
As I pondered these questions, I opened a card from my dear friend, Allison, to celebrate my upcoming citizenship.
In the card, she wrote: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
As I read those words, my heartbeat quickened and tears welled in my eyes. I felt as though the founding fathers were speaking directly to me. The words repeated in my mind, over and over again. From, “truths to be self-evident” to, “created equal” then, “unalienable rights” and of course, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”
Flashes of insight and clarity followed as I felt the full import of the Declaration of Independence settle in my heart. I realized that prior to the Declaration of Independence, no nation on Earth had actually declared that all individuals had inherent rights. Not a single one.
The founding fathers of the United States of America birthed a new, revolutionary way of thinking about governance and the rights of individuals. Those ideas opened the door to countless movements for independence, self-determination, and revolution after 1776.
Did you know that more than half of the 192 countries now represented at the United Nations have a founding document that can be called a declaration of independence .The Declaration of Independence is also the basis for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Declaration of Independence changed the world and the essence of those ideas rings true today: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
I write these words again to remind myself that these rights do not exist for everyone in the world. Even here in the US, the fog of greed and intolerance can obscure the purpose of this precious gift. Prejudice, ignorance, and injustice can chip away at the foundations of our liberties all the while masquerading as tradition, values, or security.
The Declaration of Independence is a living document. All that it spoke of centuries ago is still true and applicable today. It is this, that I choose to uphold now as an American and as a conscious, caring citizen of the world.
Weeks before his death on July 4, 1826, Thomas Jefferson made an assessment about the potential of the Declaration of Independence: He said it is “an instrument, pregnant with our own and the fate of the world.”
American is the “land of the free and home of the brave” only if we uphold these self-evident truths, not just for ourselves, but all of humanity.
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, summer is coming. According to the weather reports, we are going to have the hottest summer on record this year.
How does that make you feel? Are you excited because finally you’ll get some sun? (I am talking to you UK!). Or, are you dreading it because where you live it could mean higher utility bills, the possibility of forest fires, fried gardens?
It’s interesting how often we listen to weather reports and climate predictions with mild disinterest or fatalistic resignation. We may feel overwhelmed by the scale of the challenges ahead. We ask ourselves, “How can any one person make a big enough difference to make actual change happen?”
I get it and I say we can.
Before I get into that, I want us to take a few steps back.
About 20+ years ago, one of the things that attracted me to the “New Age” was the idea of human potential, i.e. what are we capable of doing? Can we communicate telepathically? Can we manifest things by focusing consciousness?
Back then, it was believed that we only used 10% of our brain’s capacity. Of course, we still don’t have an understanding of its capability, so the curiosity is still the same. This idea of unrealized potential with its untapped energy lit a fire in my mind and imagination. What else could my brain do if fully trained and tuned, I wondered?
I launched into activities in which I tested my brain’s capacity. Mind over matter was especially interesting. I did firewalking, staying awake for days at a time, meditating, and even calling the rain.
In all of these activities and experiments, I noticed one common factor, the relationship between my state of consciousness and my success. The more still, clear, and focused I was, the better the outcome. So, I learned to drop the mental chatter and self-doubt. To dive deeper into an inner quietude to direct my consciousness towards desired goals.
I have experienced great successes and some failures along the way. The purpose of all this experimentation was not to inflate my ego, but rather experience the joy of being a human utilising as many of my skillsets as possible.
Pioneering physicist Sir James Jeans once wrote: “The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter, we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter. Get over it, and accept the inarguable conclusion. The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual.”
That brings me back to this summer, its heat, and climate change. Would you be willing to try an experiment? To use your consciousness to cool the heat down a few notches? To change the climate, if only just a bit? Could you imagine cool, gentle rain falling on a dry, parched desert? How about putting out some forest fires?
Imagine if hundreds of us did this, not just once but every day, calling the rain, cooling the temperatures. What could happen?
Here’s how we call the rain.
Take a few moments to clear your thoughts. Inhale and exhale deeply a few times and then close your eyes. Now imagine rain; the sound of rain, the feel, and smell of rain. Think about all the times you have loved the rain and how it felt for you. Continue to immerse yourself in the experience and sensations of rain and imagine it raining with your whole heart. Call it forth and greet it with love and joy.
Imagine what it feels like to be rain, gathering in clouds and pouring from the skies. Imagine the first drops of rain touching the earth, the upturned face of a child. Imagine the blessings of an elder as the rain replenishes the dried river beds or puts out fires in burning forests.
Call the rain.
When you feel complete, take another deep breath and open your eyes.
Keep calling the rain, like a gentle mantra as many times as it takes to rain.
It may not rain immediately or for days. Do not be discouraged. Remember that we are exploring what can happen when we focus our attention and that we can participate in natural phenomena, such as the weather. It may take a few turns to get it right. Stay steady. Stay the course.
I would love to hear from you. Have you ever used your consciousness to change traffic lights or called for the sun to come out? How did you do it and have you been able to repeat the outcome? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.