Things I’ve noticed by trying to practice more diligent self-examination:
When I feel anxious, I am alert, but fear always accompanies that alertness.
When I feel aware (meditating, writing, running), I’m also alert and present, but without the fear.
The anxiety heightens my perceptions in some ways, but the fear also pushes me out of the present. The fear keeps me focused on all the ways the outcome could wrong. It cycles through the things that have gone wrong in the past. On an important level, it makes me always wish I were somewhere other than where I am. Somewhere safe.
I’ve become aware of how much the fear/anxiety expresses itself in what looks like anger. My voice gets louder, my tone more urgent. I breathe more rapidly. When the mood passes, my muscle relax, and it’s only then that I realize how tensely I’ve been holding my body.
I say the behavior “looks” like anger, because I don’t feel angry. I simply become the personification of the “fight or flight” response. The world diminishes to a flattened black and white. Sharp relief. Do this, not that. No detail, act, or word is insignificant. Everything matters in some essential, life-or-death way.
Awareness isn’t just a matter of being calm but a different state of existence. Everything is here. Everything is present. Everything is unfolding, and I am simply part of that.
Most of all, in the midst of awareness, I don’t perceive myself as deficient, while in the midst of anxiety I worry about being flawed and insufficient. Swimming in my anxiety, the possibility of my making some crucial, unanticipated mistake looms large.
It’s not so much that awareness fills me with confidence. It’s that in awareness, I simply am who I am, and I trust in who I am. Whatever else flows from that simply flows from it.
Good lord, who just wrote that?