The Difference Between Anticipation and Anxiety

I’m always reminding myself to “stay present” and “live in the moment.” Constant mantras. I had the honor of practicing with an incredible Yoga Goddess, Melanie Salvatore-August of YogaWorks Walnut Creek, yesterday morning and she pretty much spoke the truth of my own Soul. While our sweaty foreheads were resting on the mat, muscles warm, feet splayed out, Melanie said something along the lines of, “Be here. No expectation of the future. Just this one moment of being still and turning to pudding, going to softness. Be in this moment. This coming from the queen of making plans, I always have a plan for everything. I spend my whole day making to-do lists and plans, so I’m always working on staying present.” Needless to say I cracked a smile into my sweat-dampened mat and let out a little laugh. This hit me, hard

I thought to myslf, Wow…and all this time I’ve been thinking it had to be one way or the other. Either I was an anxious “planner” or a mellow, “go with the flow” type who merely anticipated the unknown  joys of the future.

Not so.

Melanie’s blissful spirit, soothing voice and contagious mindfulness sent me from the studio yesterday in yogic rapture. How one harmonious being’s incredible energy can permeate another’s never fails to sweep me off my feet and it is why I know I must follow my heart into the Yoga Teacher Training. Ironically, Melanie will be one of the leaders of this training, alongside a second Yoga Goddess I’ve had the honor of practicing with (*cue my heart and soul calling out in joy*). 

As I left class yesterday I was also completely immersed in a new way of thinking about the present and planning for the future. I had this, seemingly simple, and yet overwhelmingly powerful Melanie-induced epiphany: 

I can ardently anticipate the future without anxiously planning it.

This sentence is huge for me, just for your information. I am QUEEN of post-it writing, whiteboard list-making, calendar-scribbling, way-far-in-advance incessant planning. That’s me. Part of it is because I enjoy looking forward to my life, and part of it is a slightly compulsive urge to have a post-it in my pocket with some type of “to-do” list, some type of reminder of things to blog, google, do, make, blah blah blah. It’s not freeing for me to have an empty pocket or shopping list. In fact, one would expect me to probably sigh in relief when my whole to-do list is cleared and shopping list completed, but no…instead I begin rebuilding it! I even begin adding things I’m not out of, just so I don’t run out, just so my list has something on it! It’s ridiculous when I write it out, but I want to fully acknowledge this behavior of mine and see if perhaps it doesn’t change a little after being exposed to my consciousness and then inspected under full light.

What Melanie’s words sparked in me is the idea that one can laugh at oneself for this behavior. One can say, “Ha ha yeah that’s me, always making plans,” and still make gentle efforts to release the urge to control the future. Making plans in lighthearted anticipation of one’s own blissful future is healthy and wonderful. Generating anxiety over an unfeasible desire to control the present, however, does not serving anyone. We are taught to let go of actions, behaviors and beliefs that no longer serve us. So let go.

Make a conscious effort to remain present and positive in your mindset. Enjoy making plans but notice how much you attach to them (don’t worry this is not a lecture, I’m directing all of this at myself, but feel free to take from it if you too suffer occasionally from planning anxiety). 

I find that the more I focus on my present moment, what I’m doing, saying, feeling, wearing, being, and directing my energy towards right now – the more warm and fuzzy my anticipation of the future feels. Sometimes I see young families, so much love between spouses, their sweet, curious little baby’s face, and I think to myself, Wow someday I’m going to have my own family, it’s going to be so wonderful and yet the mystery of who they will be and what it will all look like has not even been revealed to me and I’m joyously anticipating it. That is the example I will recall, when this Anticipation VS Anxiety topic comes up for me. I’m by no means anxious for the aforementioned situation. I’m not actively seeking it out, nor am I impatient for it to come to be. I just believe in my heart of hearts that it will happen for me one day and it will happen in just the exact way it’s meant to. I believe it will be beautiful and amazing, and I anticipate it warmly. 

There is the difference, for me, of something I anticipate anxiety-free. I believe having a structural idea of what we hope for and aspire to in life gives us purpose, it gives us hope. Releasing the details and “exacts” of this structure, of this framework, opens up our lives and hearts to endless possibilities. Remaining unattached to the “how” and focusing on the “why.” Because it will make me happy. Because it is a dream of mine. Because I deserve bliss and joy in this life.

When we hold onto the positive and purity of the moment, we manifest bliss and joy in our futures. So, for today, I will try to refrain from planning tomorrow. No matter how joyous the plans for tomorrow may be, or how important my “note to Self” reminders are, I intend to keep my pockets post-it free for just one day. My empty pockets will represent my determination to serve my Self, to keep my anticipation of the future lighthearted and warm.

Namaste friends, happy day of rest.

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2 thoughts on “The Difference Between Anticipation and Anxiety

  1. This post is 100% me! I’ve been trying to focus on the present, stop all the planing and wondering and need to control and just let life be so thank you for the good reminder!

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