I spent the last week of January at the Sundance Film Festival. It was my first time attending and it was absolutely the experience of a lifetime. But every time before a movie would start, I would sit in the theater and feel my heart pounding, my mind worrying, and my body aching. In the darkness, I could feel the hundreds of people crowded in around me and every fiber of my being longed to get out. To go home. To find some peace.
It was just an inkling, and once the movie started, it would pass. But in those moments, I realized what had been plaguing me for some weeks now: anxiety; the remnants of which had left me with aching muscles and joints, restless-leg-syndrome, bruises all over my body, and injuries that seemed to take forever to heal. I scoured the internet for diseases I might have and my mind worried endlessly on a variety of topics. But I remembered at Sundance that I had felt this way before. That I was feeling anxiety.
Using scripture to cure anxiety
And I know the cure for anxiety. By 2010, I had experienced my last bout of it and I knew the only thing that had cured me of it back then: a bible verse. Having lived with chronic anxiety for some years, my therapist recommended I read Psalm 23 every time I experienced it. And so I did. Whenever my thoughts started to flurry and my body started to act out, I’d reach for my bible, slow my breathing, and read it.
It gave me peace and after a while, it became so comfortable to me that I could feel God’s presence fill up my body with the very first sentence of it. My mind and body anticipated God’s healing until it had become instantaneous for me. Overtime, I started to replace my anxiety with God. I edged out its echoes by praying the rosary and reading the bible. And I began to experience the healing that these meditations on God had given me. That only God could give me.
As a student of Ayurveda and a neurologist-diagnosed hypersensitive (also known as an empath in spiritual terminology), I know that it is easy for me to pick up on things going on around me and thus, to feel overwhelmed. Big crowds, cold weather, and lack of ritual or routine all can cause me to feel unbalanced and scattered. And thus, I know the self-nurturing required to keep those anxious thoughts at bay: I recharge with alone time, I use warm oils on my skin, drink hot teas, and I journal every morning. But most of all, I pray.
Using prayer to cure anxiety
For me, God has always been the only being that could transform my anxiety into peace, and that peace, eventually to joy. And though I know there are several modalities that work wonders for others (yoga, meditation, and therapists have been great tools on my own healing journey), for me it has always been Catholic meditation that has proved most fruitful. Whether it’s sitting inside a beautiful cathedral, praying the rosary, reading the bible, or meditating on the daily Magnificat, my pavlovian response starts to kick in and God fills my being with light and love.
Now that the Sundance Film Festival is over, I have eased back into my routine: yoga, journaling, warm oils on my skin, but most of all, prayer. One decade of the rosary a day. One read of the Magnificat. And good old fashioned sitting in my cathedral talking with God. Though I know this anxiety is only a brief bout, nothing like what I had seen before, it’s a good reminder for me to return to God. For to me, He is the only thing that can fulfill.
A meditation from the Magnificat
And so I leave you with a Catholic meditation from the Magnificat. Read while imagining the imagery of the tree:
“God our father, by the Death of your Son, you planted the seed of the tree of life deep in this earth. By his Resurrection, you gave it light and warmth. By the gift of the Spirit, you water it with the waters of life that flowed from his side on the cross. May our lives bear its fruit, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.”