Anxiety and the present moment

by Sofia

I always have a lot of anxiety when it comes to writing papers and getting major work done. I managed to spend almost the entirety of this weekend without touching my schoolwork, and was in tears when I realized how much I had to do and that I had to start doing it.

Paralyzed with dread and worry, the only way I could snap myself out of it was to put myself on time out (i.e., sit zazen) in my room for thirty minutes. While I was sitting sheltered from the terrifying world of doing, I remembered something I heard at a Sukkah dinner I attended this year: being present means accepting what you are doing at the moment, and realizing that to want to rush the boring or unpleasant things to rush to do the ones you like is futile, and that being happy with the moment at hand requires that one embrace what one is doing regardless of whether you prefer it or not. This idea of anxiety emerging when one departs from the present is something I had come across before in a book about Gestalt therapy. What am I rushing off to do? Why? Don’t make yourself fear work because you’re dwelling so much in the future and its ramifications. Love the ugly, banal task of incomplete struggle to move forward, because that is what your life invariably consists of.

This concept gave me the stillness I need to get up and go work tonight. I hope I’ll be able to abide by it more often.