Spirituality & Anxiety
One thing that has become extremely noticeable since starting my ‘spiritual journey’ is the increase in bouts of anxiety. I’ve always been quite sensitive since my teenage years but since actively developing my intuition and becoming more aware of myself spiritually, these feelings have intensified greatly. I find that I am constantly affected by other people’s energies and highly sensitive to negativity. Causing me to have both mental and physical reactions including going into negative states of mind, experiencing shallow breathing and tenseness in my body. So, watching the news, handling conflict and having arguments are really difficult for me to deal with. It is only through research over these past few years that I have come to learn and understand the commonly used term ‘empath’ which is ultimately someone who is extremely sensitive to energies and others emotions.
FINALLY I was able to define what I was experiencing!
Here are a few examples of empath traits:
• Very spiritual and easily absorbs others emotions
• Highly intuitive
• Can often be introverted and spend much time with one’s own thoughts
• Can get exhausted from being around others and need ‘alone time’
• Frequently attract people who share their problems/drain your energy
• Willingness to help others, often not giving enough time to themselves
• Sensitive to crowds and loud noises
• Struggles to deal with conflict
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
Whilst, the term ‘Empath’ doesn’t exist in African spiritual philosophies the description fits those of a highly spiritual nature. For example, the ones who would be the dream interpreters and healers in the community due to their intuitive abilities and willingness to help others. This ability has its positive traits such as a heightened level of spiritual awareness, which enables me to pick up on spiritual messages and decipher the meaning. It also brings about other levels of perceptiveness including being able to perceive when people are lying or quickly identify those who are not being genuine. The flipside is that my moods are open to fluctuation depending on who I come into contact with.
I used to think I was emotionally weak, as I easily got triggered by the simplest things. I can take things overly personally and tend to over analyse situations in my head constantly to the point of developing states of anxiety. I have come to find out that learning to deal with this gift is essential, in fact if you don’t it could easily lead to mental health issues.
Editors note: Now I must stress that if you find yourself getting triggered, it is important to find out what is causing you to feel that way. It is how you identify that there is an aspect of yourself that requires healing. Once you address it you will notice that whatever used to trigger you no longer has that power over you.
Through my research work with Ancestral Voices and genuine interest in spirituality I have come into some practices that help to keep these sensations more balanced and reduces the feeling of being overwhelmed and anxious.
Here are a few that help me:
Morning Spiritual Practice
Starting the day with spirit! I find expressing gratitude to my ancestors (maternal grandmother and father) by lighting a candle and/or pouring libation (water) to them and setting my intentions, to be a very good practice to get me in the right frame of mind for the day. My days that are started in this way tend to run smoothly vs the days where I don’t do it. One of my intentions that I include is to remain calm, balanced and protected whilst achieving all of my objectives for the day.
I often become aware of my breathing and notice that it is very shallow and that I am tense. This a common sensation for those that struggle with stress/anxiety. Randomly throughout the day I will focus on my breathing, slowing it down by taking deep breaths, holding it for a few seconds (a minimum of 3) and then releasing the breath slowly over 7 seconds. I find that if I repeat this process for at least 7 times I feel so much more at peace with myself. I do this everywhere so whether outside walking, sitting at a desk, in bed…whenever I feel the need for a continued state of meditation and calming the mind and body.
Immersing myself in all things natural helps to ground me and has a great impact in terms of making me feel secure and balanced.
Talking walks in nature, local parks, sitting in the garden, feeding the wildlife etc. Walking barefoot in my garden works wonders for balancing my energy. This practice is now widely known as ‘grounding’ although this is something that indigenous communities across the globe have been doing for millennia.
Allowing rainwater to fall on me whilst visualising and asking the water to release any unwanted energy and clear any fears/worries. I find this practice so liberating and it quickly makes a difference. (I also do this practice in the shower but find the rain much more effective).
The sea has always been a therapeutic place for me so whenever I visit I always make a point of taking deep breaths of the fresh sea air and soaking myself in the water. Being by the sea makes me feel refreshed and purified. Once again, in the water I ask and visualise being deeply cleansed and removing any energies that are not beneficial to me. I also collect pebbles and shells that I’m drawn to whilst there to take home and use them to reconnect to that feeling of being peaceful by the sea. I do this by carrying the pebbles/shells in a handbag or pocket when travelling, having them near my sleeping area or adding them to my personal altar space.
All of these practices listed above and more, I was introduced to via my research into the various expressions of African Spirituality and can be found here.
I’ve been doing this for a while now and actually love it. I find that listening to music with strong vibrational tones really helps to clear my mind and get me through the day when I’m overloaded with thoughts and need clarity and peace of the mind. This can be done whilst sitting at a desk, at home, in bed or whilst outside. There are loads of YouTube videos that you can listen to, to find out what works for you and experiment with the various sound frequencies including crystal and singing bowl sounds.
This practice has literally kept me sane! There are an array of things that can be used but my personal favourites to burn using a charcoal/oil burner are:
I hated the smell at first because it is so potent, but I have come to love it! It is used for removing negativity and purifying the air, I feel so full of clarity and peace after burning this in my home. I inhale deeply through both nostrils and find that it has an immediate effect on clearing my mind. I then use it to clear each room in the home, asking the camphor to purify the space.
Note: Speaking your intention is an important aspect and I would recommend applying to all of these tips.
After being intuitively guided to burn this it has become part of my regular routine. The aromatic smell is soothing and clove is known for purifying the air and driving out negative energies from the home. It is also used for prosperity too. I find that it provides a calming effect on my mind whilst making my home feel clear and harmonious.
Frankincense was my first introduction to burning resins and I still use it. Known for its purification and protection properties it is great for clearing negative energies. It is also an effective anti-depressant so great for lifting my mood and putting me a positive state of mind.
I love this for so many reasons! Its refreshing smell brings clarity of the mind and clears the air, allowing me to feel relaxed, free from stress and anxiety. It is also not overwhelming so can be used when guests are around creating a positive, uplifting atmosphere.
I’m still exploring ways to manage my anxiety as each day I’m guided to more wisdom which assists me along my path but these are definitely helping me right now. The range of practices I have been privileged to discover in the research work has totally transformed my life and provided coping mechanisms with old traits I have always struggled to overcome. Now I can choose from a range of solutions that keep me motivated and grounded to face situations and circumstances that before I could not.
What things do you do to help keep your anxiety at bay?
Please share your comments below, I would love to hear your thoughts.
Ancestral Voices Co-director
Further information on African Spiritual ritual practices can be found in our Home Study Course.