Today is day 8 and I have heard nothing since a text message on day 2 saying they had left Caracas safely. This is the longest period being without any contact with my husband in 30 years. Careers that took us to different parts of the world and Allan’s passion for exploring the more remote places on the planet have meant that we have often spent time apart but even in the days without Internet, we managed daily phone calls even if some had to go through the international operator. A key difference this time is that he is trekking on foot and canoeing through the jungles and mountains of Venezuela completely out of Internet and mobile phone range for about 15 days.
This is not a luxury cruise up the Amazon or a rainforest package tour. Venezuela is a country in economic and political crisis. Inflation runs at 800% and there are shortages of everything including food and medicines. Consequently, desperate people take desperate measures and Caracas is a dangerous, violent city where foreigners are warned not to leave their hotel. The threat from other humans diminishes as you leave the city and head into the wilderness but the jungle is no less dangerous. Blood sucking leeches and ticks, piranhas and disease carrying mosquitos are rife, not to mention the vampire bats and venomous snakes!
The other difference this time is that my teenage son is also on the trip.
So it is perhaps not surprising that I have been experiencing a bit of anxiety at times. There is so much for my imagination to conjure with! The wee small hours are the worst. There are no distractions in the dark silence just before dawn; no comfort in an empty bed. Just me and a gnawing anxiety in the pit of my stomach.
And then I wake up to reality. I remember that thought is creating my feelings. Thought and feeling are always connected; like two sides of the same coin. And as I remember, I see once more that the very real, physical and emotional sensation of anxiety has no relationship to the fact that my husband and son are away in the jungle. The potential dangers they face are real but the fear is not what it seems. It looks as though the fear arises from the reality of the situation but I know this is not true. The anxiety I experience is not caused by my family being 4000 miles away in a jungle inhabited by anacondas big enough to eat a human. In the moment that I remember that it is my own thoughts that are creating my experience, it doesn’t make sense to torture myself anymore and I relax. It’s human nature to get lost in the jungle of our own thoughts but much easier to navigate our way out if we understand the nature of our experience.
Life’s natural adventurers know this intuitively. Others have learned it. They don’t let fear or anxiety stop them doing what they want they to do.
When people first consider the role of their own thoughts in their feeling state they have different reactions. Some think that it is obvious, others that it is ridiculous, others that it is only partially true. If you ever experience anxiety about some aspect of your life, have a look yourself and see where the feeling is coming from. Does your feeling change when you get distracted by something else and therefore think about something else? Do you sometimes feel more positive or negative about the same situation even though the situation is the same? What would it mean if our most troublesome feelings were actually thought created and not really related to our external circumstances? Can you sense the freedom available if uncomfortable feelings are only an indicator of our state of mind not the truth of our circumsatnces.
Seeing the connection between thought and feeling and gaining an embodied understanding of it through my own experience has been hugely helpful for me in many ways and for my clients. It is one of the central facets of the Three Principles understanding. In the coming weeks I’ll be writing more about the implications of the thought-feeling connection and how an understanding of it can help us in all areas of our lives. So stayed tuned to this blog if you would like to know more.
If you want to hear more about Allan’s adventures you can read his blog at allanboroughs.co.uk
In the meantime, I’ll return to the jungle of my own thoughts in the secure knowledge that I have the freedom and the power to scare myself …or not.