For the past 3 weeks I’ve been on an island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea staying at my childhood home that has in the years since i’ve left it been transformed into what I imagine the garden of Eden might have looked like. I wake up to the sound of the trees rustling in the island breeze and a variety of birds singing in chorus. Donkeys bray in the distance.
I step outside and watch the shadows of the cedar tree branches dancing against the side of the house. A small green lizard darts across the grass and jumps onto the banana tree then disappears amidst the folds of the trunk. It is august, and though there are no real seasons, this might be the rainy one. Most afternoons the sky breaks open and showers burst forth. Everything smells like life.
I take a walk to the mango tree and see the two yard cats running after each other, tumbling and jumping in and out of trees. Cats are wild! I always carry my tote bag on these walks and collect the daily harvest. Six lemons that on the inside are more like oranges, sweet and tangy. Ackees that I whip up into a delicious topping for my toast. Two mangos for dessert.
It is in a word the perfect peaceful environment. So why then am I battling my anxiety in this haven of rest? Why do I oftentimes feel the urge to climb into the dark closet or an equally dungeon-like space and hide from everyone and everything?
Early morning at Pigeon Point Beach, Antigua, W.I.
I have a set amount of time to complete a writing project. Some days my creativity is on point and I sit and write and have the time of my life. Other days I can’t even create a sentence that is worth reading out loud. Every few days I look at the calendar and see how much time I have left. And then I panic. What if I don’t complete it. What if I don’t make the most of this gift of time? What if.. what if.
I had a conversation with someone a few days ago about these struggles and waves of anxiety. I told him that some days I feel defeated because I wasn’t productive enough. He said that he thinks creativity and productivity are a bit incompatible. Maybe. He then sent me a few meditation guides to help with my quest for peace of mind.
I started with a 10 minute introduction meant for the novice. Around the second minute my chest started to tighten and my breath caught in my throat.
‘What is happening to me?’ I wondered, then realized it was simply the first hint of panic. Why was I panicking during a meditation that was supposed to calm me? Well, I started to think ‘What if this doesn’t work?’.
But meditation is not a magic trick!. It takes a while to see results. Today was the third morning I went through the exercise and for the first time my mind wasn’t racing as much as usual. I was also able to keep my eyes closed the entire time. I do still feel some anxiety at whether or not I will be successful. But it might be getting a bit less crippling. I wonder if it’s true what they say about us sometimes being able to heal ourselves.