Mistaking Peace as Boredom or Emptiness

I was driving down a highway in mid-November near Sumner, Washington.  It was an unusually beautiful day with blue skies and sun and the brisk cool autumn air you associate with freshness and cleanness.  I was admiring the beauty of poplar trees along the highway when I noticed a sense of inner emptiness, perhaps boredom and my mind immediately wanted to fill in that emptiness with worries about the future and things I had to get done.  But instead of going to that place of anxiety, I decided to sit with the emptiness a little further instead of turning away from it.  What I noticed was a sense of peace often associated with being in nature.  I then wondered how often in my life I confused peace, what I ultimately want most in my life, with boredom or emptiness.  I realized it was probably often and realized that most us probably do the same thing.

As a mental health counselor, I often try to help people learn how to cope with anxiety through reframing anxious thoughts and learning coping skills.  What I notice is that a great deal of people reject these ideas and hold on tightly to the their anxious thoughts and behaviors.  While they say that they want peace, they ultimately push it away.  They claim that they aren't capable of meditating, that deep abdominal breathing makes them more anxious and that their anxious thoughts and beliefs are benefiting them more than costing them.  When I ask what they do to calm down or relax, they usually say that they watch YouTube videos, watch TV, play games on their phones or play video games, usually of a violent or fantasy nature.  

In general, these activities tend to be more stress-inducing and anxiety-provoking than not.  However, there is a reluctance to give up the distraction, the stimulation, the constant anxiety, the sensation seeking and the numbing and soul-sucking activities that revolve around the technology, electronics and social media that plague our society at this time in history.  There is a lack of exposure to or immersion in nature which is grounding, relaxing and calming.  There's almost a lack of interest in the natural world today.  As we become more and more disconnected from each other and from nature, we become more and more disconnected from our spirits, our higher purpose and our shared humanity.  

And this is one of the major things causing today's anxiety epidemic and the soaring need for mental health services in general.  I remember the good ole days 20+ years ago when I had all sorts of no-show's and cancellations in my schedule because the weather was nice or bad or people just didn't feel the need to come in for counseling that day.  Nowadays, however, I work long hours because people rarely cancel appointments, there is a waiting list for all mental health providers, we are booked solid and people have to wait for their intake appointments.  It's like the world has gone mad.  

My chiropractor, a very gifted energy worker and healer, told me that I need to "reset to love" whenever I'm feeling vulnerable to others' energies.  That is largely the source of my anxiety - worrying about others and feeling their worries as well as being "attacked" at times by those with negative intentions and energy.  She said a very wise thing to me as well:  "divine love is the best protection there is" because if you are vibrating at a higher consciousness, you simply don't attract negative energy to you.  

As the assigned worrier of my family, I have decided and declared that I must give up this family role and let other people worry about themselves.  It's simply too much for me now to take on others' worry to the extent I have.  I have this compulsive need to help others to a pathological degree.  But the buck stops here and I'm hoping that you will join me in the light and make declarations in your own life.

And the next time you feel a twinge of boredom or emptiness, turn into it instead of away from it, thank it and join with it.  You may just find a sense of peace waiting for you to arrive, waiting for your acknowledgement and longing for you to let it into your soul.  Blessings, Nicole-Marie