Three monks were out for a walk — one wise, old monk and two of his younger disciples.
The older monk points at a large boulder and asks his disciples, “Is that boulder heavy?”
The younger monks find it an unusual question. “Of course, that boulder is heavy!”
“But,” says the old monk, “only if you pick it up.”
This classic Buddhist parable is a reminder that it is our choice whether we carry the boulder on our backs or leave it where it is.
The boulder in the Buddhist parable represents our worries and none of us is strong enough to carry them on our backs all the time.
The image that comes to my mind of a muscular man who is carrying the atlas on his shoulders. The Atlas represents the world, and no man, doesn’t matter how strong he is, can carry the burden of the world on his shoulders.
Our world has changed forever right in front of our eyes. So many lives have been lost. No one knows when this pandemic is going to be over and when we will be able to live normally, travel normally, and meet our family and friends normally.
We are all worried.
So many people have lost their jobs. Many others have lost their loved ones. The scars the cruelty of nature, mismanagement of governments and greed of certain people have left behind scars will take decades to heal.
We are hurting.
Nobody knows how we are going to emerge at the other end. No one can predict how many more lives will be lost to this pandemic. No one can say for sure how long the pandemic will last or what kind of world we will find ourselves in when we get to the other side of this catastrophe.
We are anxious.
How to control this anxiety.
First of all, we need to put the boulder down.
Feel lighter? I bet you do.
But “Anxiety” doesn’t.
It doesn’t want you to let go of worry. You see “Anxiety” and “Worry” are best friends. They want to stay together. Anxiety wants you to keep carrying Worry so that she can keep living in your mind.
Rather than lifting the worry back on your shoulders, you are going to offload Anxiety too and make her sit with Worry to keep her company.
How can you do that?
By painting the boulder.
Yes, that is correct.
You are going to go to your cupboard where you keep your paint and brushes, pull those out and start painting.
You see Anxiety is a genie, which needs to remain occupied all the time. It cant sit idle. It needs its master to give her something to do all the time.
Give it something to do.
What? you may ask.
That is right.
Tell it to create something.
Creativity is the antidote to anxiety.
That is the reason musicians all over the world were performing virtual songs during the lockdown, painters were posting videos of their art from their homes, bloggers were writing inspirational stories, dancers were performing online dance parties.
Creativity is how you survive trauma.
What can you get your “Anxiety “to do?
My friend Barbara would say, tell her to paint a Mandala. Pick a rock from your garden, pull out some paint and brushes from your cupboard and make ‘dot mandala.’ Here is how.https://neeramahajan.com/media/90ede2c32d1fb88bb80f8613ec135239
This is what Elizabeth Gilbert said on an Instagram message during the pandemic:
Create, create, create…” Don’t stop.
This is the photo of what I created when I was facing some of the dark times in my life. When I was in the hospital waiting rooms, in funeral homes, in the middle of the night in despair, on airplanes far from home, while nursing a broken heart, when terrified, tired, when angry, when grieving.
Constant creative response. This is how you keep the dance alive.
This is how you don’t get the stupidification to settle into your bones. Creativity is movement and movement is how we replace despair with a radical muscular engagement with life in life’s terms.
And this is what a young woman wrote in response to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Instagram message.
I used creativity to form communication with my neurological handicapped mother. She couldn’t speak hardly any words due to damage to her frontal lobe. She passed her time in a nursing home being an artist.
My sibling and I gifted her Empty sketchbooks for years and we received them back as gifts. I learned to draw, to communicate with her. Plus she learned some sign language and music was the best sharing our souls with each other.
Creativity expresses our emotions and creativity helps us heal.
Music, art, writing theatrics and so many other ways. We can escape and make our own world. We find out who we really are. I am grateful my family encouraged my art at a young age.
I am still an artist to this day. It has helped me through lots of hard times.
Feeling anxious with another lockdown?
Create some music.
Learn to draw.
Dance in your room.
Because this is how you get rid of worry and anxiety and thrive during a disaster.