Monday, September 10, 2018

I Worried

by Mary Oliver

“I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?
Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?
Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?
Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.”


For One Who Is Exhausted, a Blessing

by John O’Donohue

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight.

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken in the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

Letting go of Anxiety with Qigong

by Karen Steinbrecher

Qigong is a tool to transform emotional energy, anxiety, and stress into positive energy.  Life today demands a seemingly endless amount of energy and all too often we are left feeling drained and exhausted, stressed, perhaps anxious. Qigong is a way to help.  Everyone needs more energy, but some of us have forgotten how to access it.  These slow, flowing and meditative,  healing movements help us to let go, unlock, move on from stressful, anxiety-producing emotions. Qi is vitality, and Gong means practice. Thus, this practice helps us to empower ourselves and place more inspirational and positive energy into our mind, body, our emotions. You can learn more about this five thousand year old practice in Karen Steinbrecher's Tuesday and Thursday classes. 

Try this You Tube demonstration with Lee Holden called “An evening practice”.  It can be practiced at any time to help us release emotions we do not want in our life: To experience Qi Gong at the Resiliency Center or learn more, check out Karen's class schedule on out Resiliency Center calendar or contact her at or 215-836-7184.

Learning to Let Go of Anxiety and be Fully Present to your Life

by Heather Hill, MSS, LCSW

In my therapy practice and through personal observation, I’ve noticed that anxiety seems to be on the rise.  Anxiety can be a normal response to stress.  It’s a feeling of nervousness or unease, about an imminent event or a situation with an uncertain outcome.  It’s the alarm system in our brains that tells us danger is approaching and prepares us to fight, flee, or freeze.  However, anxiety can turn on us when our alarm system is sensitive or faulty, setting off emergency sirens all the time.  When our alarm system isn’t working properly, excess anxiety creeps in and interferes with our ability to be present, enjoy ourselves, and take risks to achieve meaningful goals.  Our lives become smaller and smaller and we feel worse about ourselves.  Anxiety can be persistent, like a weed; and if it’s not tended to, it can choke out the healthy life around it.  Fortunately, anxiety can be kept in check if you learn, and more importantly practice, the art of letting go.

Why Anxiety is on the Rise
Adults and teenagers are suffering from anxiety more now than in the past.  The American Psychiatric Association found that Americans are more anxious than they were a year ago on five measures: health, finances, safety, relationships and politics.  While it’s hard to draw any definitive conclusions about why this is so, many researchers suspect that the political climate, 24/7 news cycle, environmental degradation, and social media create a vicious cycle of fear and powerlessness. This article shares more:

Teenagers are also suffering from greater anxiety and depression. Researchers like Jean Twenge who wrote the book IGen point to a shocking increase in teen mental health problems with the advent of the Iphone. This article shares more:]

Strategies for Letting Go of Anxiety:

1. Connect to Nature

Many people feel less anxiety after spending time in nature.  Outside in a natural setting, our senses can be more engaged and we are less distracted by our minds.  In addition, we are most likely exercising when outside.  A Stanford study found that walking for 90 minutes in nature vs walking in an urban setting had an effect on the prefrontal cortex in the brain that is responsible for rumination. Read more about the study here: 

You don’t have to be close to a forest or a beach to reap the healing properties of nature.  A picture or a view of nature has been shown to relieve stress and anxiety. “Nature, whether you’re in the woods far away from it all, in a city park, or simply walking down a tree-lined street, has the power to make people feel new again. Studies have shown that a simple walk in nature can reduce anxiety, keep your spirits high, and even improve memory. Even just looking at photographs of greenery for less than a minute can give you a mood boost. Spending time in nature reduces stress and helps people feel energetic and more alive, according to scientists at the University of Rochester (Brown and Ryan, 2003). A recent study used mobile EEG devices to monitor participants’ emotions during a walk in nature. Researchers also found that people were more likely to experience meditative-like brain waves and exhibit less frustration if they were walking in a green space, compared to a bustling shopping street or a busy business area (Aspinall et al., 2013).”  Read more at

On the Restorative Nature Walk held here at The Resiliency Center every Monday, you can practice many of the suggestions listed here to identify, accept, and let go of your anxiety.  During the walk, we don’t try to achieve a certain amount of steps; but walk mindfully and slowly, stopping when a butterfly or bird delights us.  We strive to be present to ourselves, each other and the natural world and by the end of the hour, we all feel slightly less anxious.   

2. Return to the Body
According to Deepak Chopra (Read More at ), anxiety gets stuck when it stays in the mind.  If we recognize the energy we are devoting to thinking and overthinking, and tune in to the way our bodies are feeling, we can return to a natural state of calm.  Chopra advises that if we break down anxiety into each bodily sensation, we address one sensation at a time and gradually calm the entire body.  For example, if anxiety makes your breathing shallow, concentrate on taking slow deep breaths.  In addition to this practice, exercising, gentle stretching or yoga will help regulate our nervous system and help restore balance. Elsewhere in this newsletter, Karen Steinbrecher offers a Qigong practice for connecting with the body to release anxiety. 

3. Surrender the Ego
We may feel like we have to shoulder the burden of our fears alone because we don’t want to appear “weak”.  Or, as a defense against uncertainty, we paradoxically try to control more, not let less.  Acting counter to that instinct, by admitting your human limitations and practicing humility could yield greater connection to self and others.  Sometimes telling one other supportive and trusted person how we feel can be the most powerful step in reducing the negative impact of our fears.      

4. Start Meditating
When anxiety threatens to overwhelm your capacity to cope, it is a great time to begin a meditation practice.  One unique way to start meditating that incorporates nature is to find a “Sit Spot”, or a place you are drawn to in nature that you visit regularly for your meditation practice.  Find more information about it in this article:

5. Turn off the Phone
Social media and technology magnify worry by making us feel like we are missing out on news, social events or the latest trends.  We blur the boundaries of work and home life when we have access to emails right in our pockets.  We have a minute to check social media and we find ourselves suddenly feeling angry about something not “liked” or a tweet.  Try an experiment and turn off the social media for one month. 

6. Add in Gratitude  
In the tunnel vision of anxiety, we are probably not aware of gratitude.  At any time, no matter what is going on, one can always find something to be grateful for, especially by looking around in the natural world.  Start a Gratitude Journal, to capture moments or observations in your day that you’re thankful for. Sometimes, this practice helps us develop the mental flexibility to change channels or expand awareness and therefore dilute the anxious thoughts.

Heather Hill, MSS, LCSW has been a psychotherapist for over 10 years. She specializes in helping teenage girls and women who struggle with anxiety and depression. Heather is passionate about using nature and ecotherapuetic approaches to overcome mental health challenges . She can be reached at  or 215-485-7205.