Whenever I stand at the threshold of something daunting I feel my heartbeat accelerate as I sense fear trying to talk me out of taking that next step. In these moments I imagine something serene, and I focus my energy on it until my moderate heartbeat returns.
My cousin took a photograph of Jasmine’s face which looked so tranquil. I immediately wanted to sketch her expression when I saw it. I will store it away as one of the images I will use to calm me in moments of anxiety. I’ve titled this piece Face It.
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” Eleanor Roosevelt famously stated. When a challenge presents itself, I do not wish to shy away from it. Instead I will use my mind to break it down into achievable parts and be mindful about my heightened emotional state.
When I was in school, I took part in competitive sports, swimming, and athletics. I remember how I used to feel right before I’d dive off the blocks before a 50 metre freestyle race. I’d get butterflies in my stomach and my second toe in my foot would cramp up. I’ve been known to swim with a cramped toe and it’s not a pleasant feeling. Later in my life I retrained myself to run medium distance, between 10 to 21.1 kilometres. I completed my first half marathon a decade ago and I felt very accomplished because I never believed I could go the distance.
It feels like time slows down when I’m mindful. Everything feels less frantic and I can focus on my task. When I dial down the emotion I can often see things more clearly, my limbic system is tamed and my prefrontal cortex can do its job. If I work on any challenge in bite-sized parts then it no longer seems insurmountable, it is just the sum of smaller challenges.