Connecting vs. Centering: Cherishing Others as an Antidote for Self-Absorbed Anxiety June 29, 2024 11:44

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During a recent online Dharma talk held at Sravasti Abbey, Ven. Thubten Jigme said, “Afflictions will come. What matters most is how you deal with them.”

I haven’t been feeling well these last few days. I’ve been anxious and restless—mentally scattered, easily distracted, and I’ve had mild bouts of fatigue and dizziness. In short, I’ve been in a funk.

I’ve taken extra care to stay hydrated (it has been exceptionally hot this week), rest, and eat good food. These have helped alleviate my physical symptoms.

For emotional and mental symptoms—I’ve taken time to reflect on the successes of others and to celebrate others, which has also been effective. The good news is, the month of June has offered several opportunities to do just that.

For example, on June 8th, the city of Indianapolis hosted a Pride Parade and Festival in honor of Pride Month. My daughter and I, along with my son-in-law, his siblings, and baby niece attended the parade in downtown Indy.

We gathered on Massachusetts Avenue, along with thousands of others who flanked both sides of the street to celebrate, support, and uplift the LGBTQIA+ community. There’s something very comforting and unifying about being in a diverse, inclusive crowd filled with people who are accepting, compassionate, and kind.

We watched and cheered as several businesses, non-profits, local organizations, and sponsors marched in support and celebration. Participants waved colorful flags, blew bubbles, tossed candy, smiled, and danced their way down Mass. Ave. It was truly a celebration of community members supporting other community members—and a colorful display of interdependence at its best.

A young man stood in front of me during the parade. He wore a bright purple outfit that he had designed himself specifically for this event. I watched as several participants in the parade stopped to compliment and encourage him.

One woman asked, “Are you Prince?”

He replied, “No…I’m me!”

This young man showed up, expressed himself with class and courage, and many others praised, acknowledged, and celebrated him. He was seen, and he was appreciated. That’s what this parade is all about, and I was grateful to witness it.

Being in the company of family and thousands of warm-hearted strangers who felt like family to come together, show support, and celebrate others was extremely hopeful and uplifting.

Just remembering and thinking about this event helped lift me out of my anxious funk.

Photo Description: Young man in purple watching a drag queen in a rainbow dress during Pride Parade in Indianapolis.


Another opportunity to celebrate others occurred on Father’s Day.

Elise, Christopher, and I showered Jim with gifts and attention at one of his favorite restaurants, Yummy Bowl, a Mongolian stir-fry and sushi spot in Greenwood.

Elise gave her dad a new baseball cap and dress socks, and I had given him a button-up dress shirt perfect for summer weather. We enjoyed our time, our conversation, and our bowls of noodley stir-fry.

Having time to celebrate with family is a wonderful antidote to hyper-focusing on the self.

Photo Description: Jim at Yummy Bowl on Father's Day


A few days after Father’s Day, on June 19th, we celebrated Juneteenth, which commemorates the ending of slavery in the U.S.

This holiday celebrates African American history, culture, and progress. In the days leading up to Juneteenth, I read Percival Everett’s novel James, a retelling of Twain’s Huck Finn from the point of view of Jim.

I had studied Huck Finn in high school with Mrs. Grenda, my favorite English teacher at Warren Central many years ago. I studied it again with a wonderful professor and Twain scholar, Dr. Baetzhold, when I was a student at Butler University.

Honestly, I liked James even better than Huck Finn! Everett incorporated familiar references and plot points early on in his novel, but he also created a fully-fledged and well-developed character through Jim, which is something that Twain did not do.

In this retelling, Jim is a strong, brave, intuitive, resourceful, philosophical, compassionate, and literate character. Reading this novel that focused on friendship and freedom was an excellent way to celebrate this meaningful holiday.

It also gave me time to reflect on and appreciate two amazing educators who inspired and encouraged my own journey in education as well.

Photo Description: Percival Everett's novel James on my lap. Maya is watching from the floor, curious about what I'm reading.


Last night, I didn’t sleep well, so when I got up at 4:00 AM, I decided to practice an online Feldenkrais lesson. Deborah Bowes was the instructor, and this particular lesson focused on fine-tuning awareness of the abdominals—and learning about how these muscles are the keys to finding stability, strength, and mobility throughout the rest of the body.

One of the lines that she said during the class was, “Noticing leads to awareness, and awareness leads to change.”

This quote, in a nutshell, not only describes the essence of the Feldenkrais Method, but it also describes the journey of progressing from focusing on the self to focusing on others. Like the abdominals, others are the keys to stability, strength, and mobility in the community, and they also help individuals find those same traits in themselves.

Only focusing on the self is like traveling down a dead-end street. Noticing the futility of this leads to the awareness and appreciation of others—the necessity and importance of connection and interconnection. This awareness transforms and changes the landscape, and it offers support and multiple opportunities for learning and growth. The dead-end street becomes a lush labyrinth of trails that welcomes exploration, curiosity, playfulness, and adventure.

Celebrating others—appreciating others—and connecting with others—these are rich, meaningful, and necessary antidotes to lifting ourselves out of the anxious funk that results from centering solely on the individual self.


By the way, another great way to lift yourself out of an anxious or restless funk is to practice mantra recitations with a mala. Currently, the Middle Moon Malas online collection is filled with beautiful malas designed to inspire and support meaningful practice. Please visit the homepage and view the hand-knotted malas that are currently available, and don't hesitate to reach out via the Contact Us page for custom design requests and inquiries.