Ruth: I would like to think that the reason I feel calmer and more serene is that my efforts on this pilgrimage are having an effect, that the hours of slowly pedalling around this beautiful island have helped me to stay present in the moment and let other concerns wash away. This is definitely part of the answer, but I have another theory as well.
After my trip to the Azores I found two blood clots in my leg. I was prescribed and have been taking blood thinners. Halfway through the trip I finished the course of pills, with another short course to start a week before my return flight. Going off the pills was terrible. Any change of head position from horizontal to vertical made me so dizzy my head was spinning. It felt like the “bed spins” you get when you lie down after too much alcohol. It made getting up from futons or tents even more challenging. I had enough pills to just go back on them and after about a week the dizziness thankfully faded away.
I have POT Syndrome which means that my heart must pound faster when I stand up to prevent my blood from pooling in my legs. It makes me wonder if at least some of my anxiety could be a physiological reaction to not having enough blood in my head? It is curious that I have not felt any anxiety the entire time I have been on this medication. Of course I have worried over a few problems but never felt the anxiety I normally struggle with.
It will be interesting to see what happens when I wean myself off the medication. Perhaps instead of trying to figure out if it is Buddhism or the blood thinners I should just sit back and enjoy this moment.