Thus far I have provided quite a bit of academic and anatomy dense material. While most people find knowledge helpful, knowing why you are struggling with anxiety is not the same thing as fighting the anxiety.
Here is a simple exercise that provides a sense of safety and grounding, which begin the journey of calming down your Amygdala, your brain’s smoke detector and partial cause of that anxious feeling you cannot get away from. In this exercise, we are going to begin to use our imagination for good rather than for worry and bad feelings. Those who think the imagination is not powerful, should bring to mind the last time they were worrying about something. Then, remember how miserable they felt at the time, though nothing was outwardly happening that was unpleasant. The worry itself caused those feelings of fear and dread.
So, for relaxation exercises, position matters. Place your body in the most relaxed posture possible depending on your circumstance. Begin breathing in deeply and fully empty your lungs as you exhale. Each inhale and exhale is one breath cycle. I suggest that you do at least 10 cycles before beginning the following exercise. While breathing, focus your attention only on your breathing and try to stay out of your mind and thoughts for this time period.
Once you are ready to begin, shut your eyes and bring to mind the face of someone who always, or most of the time, looks at you with very kind eyes. It may be a spouse, parent, an old teacher or a coach, but hopefully most people have someone in their lives that looks at them kindly. Once you fix that person’s face in your mind, imagine them looking into your face with their kind eyes continually for about 2-3 minutes. Notice what you are feeling when the exercise begins and how you feel when you are done. Notice what happens in your body when you are being viewed with kindness. Note the changes in relaxation, feelings of safety, and wellbeing.
Practice this exercise several times daily for a week or so and notice how this changes your perceptions and responses to daily life in a more positive and loving direction. If you have any questions about this exercise please let me know in your responses and I will reply.
Happy imagining! The upcoming holiday season, when we all can get a bit overwhelmed and busy is a great time to practice. Stay tuned for my new series on Love & Anxiety coming this week.