Three Steps for Releasing Anxiety
Recently I had to drink my own medicine. My anxiety level shot through the roof dealing with a serious situation in my life. In fact, just thinking about it as I am writing still brings back a little residue of the anxiousness. For me, that’s the proverbial “canary in the coal mine”. It’s a good thing and I take this awareness/warning as a reminder to do the work I’m about to share with you.
It has been my life experience, both personally and professionally working with clients, that healing, if it is going to last, must occur on all levels of our being. We normally look for healing on the Body level, and even on that level only do things that affect the body on the outside without looking into a deeper, more than skin deep solution. To heal deeply we must dive in and work below the surface on all of our levels of existence.
Anxiety comes from our beliefs, opinions, judgments, and the “shoulds” about how we feel or believe the world and ourselves is supposed to be. A mother might see a crumb in the corner of the room which triggers a panic attack that she is going to lose her children. In this example the crumb is no longer simply a crumb.
This obsessive thinking full of opinions, judgments, shoulds, and assumptions becomes easy to see as flawed from the outside but the feelings and thoughts on the inside are very really. You can see how the Mind has flawed thinking – Crumb = bad Mother. How the Body has flawed feelings – Crumb = sick to my stomach. And the Spirit has flawed beliefs – Crumb = I’m a bad Mother.
Identifying the flawed feelings, thoughts, and beliefs is important but that’s only half of the problem…now what to do with this awareness. It’s great to understand why you are the way you are but that doesn’t do any good if you don’t feel better. You can spend years analyzing why you are the way you are but if you’re still miserable then what good does it do?
I recognize that my Mind is out of control, that I think I can’t stop thinking about the worry or fear that I perceive. As this constant loop of words is spinning in my head, instead of trying to stop the loop I am going to put different words into it. I’m using what’s already happening. To do this I might pick up a book, Dr. Seuss books work really well, and simply read the book…out loud is best. Or, I repeat a mantra…”Faith not Fear!” What I’m reading doesn’t even have to make sense. BUT, if reading something that feels good has a positive emotional feeling to it this will make the experience of harnessing the obsessive thinking loop even easier.
Solutions – Read (preferably out loud), write, meditate, pray, chant, etc.
All these beliefs, judgments, and shoulds feel like crap in our body…at least they do in mine. Feelings happen in the body so this is where to start addressing those feelings. In the past I confused my thoughts for my feelings. It was as if I was disconnected from my body and all I had were thoughts. I discovered that the feeling of anger for me was a pit in my stomach and a deep heaviness in my heart. So, here I needed to start feeling different. The anxiety physically hurt, it felt debilitating and I felt frozen and unable to move. So, the solution for me was to MOVE! Walking for me was the answer. I dragged myself outside and went on a hike. This challenged my Body anxiety as it forced me to feel something different.
Solutions – Dance, walk/hike, exercise, yoga, swim…just move!
Anxiety had crippled my Spirit. I felt a deep sadness in my heart. I felt unworthy and unloved and my Spirit had been crushed under the weight of my beliefs and sadness. Healing my Spirit meant I had to unleash the bonds that chained me to my pain. To do this I turned to ceremony. I turned to fire. I wrote down all my anger and sadness. I got it out of me and onto paper. I took this paper and sat myself down in front of my fire pit. I created my own ceremony. First I thanked God for the opportunity to release and I found a way to be grateful if for nothing else but for the pain I was feeling. At least I could feel. Then I said a prayer. From there I placed those papers into the fire. Lastly, I scooped out the ashes and buried them in the ground letting the ashes be transformed; giving this pain back to the earth.
Solutions – Laugh, hypnosis, daydream, visualize, imagine, ritual, ceremony…find things that inspire!
These three simple steps cleared my Mind, Body, and Spirit of the anxiety that had been coded into my DNA from years of creating and living an anxious life. Some of them I had to repeat more than others in order to fully wipe away the residue of the anxiety…it can be like pouring milk out of a glass the milk is gone but the residue still needs to be washed away. There are still times when I find myself sliding back into old patterns of anxiousness but I now see this as a good thing for the experience is never long lasting and every time I come out stronger and happier. I learn more. I grow. I plant the seeds for a better more powerful life…sometimes those seeds just need a little heat to germinate.