Don’t Resist Your Anxiety
In our fast-paced speedy world anxiety is on the rise and it dogs the life of a growing number of people. As anxiety is a very uncomfortable state to be in, it is not surprising that we rush into our thinking (racing mind) in an attempt to control, manipulate or push away anxious thoughts and feelings. But, unfortunately, the more we resist anxiety the more it persists, often leaving us fearful of our own mind. The immediate key to calming anxiety is to come into an awareness of one’s breath and one’s body, calming the quickened breath and soothing the tightness and contractions felt in the body. While over the longer term an ongoing mindfulness practice is a very beneficial antidote to anxiety, here are a few tips that can be really helpful when you find yourself in the grip of anxiety:
As you exhale, acknowledge the presence of anxiety, even saying the word ‘anxious’ slowly and gently to yourself. There is a paradox that the more we accept what is present, the more spaciousness we will experience. This is because we stop fighting with what is present.
Stay with the breath if that feels comfortable; you can even place your hands on your lower abdomen as you breathe in and out. It is best to keep your focus on the exhalation and to allow the inhalation to come and go naturally. Dropping your focus to your body, bring your attention to either the rise and fall of the abdomen or the sensation of the hands resting on your belly.
Expand your awareness to connect to the other senses, sights, sounds and tactile feelings (feet on floor), so that you can open up to the immediacy of your environment. Because with anxiety everything seems to contract and narrow, the practice of opening up is very helpful. It also brings us more into present moment awareness.