Kicking the Anxiety Habit: A Practice of Ease

One of the most prevalent challenges I witness as a Somatic counselor is anxiety. I’ve heard it described as a constant state of urgency, difficulty relaxing, difficulty sleeping, the sense that something bad is about to happen, shortness of breath, a racing heart beat, racing thoughts, jittery muscles, over eating, under eating, stomach pains, headaches and as panic attacks, to name just a few common symptoms. We live in a fast paced world. We hold down jobs, run businesses, and maintain creative projects while trying to nurture relationships, raise children and care for our homes. It’s no wonder that so many of us exhibit and describe the experience of anxiety. Most often, I witness a heartfelt desire to slow down, to savor the beauty of what is had, and yet there is often a lack of knowing, or more truly a forgetting, of how to do just that.

To holistically heal the impacts of anxiety, it’s helpful to explore our individual experiences of it physically, mentally, and emotionally. Each of us is unique, so, the roots of our anxiety differ and we may be attracted to different tools for healing. Fortunately, there are many out there.

In this first blog on anxiety, I’m focusing primarily on a physical exploration. Anxiety lives in the body, so it’s no surprise that one of the best routes towards easing its impacts is through the body. There are a wide variety of physical exercises and meditations out there that are known to have positive effects on easing anxiety and increasing agility and calm. You can learn them by studying yoga, tai chi, or aikido, in a meditation group or by receiving massage. You can practice them with a Somatic Counselor like myself. And you can practice on your own.

What’s most important, if you’re truly ready to kick the habit of worry and fear, is to come with a sense of curiosity and a commitment to practice. If you are ready to live with more ease and courage, then here is one opportunity to develop practices that do just that. Overtime, I will offer a variety of exercises on this site as audio or video. My intent is that this work is an exploration. You get to try out different styles. Some are focused on the breath, on different muscle groups, on the heart and so on. As you go, you begin to find what works best for you and you create your own healing regimen.

This first one is based in the breath and particularly in the lungs. So often, as our days are busy and we are trying so hard to keep up, our breath fills only the top and front part of our lungs in our upper chests. Our lungs are actually a spongy organ that fill up much of the inside of our ribs. At our backs, they meet our scapula bones. They reach down to the diaphragm at about our lowest front ribs. Our lungs hold closely to either side of the heart, as though giving a hug. Use your hands feel around this space. Allow yourself to note the physicality and fullness of your lungs inside your upper torso.

The following link is a 10 minute guided meditation aimed at softening into the backs of our lungs. Find a quiet spot to explore freely.

Kicking the Anxiety Habit 1: Back of the Lungs Breathing

Feel free to leave questions or feedback. And, most of all, may you find a moment of calm.

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