Anxiety, Emotions and Opening To Them

The guidance in this posting was prepared and provided to me by my Craniosacral Therapist (CST, LMT).  She has given me permission to include it in this blog either in verbatim or paraphrased.  (FYI – I first posted about my initial experience with CST here.)

My CST has been treating me for many physical issues over the last couple of years including chronic pain in several areas of my body, and recovery from multiple surgeries.  Weekly craniosacral and massage therapy sessions from her, regular pain psychology sessions from a licensed psychologist, and periodic acupuncture treatments from a licensed acupuncturist, have provided me with the majority of improvements and answers concerning my recent health issues.

Since the body and the mind are connected, professionals and exercises in both areas are essential for my healing.  My CST said it is important to note that she is not a psychologist, and that her work includes how the mind and psyche (such as anxiety, emotions, thoughts, feelings) enter and affect the body physically.  Her expertise and treatments have been very helpful for me.  The information here is based on her personal experiences and materials she has come across over the years in bodywork trainings, meditation trainings, and teachings she has heard.  I thank her for allowing me to include her experiences here.  (This image below is a doodle I did to introduce her information.)

When you feel a strong emotion arise:

1)  Focus on your breath.  Connect with the physical sensations of breathing in your body.  Do you feel your chest rise and fall, do you feel the breath rush past places in your sinuses or down the back of your throat?  Any place you can feel the breath enter and leave, focus there.  Your breath is your anchor to the present moment.  It’s impossible to breath in the past or future where your mind and/or body often want to go in their remembering or anticipating.  To invite yourself fully into the present moment, focus on your breath.  Note how your breath feels and what you notice.  After noting awareness, invite your breath to gradually become slower, deeper, more relaxed and more regular.  I often repeat those four parts to myself when I feel increased anxiety…slower, deeper, more relaxed and more regular. Give yourself several minutes of this practice to slow down.  Dr. Andrew Weil teaches this practice as a way to turn off fight or flight response in the body.  You may be able to find more information on his website or look for his Breathing: Master Key to Self Healing series.

2)  Once you have focused and found new awareness with your breath, notice your body as a whole.  How is it feeling in this moment?  If the anxiety is still present, what sensations do you feel with it?  Is there contraction anywhere?  Is there a sense of resistance in your body?  If there is, invite these places to soften.  Don’t force this invitation, just hold the request in your mind, breath and soften as much as you can and stay in that place.  Focus on the contraction and sit with it the way you would an old friend that is telling you their story.  What is it making you aware of?  What is its message?  Note anything that comes to you.  Before leaving this step, surround these contracted or resistant places with reassurance that you are here and you are listening.  You are grateful for the work they are doing for you in your healing process.  Do your best to be kind and extend as much compassion to these places as you would to any living thing that is having this experience of anxiety.

3)  Notice how you feel after the first two steps.  Note this awareness.  Make your notes simple and not too in your head.  Just remind yourself with words or phrases in a book.  Later you can go back and fill them in.  Stay primarily with the feelings in your body and your experience of them.

4)  Last, notice any thoughts, feelings or memories that arise.  Note these.  Often these will come in flashes or parts.  Just note what you remember even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense in the moment.  Recurring thoughts and feelings are especially important.  In my experience they keep speaking up because they need special attention.  They have a message that is often the key to a part of your healing.

After these steps, note how you feel.  Bring these notes to your psychologist and/or therapist.  Let them know what your experience is so that together you can find ways that these things are still creating holding in your body and in your psyche.

And remember, you may be coming into a new way of being.  There may be a way that you were conditioned to live (school, work, etc.) where you learned to push yourself a lot.  It’s a pattern that gets laid down not only psychologically but physically.  It takes work and practice and patience, in my own experience, to get new patterns to hook up.  It is literally coming into a new form with your life.  This practice I’ve described above can be used with any emotion that arises.  Opening in this way (softening in your body, noticing how you relate to thoughts and feelings that come and how your choices affect your body) help you open more fully to life and it’s intensity.  You find you don’t have to hold in the same ways anymore and you can make other choices through these awareness that free you and help you heal.

Do you practice being in the present? If so, what are your methods and your experiences?


15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. TBM
    Nov 01, 2012 @ 01:52:42

    I don’t do this as often as I should. You’ve inspired me!


  2. marina kanavaki
    Nov 01, 2012 @ 04:17:31

    Wonderful advice…
    I also focus on breath. It helps a lot!


  3. nuresma
    Nov 01, 2012 @ 06:18:32

    Very interesting! I and love the image 🙂


  4. aleafinspringtime
    Nov 01, 2012 @ 06:53:46

    An excellent step by step exercise on breathing, releasing and bringing awareness to the mind and the body. A wonderful way to being in the present. Thank you Fergiemoto for sharing this. Sharon


  5. zendictive
    Nov 01, 2012 @ 17:00:06

    I sit on the porch, watch the river roll by nearly every day as I feed the critters and watch the sun subside, I try to stay in the present by saying ‘snap out of it’ if my thoughts overwhelm me… Great post.


  6. Betty Hayes Albright
    Nov 03, 2012 @ 22:48:40

    I need to get over to this blog more often – you always inspire me, Fergie!


  7. frizztext
    Nov 11, 2012 @ 06:32:10

    important topic!


  8. Trackback: a n d . . . b r e a t h e « radiance

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