“We need both a sincere resolve and effective practices in order to awaken our heart and mind. On this sacred path of Radical Acceptance, rather than striving for perfection, we discover how to love ourselves into wholeness”
Tara Brach (2003). Radical Acceptance
Anxiety is a whole-body experience; it is natural to desire and try to move towards a sense of relief. We develop coping skills and strategies for dealing with the often overwhelming cascade of sensations, emotions, energy, and behaviours associated with anxiety, however, we may also find that we are at a loss of how to help ourselves in the midst of such an experience. I know that some of my own skills and strategies are life-affirming and support my long-term resilience and wellness while others are in need of a tune-up or a toss-out. Where are you at, right now?
“Yoga encourages us to follow the path that most appeals to our hearts”
David Frawley, Yoga & Ayurveda.
Within a context of holistic health and uplifting choices, it has been shown that yoga & mindfulness practices that focus on self-regulation and self-compassion can
*Support deep relaxation and sense of well-being
*Build mental & emotional strength through internal focus
*Guide us to set intentions and stay committed to personal intentions
*Reduce reactive mind
*Increase attention to present moment
*Better regulate responses to emotions
*Support us to engage in compassionate self-study & self-awareness
*Improve cognitive abilities: helps us to access forgotten or new strategies and/or change the direction of a response by reinterpreting the meaning of the emotional event, experience, or situation.
*Help us de-centre from distressing thoughts and emotions and take proactive steps towards wellness
*Lower use of maladaptive coping strategies (e.g. blame, avoid, substances, self-harm)
*Help to shift mood more quickly (e.g. feel bad in morning, better in afternoon)
*Befriend our bodies & ourselves.
What sparks your curiosity, increases your capacity to self-regulate, and deepens you into a kinder, gentler relationship with yourself and others?
Here are a few practices that you might wish to explore; these practices focus primarily on accessing the body & breath as a resource for managing anxiety. When we experience anxiety, our bodies may feel very uncomfortable, we may think something is very wrong and, in the midst of anxiety, it can be challenging to make sense of the messages that the body is giving us. These practices are intended to help us get grounded, relieve stress, and support our capacity to mindfully befriend our experience with self-compassion.
A gentle yoga practice, like this one from Yoga International, that focuses on stable breathwork, deliberate movements, and guided relaxation can be helpful to calm the mind, settle the body, and clear anxious energy.
The Body Scan, like this one from Elisha Goldstein, can help us to attune to the subtle sensations in the body in a non-anxious time. Through this practice, we can increase our ability to notice unique and subtle sensations of anxiety and take skillful action before it becomes more and more overwhelming.
There are many types of helpful breath practices offered through the teachings of yoga and mindfulness. This is a very basic breathing practice called ‘Calm Breath’ from Anxiety BC.
Our anxiety may be due to factors that may be beyond our control and/or that require a community response in order to deal, such as environmental degradation, social issues, political unrest. A dedicated yoga, mindfulness, and self-compassion practice can support us so that we can engage in skillful reflection and grounded action off the mat, into the world. What I offer here is intended to uplift and support you – if you find any of the practices increase your anxiety, please stop and take a nourishing action. It is not one-size fits all.
More pathways to be explored… more posts to be offered.. more resources to be shared.
Looking for further support? Check out Anxiety BC or Bounceback Program from Canadian Mental Health Association. If you have a resource you would like to see listed here, contact me and let me know.
Footnote: Over the spring of 2017, I developed a four week program entitled Ease Your Worried Mind: Yoga, Mindfulness and Self-Compassion as resources for managing anxiety. I have offered the course twice in the community, each time refining and responding to client feedback in order to help the course be more effective and nourishing. I offer some of the content here, for you. Let me know your thoughts?
Please note: I draw from evidence-based studies, education & experience in mental health & addictions, yogic texts, practices, and philosophy, client feedback, and other sources; I do not make any medical claims nor is this a comprehensive survey of all that is available to us. I do invite you to get the professional support you need, try out practices that seem safe and grounding to you, find a local yoga teacher to help you in your practice, and stay curious and compassionate.
Sources: Keng & Tong (2016); Prakash, Hussain, & Schirda (2015); Menezes et al. (2015), Forbes (2011), Drummond (2016), Marcia (2014).
this path is paved with gold / jkl / 2017