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Anxiety be gone (or nearly)

Well we seem to be moving, if not settling,

into this new normal, but no one can tell us for sure how long this might last and under what terms it will last. This uncertainty tends to be one of the biggest drivers of anxiety. Uncertainty is anxiety's arch-enemy. I told you in last week's post that I had a magic chest full of simple tools, so here are three more for you.

Tool One:

Imagine if anxiety were just bits of confetti you could blow away with a few puffs. Well, these tools are not so far off that mark. For this one, you need a simple supply which may be hard to purchase right now if you don't have some in the house (I'm currently out of them, for example). Wanna guess? Yes, soap bubbles (in case you don't have any, here's a link for homemade ones).

Have you ever seen someone looking stressed or even unhappy blowing soap bubbles? The only challenge is that most people past 12 don't do it anymore and may have to overcome a bit of self-consciousness but it tends to vanish with the first few bubbles.

Tool Two:

Japanese Hand Holding Head

This I learned from the generous Gabby Bernstein. You can sit or lie down. You place your left hand on the area of your heart and your right hand on your forehead. Place them so that the pressure feels comfortable, not pressing too hard or too soft. Leave your hands there for a slow count to ten.

Then slowly and mindfully move the right hand to lie on top of your belly, leaving the left on the heart area. Again, count slowly to ten.

Take a short pause and notice if you feel any difference. Are you breathing more deeply, feeling less agitated? Did you even like it? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you may want to repeat it.

Tool Three:

Mindful Sitting

You knew I'd have to get to this one eventually, right? You may like to use one of the other tools from the post a week ago in order to feel a bit more grounded first. If you are comfortable sitting in a meditative pose (more on that in another post), feel free to do so. Otherwise, you can sit as you like. For the flow of your breath and general energy, a comfortable upright position is optimal. Gently, breathe in through your nose and imagine that breath flowing down into your lower belly and filling it. Please do not force your breath but enjoy its warmth and the fact that you can breathe. Exhale slowly through the nose or, if you prefer, through your mouth with your lips slightly parted.

After you've done that a few times, allow your attention to scan your entire body from the top of your head to your toes. Notice any tension or relaxation, coolness and warmth, tingly or numb, and so on. As much as you are able, refrain from judging whatever you perceive. Now notice what you are feeling. If you feel anxiety, it may help to imagine a frightened crying young child or a hurt kitten and how you would respond to a creature in need. For nearly all humans, a quite spontaneous and natural urge arises to reach out and to comfort, yet with our own vulnerable feelings, we have a tendency towards anything but that.

I invite you to imagine simply holding your anxiety with kindness, caring, and patience. Just that. Simply allow it to be there. You may notice that other feelings show up. If you feel you're up to it, allow them to be there as well.

If it ever starts to feel like too much, slowly and mindfully open your eyes and notice again what you are seeing in the physical space around you. You may return to your breath and holding these feelings and sensations now or at a later point. What generally happens, just as with kittens and upset children, is that the emotions quiet down once you attend to them. This doesn't mean that they just go away. Emotions may come and go, but they are more likely to calm down a bit when we pay attention to them. This might seem paradoxical but our vulnerable feelings ache to be seen and held.

And remember, you can always blow bubbles. Really.

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