You dread getting up, fear the day that’s ahead of you. That feeling of anxiety rising as you realise you have a meeting or a social event with friends, or simply have some shopping to do.
These very basic activities in life can suddenly become a big ordeal. Why is that?
You may be holding onto emotions or carrying the effect of something that happened in your life. Maybe you’ve had a traumatic experience. Perhaps it’s an accumulation of life’s challenges and you’ve been bearing them and haven’t dealt with them along the way because it’s either too overwhelming or you feel you haven’t had time.
It can bring you to a place where carrying these emotions seems easier than expressing them. When you’re containing these emotions your building up a reservoir of tension in the body. This has a knock-on effect on your nervous system.
You contract, your whole life contracts. Something has triggered this feeling of anxiety in your body and it feels safer to contract.
When your nervous system gets over taxed it creates tension and stress in the body. You activate the fight or flight which increases the anxiety levels in the body. You live life contracted. The more social pressures increase, the more your anxiety levels rise.
Stomach tightening, sweating, throat contracting, heart racing, difficulty breathing – just some of the physical responses to anxiety.
The thoughts of leaving the house can feel daunting. This becomes more and more prevalent the longer you allow the symptoms to persist. You can end up in such a state that you don’t even want to leave the house.
When I was recovering after I experienced a traumatic birth, I got to a stage where I didn’t want to go to the shop. When I ventured to the shops I would feel that panic rising in me and leave because I didn’t want to face somebody and have them ask me about the birth.
You contract, your whole life contracts. That holding of emotions creates pain and hurt inside. You’re hiding your truth, you’re hiding the emotions that are behind all of this because there is invariably something that has triggered this feeling of anxiety in your body and it feels safer to contract.
You know on some level that this is not the way you want to live. This is not you.
This lack of expression of yourself, your truth, not acknowledging how you honestly feel, leads you to that place of looking at yourself in the mirror and not liking what you see. You feel like you want to scream! This is the pain you are holding.
It’s not how you physically look, it’s seeing your own pain when you look into your eyes. You’re looking right into your own heart, your soul and you recognise the depth of feelings and pain that you’re carrying inside that you haven’t expressed. These unexpressed emotions are keeping you in a place of suffering.
How Do You heal?
How do you transform these feelings of wanting to scream, scream at yourself, at the world, and move into a place of feeling serene? How do you close that gap?
Thankfully there are so many resources available, but the reality is; it starts with you. It starts with you choosing to make the change. You need to want to make a change. You know on some level that this is not the way you want to live. This is not you. This is not the way you were born to live in a state of anxiety and contraction and withholding yourself from the world. You were born to be the most bright and beautiful version of yourself, not this diminished version.
In order to free yourself then first you need to make that choice. State very firmly ‘I DO NOT WANT TO LIVE LIKE THIS ANYMORE’. ‘I DO NOT WANT TO FEEL LIKE THIS ANYMORE.’ Once you make that commitment to yourself you open to the many resources that are available. This is the first step to shift you out of a contracted state. You need to make the choice.
Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to face the underlying causes of anxiety. Sharing your experience with a friend may help to give you a sense of perspective.
The Things That Help Me To Cope
I remember watching Tony Robbins ‘I am not your Guru’ and experiencing that powerful moment of realisation that it was my choice. I either remain unhappy, struggling and stuck or I take responsibility for my emotions and begin to heal. It requires a strong heart and will to shift out of this state.
Here are some of the techniques I use to help me move from a place of holding to finding freedom.
1. Conscious Breathing
One of the first things you can do is to learn how to breathe efficiently. Learning a simple breathing exercise such as ‘Long Deep Breathing’ can help to slow your heart ratewhich can reduce the effect of anxiety.
This deep breathing draws oxygen into the cells and supports the body in calming the nervous system. This reduces the fight or flight bringing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system back into balance, reducing the levels of anxiety in your body. It can also help support a deeper sleep.
Here’s a video to help you master the technique:
2. Finding Support
Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to face the underlying causes of anxiety. Sharing your experience with a friend may help to give you a sense of perspective. Speaking to a therapist will allow more freedom to explore the deeper underlying issues. Check with your local G.P. for recommendations for psychotherapy or counselling. Finding the right kind of support is crucial to help you heal. Explore available options to open up the conversation.
This is a big one. If you can forgive yourself, for whatever it is, it will transform your life. At some level we can blame ourselves for all the hurt and pain. Or maybe you blame others for your pain. If we can start with ourselves and just say ‘I love you. I am sorry, please forgive me, thank you.’ This comes from the Hawaiian Healing technique ‘Ho’oponopono’. I found this a powerful way to break out of negative thoughts and bring deep healing to the pain I’d experienced suffering PTSD and anxiety.
Over the last few years I’ve created a daily practice of gratitude which has had a powerful and profound effect on my life. When you’re grateful for what you already have in your life the universe hears you and responds positively and with more abundance. By acknowledging the good that’s around you can enhance your life. You begin to see your life through a new lens.
Start each day by placing your hands on your heart and name three things that you are so grateful for. Don’t just say the words, but really feel the energy of each event.
The practice of yoga, for me, has been a huge part of the healing of PTSD, depression and anxiety. Practicing yoga, specifically kundalini yoga, provided a means of changing my state, helping me to move from a place of high anxiety to a state of calm. These powerful yoga movements and breathing techniques taught in Kundalini yoga can support you to let go and transform tension caused by anxiety. It supports you in letting go of the emotions that you may be holding onto. It can help you to become more mindful of your body and the emotions, more aware of your breath.
It can help you recognise that your thoughts are not you. Being mindful of negative thoughts that spiral you into a state of anxiety and the triggers for this state help you to change them in that moment.
These are just some of the ways that can help to support your healing. Once you make the conscious commitment to transforming your anxiety, then trust that you will be guided. Learning to love yourself is powerful.
When you come to face yourself in the mirror, look deep into your heart with compassion. Look into your eyes and say ‘I love you’. It may feel so difficult to do this for the first time and you may feel vulnerable. Do it anyway because you’ll love how good you feel after and let it slip into your mental chatter during you day too. How amazing to have a voice telling you how loved you are!
About the Author
Lisa Burke is an author, healer and a certified teacher of Hatha yoga, Kundalini yoga and meditation. Lisa is owner of Danu Yoga Centre in Dublin which provides inspiring weekly classes and workshops. Yoga Soul Academy has grown from this local seed to support and inspire many worldwide. Drawing from the knowledge gathered for over more than 20 years of practice, to help navigate life. Her passion is to enrich your life with practical tools to support your journey to health and vitality through the transforming practices of Kundalini yoga and meditation.
To join the Yoga Soul Academy visit https://yogasoulacademy.com/