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How Anxiety Works & What You Can Do To Dissolve It

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

I work as a family doctor and I often see patients complaining of anxiety and panic attacks. At one time, my local counselling service was very slow and the only help I could offer those people was a promise that someone will contact them in 2-3 months.

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It did not sound right to me. I was letting my patients down.

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I had to find a way to help them during my appointments. I had 10 minutes for one patient and I quickly realized that it was impossible to have a lengthy discussion about anxiety within this time. Problems related to anxiety were always complicated and took time to explain.

I had to find a method of helping them without listening to the story.

I started researching it and I was surprised to learn that there are quite a few such methods around. I tried one of them on my friends and my family and I found it very effective. It did not suit everyone, but there was a good number of people reporting a significant improvement. And it really did not matter what they were anxious about. The story was not important. What mattered was HOW they knew they were anxious.

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THIS IS HOW I HELP MY PATIENTS TO REALIZE HOW ANXIETY WORKS

First I ask them to become anxious about this ‘thing’ while they sit in front of me. It is usually very easy. Then I ask them to grade the anxiety on a scale from one to ten. It takes a few moments. Once the number is decided I ask them to become a bit more anxious and jump one point higher on the scale. They are usually surprised with this request but after a short while everyone does it.

When they finish, I ask how they know the anxiety has become worse. They seem confused and usually say ‘I just feel it.’ Then I ask, ‘But what exactly do you feel?’ They look at me even more confused and they do not know what to say.

Then I explain – ‘The moment you try to become more anxious you think about someone or something that triggers the anxiety. At the same time, you sense the physical tension growing somewhere in your body, like a lump in the throat or knot in the stomach. It is a spasm of the muscle group reacting directly to the anxious thinking. Once the spasm gets stronger you know that the anxiety has worsened.

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THEN I EXPLAIN MORE

A physical sensation related to anxiety is caused by a spasm of a specific group of muscles and helps us to recognize how we feel.

For example, muscle spasm can be felt as:

Tight band over the head – this is caused by a tension of muscles located on the skull. Longterm tension of these muscles can cause tension headaches. It is because a cramped muscle cuts itself from a regular blood supply and becomes unhealthy.

Lump in the throat – it is triggered by muscles located in the throat. They are responsible for swallowing and speaking. People who suffer from anxiety which affects these muscles have problems with public speaking, and eating in public places.

Butterflies in the stomach – it is a spasm of muscles which are in the bowels. These muscles are used to push swallowed food down along the digestive system. They form something called a peristaltic wave. It has to be very precisely coordinated. Anxiety makes the peristaltic wave very chaotic, causing poorly digested food to become stuck in the bowels. After some time it ferments (like a compost in the garden) and starts releasing gases which have nowhere to go, causing us to feel bloated. This is how Irritable Bowel Syndrome starts.

Knot in the stomach – knot in the stomach is caused by tension of the diaphragm, which is a flat group of muscles dividing our body into to a chest and an abdomen. The diaphragm is the main muscle we use for breathing. When anxiety is located in the diaphragm it does not move properly we can feel short of breath, lightheaded, or faint. Extreme tension of the diaphragm is responsible for panic attacks.

.You can watch a clip below to understand it better.

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.This explanation gives my patients profound insight into the mechanism of anxiety.

The only thing left is to show them how they can relax the cramped group of muscles and dissolve their anxiety. This is when I lead my patients through the dissolving anxiety exercise you can find here.

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WHAT ELSE CAN IT DO?

The technique of dissolving body sensations can be used for various feelings that are making life more difficult. For example, I dissolved a body sensation related to the desire of having a good-looking car and I am now very happy with my 10-year-old Toyota. It is a very reliable car but it doesn’t look good anymore. I felt a growing need to buy a new one only for that reason. Then I realized that this feeling is just another feeling I can dissolve. I detected a sensation in my body related to wanting a new car and then successfully dissolved it. Now I am very happy with my Toyota and I do not need to work longer and harder to buy a new one.

I successfully dissolved so-called ‘Sunday evening blues’ and the frustration of having to return to work after holidays. I also dissolved the guilt of not coming to work when I felt really ill. It was stopping me from waiting for full recovery before returning to work, making my life more difficult.

The same technique can be used to stop worry about future or past events. When the present life is affected by a traumatic event from the past, like a car accident, and someone still feels upset about it, one can dissolve this feeling by using the exercise. The traumatic event will still be remembered but it will not trigger upsetting feelings anymore.

If someone feels anxious about something which is going to happen, like a coming exam or important presentation, one can dissolve this feeling using the exercise. This enhances confidence and readiness to perform.

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Consciousness

How To Have Your Own Personal Zen Master Around Anytime You Descend Into Stress

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CE Staff Writer 7 minute read

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

When you look at a true spiritual master, guru or yogi, one of the most remarkable things you might notice is that they don’t seem to experience stress. You might conclude that they arrive at this state through meditation, fasting, prayer, or other such disciplines. This is only partly true. Those spiritual practices can certainly contribute to stress reduction, but their ultimate effect is to support the maintenance of ONE KEY THOUGHT that spiritual masters hold in their minds (and bodies) with unfailing certainty.

Granted, this key thought is not easy to grasp, hold as truth, and then deeply embody within yourself. Throughout history spiritual masters have done their darndest to articulate it for those hoping for inner peace and harmony. The limitations of language, of all human languages, is woefully revealed in these attempts. But if you are ready, open, and genuinely seeking–an ‘aspirant’ as they say in yoga–then it becomes possible for a certain expression or turn of phrase to begin to activate your deeper inner knowledge of the state some call samadhi, enlightenment, Christ consciousness, or what I like to simply term presence. Are you ready?

Stress-Free Perception

In a true state of presence it is impossible to feel stress. Impossible. That is because stress is predicated on our seeing the world as dualistic. In a state of presence we embody a perception of singularity. The apperception of the world as whole, as unified, is truth unmasked.

From a perception of unity there is no past or future, there is only now. Note that human experience is only ever experienced through the now, past experiences were only ever experienced in the now, and the same will hold for our future experiences. Having the experience of presence helps us get a glimpse that time itself is a fabrication, a ‘program’ that helps our intentionally limited minds have a particularly lush and interesting kind of experience in the physical world.

How We Create Stress

But let’s get back to our everyday time-bound consciousness. For those of you who earnestly seek to dissolve your stress, and are open and willing to let go of anything your mind is clinging to in order to achieve it, I will try to explain the one key thought.

The experience of stress is the experience of the tension or dissonance between two things: how your world IS in any moment, and how you think it SHOULD BE. You create stress by carrying in your mind an image of how something in the NOW—yourself and others, the presence or absence of things, the weather—is NOT OK as it is. That puts you into a self-created adversarial relationship with the only point of contact you have with life.

Fortunately, your emotions alert you to this crazy confabulation, by making you aware of internal discomfort you label as STRESS. This STRESS is nothing more than an urgent signal from your higher intelligence to return to presence. But in a state of stress how can you possibly return to presence?

The One Key Thought Into Presence

You need to get into the habit of using your awareness of your own stress as a trigger to align yourself with this one key thought: everything is perfect as it is. It’s like having your own personal Zen master around any time you descend into stress asking you the well-worn koan, ‘What, in this moment, is lacking?’

It works. Trust me.

But it only works to the extent that you are willing to let go of the past (and future), along with all your judgments, grievances, ‘shoulds’, hopes, and fears that arise out of a dualistic perception. If you are truly willing and able to deeply hold this one key thought as ULTIMATE truth, above ALL other beliefs and opinions, you will start to feel it working.

Spiritual Context

If you have doubts about this one key thought representing ultimate truth, allow me to provide the spiritual context I work with in which the statement makes perfect sense.

A common thread at the heart of all great spiritual traditions is that we are all immortal souls who are currently having a ‘human’ experience. The circumstances of this life experience were chosen by us to facilitate our soul’s evolution. So any time you feel stress, you can see it as the universe prodding you to take an evolutionary step. That evolutionary step is to see the perfection in everything, if only for a moment at first. If you’re game, these brief moments of clarity add up quickly to a more permanent step up.

An Example

Let’s say for example you’re stuck in traffic, and realize you are going to be late for a meeting. Maybe it’s even your ‘fault’, because you left late or didn’t check your GPS. If you’re feeling stressed about it, realize it’s because things are not how your mind thinks they should be. Your mind thinks you ‘should’ be at the meeting on time–to get some important information, perhaps, or because your reputation as a reliable person is at stake, and you will be judged by others at the meeting in a way that may impact your future success.

Now, you can continue to be stressed in that moment (and subsequently for the entire drive to the office), or you can take ALL that very reasonable blather of ‘oughts’ and ‘shoulds’, roll it up in a ball, and drop it into your faux-ashtray. You will be able to do this if you reach for presence, if you remind yourself that there is only the present moment, and in the present moment you can choose to experience stress, or choose to experience peace. If you choose to be fully present you accept the present moment exactly as it is, realize there is nothing you can DO in that moment to remedy the so-called problem, and take the evolutionary step of seeing everything as perfect in this so-called ‘stressful’ moment. There is no problem now–and you will deal with the ‘problem’ when the ‘problem’ arises. You are simply in a car driving. You will then start to feel relief, and gain confidence that if you maintain presence through your arrival to the office, your late entry into the meeting, and your conversations afterwards, the ‘problem’ will never arise and you will literally breeze through the whole experience. You will be ‘ok’ with whatever happens.

Common Fears About Presence

FEAR: If I go into presence I will lose my mind.

Maybe-but only in a good way. Lol. Seriously, presence is not losing one’s mind, it is aligning one’s mind properly, with the timeless ‘true mind’ playing the role of master and the time-bound ‘false mind’ (ego) playing the role of servant, allowing the true mind to interface as it pleases with the time-governed physical world.

FEAR: If I go into presence I will stop trying to make my life better.

Perhaps. After all, what is better than presence, where everything is perfect? But there is more to it. You may be surprised to hear that a state of presence does not thwart action, it only thwarts reaction, fear-based, ego-sponsored drives to alleviate doubt, fear, insecurity, stress. In a state of presence the true mind decides on action, the best action for the situation, which is then carried out in perfect flow with the environment.

FEAR: It’s too hard to do and I’ll ultimately fail.

Failure is impossible. Patience, though, is required. The evolution of consciousness might seem like waves rising and falling on the shore, but the high water marks accumulate and eventually produce a stable higher state of awareness. Remembering and forgetting presence is natural, but with persistence it is remembered more often, maintained for a longer period of time, and eventually becomes part of your normal, base perception. With this as your base perception, then, it is truly possible for you to experience a life free of stress.

 

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

Click here to check out a sneak peek and learn more.

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Consciousness

Are We Well Adjusted To A Profoundly Sick Society?

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CE Staff Writer 1 minute read

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Following up on a classic quote from Jiddu Krishnamurti, what does it mean to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society?

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

Click here to check out a sneak peek and learn more.

Continue Reading

Consciousness

How To Ground Yourself: A Simple Yet Powerful Technique

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CE Staff Writer 2 minute read

Before you begin...

Coherent icon

Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Mental health challenges, depression and even physical illness, are all on the rise. All three are believed by emerging research to be linked to trauma.

Thankfully, nervous system health and trauma are becoming a big part of what people talk about as it seems people are looking to get to the root of these issues more now than ever before.

After coming to my own realization that I was traumatized from experiences I had, I began studying trauma to not only help myself but to see how I could further improve my own media work – which has been, in essence, trauma-informed, since 2009.

What I’ve come to feel is that trauma affects almost all of us in some way, while there is not much data to back that up, I truly believe this to be the case. Learning useful skills to work through that trauma is becoming important in order to take our health into our own hands.

In the video below, I talk a bit about how events going on in the world can make us feel anxious and worried, and how that affects our bodies, minds, and health. I also share a simple yet powerful technique for sensory grounding.

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

Click here to check out a sneak peek and learn more.

Continue Reading
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