Are you afraid? Is fear lurking at the edge of your bed ready to latch on when your feet hit the floor? Does it ride on your back all day until you finally fall exhausted into a fitful sleep? It doesn’t need to be the burden we allow it to be. In its best incarnation fear is a gift.
For regular readers you are already anticipating that my first step suggestion for overcoming fear and anxiety is breathing. Before you roll out of bed, after the startle response of the alarm clams, stop and appreciate the stillness of your body. These few moments are a gift in the present and a seed for the future. After you are settled breathe in deeply through your nose and blow out deeply through your mouth. If you are like most people, you have probably just spent 6-10 hours in a shallow breathing state and this first breath begins a cleansing.
Take another slow inhalation and at the top of the breath hold it for just 2 seconds and then release it fully through your mouth. Gauge your mood and mindset and if you are ready slowly roll out of bed and to your feet. Allow yourself the pleasure of finding stability for today by grounding yourself through your feet. Slowly stretch upwards and on another inhale lengthen your spine by lifting your head as if on a string. Breathe in deeply for the count of 7, hold for 4, exhale for 7. Don’t rush, enjoy the inspiration and the slight tension of holding the top of the breath. Repeat 7 times and then slowly step into your day. Remember to breathe deeply throughout the day and when you feel fear crawling up your back, give him a shake and inhale again.
Fear will try to creep in. Or at least what we now call fear. Real fear is the gift that has kept our species alive for millennia. The intuition that something is wrong or something is about to happen that most often we suppress because we are socialized to ignore it. That fear, the immediate recognition that the person on the elevator when the doors open poses a potential threat. Let that gift guide you and let the doors close without excuse and catch the next car. If we learn to trust that gift of fear it will help suppress the other unhealthy kind.
If I am facing a situation that is causing some dread, I take some time (and yes breathe) and visualize the event happening in a positive way with a positive outcome. It doesn’t always happen the way I imagined (but it has) but I don’t go into the moment a bundle of anxiousness. It after all is your imagination that is creating a less pleasant outcome and causing the uneasiness to grow. Turn your thoughts to a better future and you can help create it for yourself.
The practice of shunning unhealthy fear is relentless and incremental. We need to do it every day and as we become more accomplished we can accomplish even more.