Saturday, September 22, 2012

More on Stress. And on Practicing the Opposite.

I don’t buy magazines often these days, and when I do they tend to be either fashion - or interior design magazines. But yesterday I was at the airport waiting for a delayed flight so I decided to visit the airport bookstore. I wanted to try something new so I grabbed a copy of the Yoga Journal. If I'd had a highlighter I think I might have highlighted the whole magazine – it’s just so in line with what I have been thinking lately. Perhaps it is true what some say, that when you are open, you’ll find that the answers you need are right in front of you….:)

In particular, there was a wonderful article titled "Untangling Anxiety" - written by Sally Kempton, a teacher of meditation and yoga philosophy.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:
Anxiety can be a powerful teacher. It can show you were you’re hiding stress or holding unprocessed emotions. It might even remind you that there’s something you need to take care of. Most important, anxiety often signals the need for growth or for some inner shift.
It’s only when you are willing to bring consciousness to your anxiety – to pay attention to the bodily sensations it brings, the thoughts that go along with it, and the situations that trigger it – that you can begin to learn from it.

…many of us tent to confuse anxiety with diligence and believe that our anxiety helps keep us safe.
One day, perhaps, you might notice that what you have perceived as anxiety is, at its core, just pure energy. This energy can be experienced as anxiety, but it can also be experienced as excitement or a feeling of being keyed up and ready for action. It can signal the necessary tension, the inner fire, that accompanies growth.
The more you can be present with that tension and work with it-even, at times, allowing it to be there without resisting it-the more your anxiety can melt into its essence.
All of our energies, even the negative ones that can be so painful and limiting, have at their core the pure energy of life.
As we resolve the issues that lock anxiety into the body and as we release the emotions and mental habits that create so much of our suffering, something radical happens. These primal negative emotions, centered in the amygdala and brainstem, start to show us their other face. They point us to the energy that yoga calls shakti-the leaping, dancing energy that can make any moment a creative moment and any experience a potential doorway to joy.
In the article the authors talks about six steps to ease anxiety (or any negative feeling you might experience):

1. Body: where is tension showing up in the body?
2. Heart: Focus on the heart, the breath and energy coming in and out of your chest.
3. Question: What about my situation is contributing to the anxiety?
4. Thoughts: Bring awareness to the thoughts running through your mind, ask yourself: can I let go of that?
5. Feelings: Tune into your emotions, and name your feelings.
6. Opposite: Summon up a feeling of warmth and pleasure. Bring something good to your heart. The Yoga Sutra calls this pratipaksha bhavana, or “practicing the opposite”- countering a negative feeling with a positive one.

Cliches are clichés for a reason, and reading on spirituality and self-help you often come across the same ideas again and again. I was happy to see how the message in this article lined up with the parenting book I am currently reading (How to Talks so Kids Will Listen...And Listen so Kids Will Talk). The book recommends dealing with your children's negative feelings in the following steps: 1. Listen, 2. Acknowledge (I can understand you’re upset that I forgot your favorite doll at home), 3. Name the Feeling (You must really miss her, I know how much you care for that doll), 4. Fantasy (Should we put on our fairy wings, fly home and get your doll???).

It's funny how I wasn't sure about that last step, until I read the article on anxiety. Then it totally made sense. Practicing the Opposite, countering negative feeling with a positive one. I love that!

I now have a post-it sticker on my desk that says: 1. body, 2. heart, 3. question, 4. thoughts, 5. feelings, 6. opposite. I also have a post it sticker at home that says: 1. Listen, 2. Acknowledge, 3. Name, 4. Fantasy. I'll be practicing this for the next couple of days, to see how it works:)

No comments:

Post a Comment