Ask the experts: Ease worry and embrace life
by Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on July 22, 2014. Posted with permission.
Worry is like dancing with a bear. The music isn’t over until the bear says so.
Are you convinced that events from your past are going to emerge from the shadows and bludgeon you? Or, are you so mired in worst case scenarios that the future appears overrun with dragons? Do you believe enemies are conspiring to plot your demise?
You’re irrational and perhaps self-absorbed.
Most worry hovers in three basic life categories: finances, interpersonal relationships and health. Worry isn’t always bad, and it can be a powerful signal for action.
But worry is pathological when it spirals into obsession that drowns out all other thoughts. You’re awake all night stuffing your fist in your mouth while the hamster wheel spins in overdrive.
Worry is the number one indicator that you are not living in the present moment.
Not only can obsessive worry invite stress-related illness, but if you are so fixated on negative outcomes, you’ll wind up pulling them to you. Where attention goes, energy flows.
But stopping obsessive worry is not easy. It takes deliberate, focused yet gentle action to end the spiral.
Here’s some help from the experts.
Madeline Ebelini, Founder and Managing Member, Integrative Mindfulness, Bonita Springs, FL
Chronic worry is a mind-body pattern of repetitive thinking and accompanying body sensations. It signals that an underlying emotion needs attention. The typical reaction is to try to resist, escape or suppress the unpleasant feelings. This rarely works. The more we engage in resistance, the stronger and more entrenched the pattern of worry can become, fueling even more worried thinking because the underlying emotion is being ignored.
One way to work with worry is to notice the worried thoughts the moment they appear without becoming drawn into their content. Regular meditation strengthens our ability to notice and see thoughts as the transitory mental events they are. Rather than believing the thoughts or becoming drawn into the content of the worry, focus compassionate attention on the physical sensations in the body. Where do you experience worry in your body? Also, anchoring your attention in the simple feeling of the breath flowing in and out can be a great support here as you begin to attend to the body sensations.
To start, when you notice worried thoughts, give the mind one thing to pay attention to that’s actually happening in the present moment like the breath or body sensations. This can soothe the mind and also help break the automatic pattern of worry.
As you continue to practice, your mindful attention and compassion grow, and the true nature of the emotion fueling this cycle of worry can surface. Then you can begin to work with it.
Hold yourself with compassion. Emotions are natural human experiences. They give us valuable information if we can just be receptive to their messages.
For more information visit www.integrativemindfulness.net.
Katie Romano Griffin, Life Coach and Hypnotherapist, Ft. Myers, FL
Worry can be a catalyst for action or a self-defeating mechanism. Gay Hendricks, author of “The Big Leap,” invites worriers to test their worries by asking two questions. First, can what you’re worrying about cause immediate damage to your person or property? If the answer is yes, then ask yourself if there is anything you can do right now.
I love this test because if the answer is yes to both questions, you can take appropriate action. If the answer is no to either question, the worries may be related to a self-defeating thought process which can be broken through a regular practice of mindfulness or by employing a trigger phrase embedded during hypnosis.
In my practice I empower people with a word or phrase they can use to activate their relaxation responses. This immediately quiets their minds. The embedded suggestion gains strength the more it is used and crowds out the old patterns of self-defeating stress created through unfounded worries.
“Relax” and “I am peace” are examples of trigger phrases I have used with clients. I have them anchor the phrase first thing in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening by paying attention to their breathing and using the trigger phrase as a mantra. They can activate the phrases at any time during the day by taking a deep breath and thinking of the phrase just once and repeating it silently for extra benefit.
For more information, visit www.KatieRomanoGriffin.com.
Tess Chiodo, owner of Joyful Yoga and certified teacher of Primordial Sound Meditation, Bonita Springs, FL
As a champion worrier, I’m often accused of going to my Stephen King Mind. Whenever we have a problem, in this case obsessing and worrying about anything, including obsessively worrying about obsessively worrying, we experience the symptoms of contracted awareness. This state negatively affects our perceptions, expectations, assumptions, beliefs, feelings, moods and health. In such instances of Vata imbalance, I launch my spin on Deepak Chopra’s S.T.O.P method to help me return to serenity.
S: Stop, close your eyes and go to a level of feeling. Where and what do you feel? Remember that we call emotions feelings because we feel them in the body.
T: Take three deep breaths. Replenish oxygen so you can move from fight/flight to restful awareness, positively affecting every system in the body-mind. Think of and remember a feeling of love, and this will also transform your physiology.
O: Observe the sensations in the body again, and intentionally stoke a feeling of gratitude for the miracle that it is.
P: Proceed in any activity with kindness, love and compassion for self and others.
The two minutes spent on S.T.O.P, moving from contracted awareness to expanded awareness, could alter your day, your month, even your life. It has in mine.
Of course, learning to meditate, consistently and daily, is the simplest, most successful method known to heal and balance your psyche, to release all unwanted experiences. You become aware that you are free, and you do control your body-mind.
For more information, visit www.JoyfulYoga.com.