Anxiety & The Body
2 years ago, anxiety ruled my life. I was working a high stress, demanding job. In my day to day life I was either experiencing anxiety, trying to prevent it, or numbing out from it. It affected all of my relationships, causing arguments with my ever-patient husband, creating walls between myself and my community. I never wanted to connect with new people. It took too much effort and all my effort was focused on not feeling anxious.
Last year, when I started down the path to become a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist, I didn’t realize how much of my life had been consumed by this cycle. I was proud of myself for being such a hard worker. I told myself I had found ways to cope with all the stress and that somehow that coping made me a better person. I also knew that I had gotten off track from the direction I had wanted my life to take, and was fully ready to apply my same full-force drive to becoming a Yoga Therapist.
Eventually, I learned that this strategy was not working as well as I thought.
You see, I knew I had anxiety. It had been building for years. I knew it was related to my worklife. I knew I needed to do something about it. And with the career change and getting back to learning and growing in the direction my soul pointed- for a little while the anxiety dropped away entirely.
And then, bit by bit, it started to find its way back. Despite doing what I loved every day I was still experiencing this feeling that something wasn’t quite right.
In this time, I had learned a lot of tools to help people process their emotions through mindfulness and yoga practices. I had seen client after client come into a session with stress, limiting beliefs, negative self talk, anxiety, and leave with wisdom that they discovered within their own body. I knew these tools could help me unpack what was happening with my anxiety.
So my practice became (and continues to be), each time these sensations of anxiety arise, instead of rejecting them, wishing them away, or numbing them, I give them space. I sit with them, acknowledge them fully, and then dive into them.
It feels like there’s a weight in my chest, with the texture of sandpaper. My breath scrapes against this rough surface, seeking relief that cannot be found. That’s okay, breath. My heart beats faster than I would like (I want to relax!). That’s okay, heart. Keep being as you are.
Then I ask the all-important question: Why is this feeling coming up right now?
Each time the answer may be different, but the important part is that this wisdom isn’t coming from my analytical mind. That part of us is so good at giving very rational, well-reasoned explanations that might satisfy us for a moment. When we tune into the wisdom of our bodies, we find a Truth there that gets to the heart of the matter. We find our core drives, our impulses, our patterns, our coping mechanisms. Our bodies hold all of this and communicates them to us through sensations. When we listen, we get the opportunity to feel every part of our experience, and having gathered all the information, having accepted all of it as it is, we can ask- why?
What message is my body trying to communicate with me through these sensations?
Chances are, you clicked this link because you experience anxiety too. You are not alone. Take a moment right now to sit with yourself. Notice what sensations in your body are speaking the loudest, and get closer to them. Spend some time exploring them, feeling them fully, and offering them loving acceptance. Then get curious about why. Be open to any answer, even one that doesn’t feel rational, realistic, or reasonable. Let your body speak.
You get to decide what happens next.