Does it feel like anxiety controls and limits you? Do you want to get out, do new things, meet new people, live your life to the fullest, but fear holds you back? Do you feel frozen by constricting bands of fear? If you do, know that anxiety doesn’t need to limit your life; you can free yourself.
Are you thinking that I don’t really know what I’m talking about — that I don’t really understand what it’s like to live with anxiety? I do. I have lived with anxiety every day for years. I have allowed fear to limit me, and I have felt completely immobilized by recurring anxiety in my life, but I am learning to move into and through it, rather than allowing it to control me. I want to share with you what the past few months have taught me about how to free myself from fear’s limiting bonds.
- Breathe into the fear: When I feel anxiety rising within me — when my chest tightens and my heart starts to race — I pause and focus on breathing slowly and mindfully as the feeling washes through me. If I try to resist or escape anxiety, or if I feed into it, its hold tightens on me and I am pulled into the sucking whirlpool of panic; when I allow and breathe into the feeling, it releases and lessens its hold until it is gone completely. To help you focus on breathing instead of the fear that is rising within you, slowly count to three, four, or five (whatever works for you) as you breathe in and then to the same slow count as you breathe out. Try to extend the length of time between each count so that your breathing becomes slower and deeper. It is your slow, measured focus on the intake and release of your breath that will help to settle you so that you don’t get pulled into the shallow breathing that can lead to panic. In time, you will be able to let the counting go and focus on your breath.
- Observe the rise and fall of fear’s energy: When fear rises, its intense energy feels like it is going to take you over. If you feed into it, it can take your breath away, make your heart feel like it’s going to burst through your chest, and make your head feel like it’s going to explode. Instead of allowing it to take me over, I am learning to be the observer and to watch it. Rather than feeding into the pull of its energy, try watching it. Observe how the intensity builds to its strongest pull. Keep observing and see how it is like an ocean wave that rises and falls. The intensity builds, builds, builds until it peaks and then it decreases… just like waves of water. When I watch the energy and allow it to wash through me, it subsides and I remain intact and whole… every single time.
- Explore who you really are: The most important work that I have done to free myself from my fears has been to explore my true identity — beyond the roles I fill and the work I do. When I identified completely with how I presented myself to, and was perceived by, the outer physical world, I had no centre, no way to ground myself. Because of that, I looked for my worth in what I experienced in the world; that provided no stability because I wasn’t rooted within myself. I felt completely vulnerable, which fed into feelings of worry and anxiety. It has been my inner journey to finding my spiritual centre that has provided the “roots” I longed to find in the outer world. Those “roots” provide the security and stability that I need to be able to move in the world with inner strength and knowing.
- Trust that all you need will come to you when you open to your true Source: I have written a lot about the immobilizing fear that gripped me as I moved into a period of major change in my life during the past year. That experience provided an incredible opportunity for transformative learning. I needed to learn to get out of my head, to get out of my own way, and to allow my Higher Power to guide me. I have learned over a period of months that when I ask for guidance and open to it, all that I need to know flows through me. As I have opened to the guidance of my higher Self, to Holy Spirit, to the Divine, to God within me, I have learned to trust that all I need will be given me in the moment that I ask and am willing to receive.
As I have learned to observe my fears and to breathe into them, they pass right through me. They have proven to be nothing — just energy that I need to release. And as I have learned to trust that guidance is always there for me and all that I need flows through me, anxiety is no longer controlling my life. When I got out of my head and realized that I didn’t need the answers or to figure everything out on my own, I was finally able to open to the true strength and knowing that come from my higher Self. And with that comes freedom… freedom to be and express myself in the world. You can experience the same freedom; all it takes is your willingness to try. Namaste.