For this, which is the first blog entry, I have decided to focus my attention onto a couples and difficult emotion, one which most people experience at some point in their life: ANXIETY. A dear friend has recently written the following about it:
It’s easy for anxiety to become an acceptable way of life .....
There was so much truth in these words that I started to think more in depth about them. There is almost always an emotional difficulty, something that is unbearable, behind the symptoms that motivate people to seek therapy, and anxiety is undoubtedly one of the main reasons for people to seek help and support. Palpitations, panic attacks, shortness of breath, brain fog, tight shoulders and neck, short temper, perceived unjustified fears and seeking comfort in addictive compulsive behaviours are only some of the most common symptoms of anxiety. Nowadays many people are not only feeling anxiety linked to their personal stories, but also the collective anxiety linked to the current situation all around us (Cathy Skipper). Often anxiety does not even seem to have an identifiable single source, it just engulfs us, as if coming from nowhere, and its origin is almost always lost in the mist of our past experiences.
It is very likely that at some point in our past, if unpredictability was the norm, anxiety became an adaptation strategy, keeping us on "our toes" as we tried to predict the next difficulty. This state of hyper-vigilance and overwhelm can easily go into overdrive meaning that we are left with a nervous system incapable of switching back towards self regulation and calm. The most common behaviour when feeling anxiety is to ignore it, pretend it is not there as we progressively seek to distract ourselves from the often very uncomfortable sensations which surge like a tide within us. Although this may well work in the short term it is certainly not a long-term healthy solution because "what we resist, persists" (a sentence I heard for the first time during the 'Aromatherapy for trauma and addiction' workshop with Cathy Skipper and Florian Birkmayer of AromaGnosis). This is the reason why recently I have started asking clients to stay with their feelings of anxiety, however uncomfortable they may be, in order to bring awareness into them. Given that where awareness goes, energy flows!! this is the premise for change.
Provided you are in a safe place (i.e.: not driving your car or walking down a busy street) try this exercise when you next sense anxiety arising inside you. Bring your focus on how you experience anxiety. How does it feel in your body, in your emotions, in your spirit and your thoughts? Allow anxiety to exist in its own right, without judging it. You may even ask it silently when was it the first time you felt this way? You may gain a glimpse of the reason why it is there in the first place, and with this new awareness you may even recognise that it no longer serves any purpose. You may thank it for keeping you "alive" when it mattered and look at it with a sense of gratitude and feel compassion for your vulnerable self.
The fundamental thing in this practice is to dis-identify from the sensations, recognising that you are only experiencing anxiety, a feeling that will pass, rather than being anxiety itself. When you do this exercise regularly, you will find that it will become progressively easier to stay with anxiety and that it will begin to lose its hold on you. I find that when I try this exercise with clients it helps to have an oil that can tone down the often extreme feelings, creating a sense of safety and calm. Among the oils that I would recommend are Lavender, well known for its calming action, or Sweet Marjoram, for its very strong effect on the heart. One of my current favourites is Vetiver, which to me feels like a hug with a soft blanket and immediately takes me to a place of wellbeing in my body, or Helichrysum (also known as Immortelle) for its ability of working in depth and getting things moving. Its aroma feels like being under a hot sun which cleanses all.
Like with crystals, I believe it is best to find an oil that works for you, the one that instantly grounds you into a place of comfort and well-being, and the rest will follow. Until next....