In the last blog I discussed how our subconscious programming causes us to lose connection with our true self. As a result we feel a host of limiting emotions including anxiety. In this blog we will find out how to overcome anxiety, heal our emotional baggage, transform our limiting beliefs and re-connect with our true self.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a mental and physical reaction to situations we perceive to be threatening. We know we have anxiety when we worry and ruminate excessively, breathing becomes shallow and fast, we may tremble, have a dry mouth, have a churning stomach, tension and soreness in the neck and shoulders, restlessness, fatigue and irritability.
The difference between fear and anxiety is that with fear there is a perceived imminent danger or threat. With anxiety however it’s our perception of a danger or threat we could encounter in the future that gets our body to automatically activate its fight or flight response. Anxiety is a more subtle but chronic state. Our heart rate accelerates, blood pressure increases and stress hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol are released for immediate action. Energy is redirected from our immune, digestive and other systems to our muscles.
This is all good if the fight or flight response is on for a little while, while we deal with the perceived danger or threat, but for many of us we don’t have the ability to turn it off and turn on the relaxation response. You may not even be consciously aware of the perceived threat and sometimes it’s as if there is there is nothing triggering it at all. The anxiety has become a habitual way of being. As a result we end up with increased blood pressure, digestive problems, chronic head-aches, backaches, sleep disorders and a host of other illnesses and diseases. Being in a constant state of stress and anxiety with our fight or flight response being activated creates other limiting emotions like anger, fear, jealousy, hatred, frustration and insecurity which can make us experience sadness and depression.
This situation of constantly feeling anxious, of having the fight or flight response in a constant state of being automatically activated can only lead to a downward spiral of thoughts and emotions. This leads to a deterioration of performance in all aspects of life and a deterioration of all relationships, including the most important relationship, the one with yourself.
I know these symptoms very well with my 25 odd years of experiencing anxiety and I know in the long term how it takes its toll on the body. In my case it was grinding my teeth, having blood in my poo’s and having my thyroid gland not operate correctly. Sure I could have worn my specially fitted mouth guard to protect my teeth, taken my prescribed medication to correct the thyroid gland and prayed that my bleeding didn’t get worse, but that would not have resolved the core of the problem.
Our Perceptions and Reactions
The keyword in our definition above is perception. To overcome our anxiety we need to become aware of and change our perceptions. Our perceptions are formed by the way we have experienced our life. The programs, beliefs, memories and emotional baggage we have formed become the way that we filter consciousness and perceive our life. Because these are often subconscious this is not an instant fix as we will find out later, however what we can instantly change is the way we react to our anxiety.
If we react to our anxiety with anger, frustration, hatred, insecurity, guilt, shame or despair we will feel even more anxious. We could try and do positive thinking or try to stop our negative thoughts however the more we try the more anxious we will feel, the more we will continue in the downward spiral.
Mindfulness is the Key
The answer is to develop and use mindfulness. Mindfulness is a gentle sustained awareness where you fully accept what is happening in the present moment in a non-judgmental way.
As we develop our mindfulness muscle it allows us to observe our anxiety or any other limiting emotion, like a silent witness. We don’t carry on the judgement and inner commentary we just observe with a sense of curiosity. When practising mindfulness during meditation, our awareness of our breath and awareness of the sensations in our body become like an anchor to the present moment. That’s because our breath and the sensations in our body are always in the present moment. Sure it may be challenging at first to maintain a state of mindfulness, however like anything else in your life that you have mastered, the more you practice the better you get. The better you get the better you feel. You have to be patient with yourself.
It’s only natural that we may get caught up in negative thoughts and emotions when we try to be mindful or meditate. With mindfulness we develop our awareness, we develop our ability to return back to the present moment. If we get caught up in any thoughts, images, inner voices or memories we acknowledge it and gently return our awareness to the present moment of our awareness of breath or awareness of body sensations. First we practice this during meditation and this allows us to practice mindfulness during everyday life.
We observe with a sense of openness. Everything is welcome, the things that you like and don’t like. There is no preference for nice sensations over painful ones. You become open to new possibilities. Most importantly you treat yourself with kindness. And when you fall back into old habits you remember these principals of mindfulness. Over time as you practice mindfulness during meditation, it becomes an accessible neural network, it becomes a new habit that you can take into your daily life. It allows you to change the relationship that you have with yourself and the universe. I will speak more about mindfulness in future blogs.
Changing Our Perceptions
The mindfulness work is like trimming the weeds of anxiety in your garden. Changing your perceptions allows you to pull out the weeds so the anxiety doesn’t grow back. By changing your perceptions I mean healing emotional baggage, transforming limiting beliefs / programs and re-connecting with your true self.
There are so many different modalities available out there to help us heal our emotional baggage, transform our limiting beliefs / programs and become whole or heal ourselves. So how do we know which one will be most effective for us? In my time I have tried hypnotherapy, neuro linguistic programming (NLP), meditation, equilibration, energy healing, sound healing, reiki, yoga, qigong, personal coaching, a healing method based on recapitulation, aspects of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and Hakomi therapy. Each of these healing modalities have their strengths and weaknesses and each individual may have a personal inclination towards one healing modality or another. The best outcome may in fact be to use a combination of these or any other available healing modality out there.
After experiencing these healing modalities over the last 6 years, I amazingly found that I was still holding many of my core limiting beliefs / programs and emotional baggage that I developed as a child. It was as if I was consciously aware of all my limited ways of being, but I hadn’t fully understood them at an emotional level and a deep subconscious level. This was until I experienced Hakomi therapy which is a mindful somatic (body-centered) form of psychotherapy. Hakomi was the only healing modality that made me feel safe to open up, safe to gain the cooperation of my subconscious. I instantly realized the power of this healing modality and knew this was the path to my transformation and how I would help others.
In mindful somatic psychotherapy we work with mindfulness to be able to study our self. We use information stored in the body to give us access to the subconscious programs and beliefs that run our life. As we quieten down the internal noise and focus on inner experience, this gives us access to all the subtle signals happening in our bodies which unlocks our subconscious programming and emotional baggage. It’s quite different to talk therapy which is when you talk about emotions, relationships, the past and anything else with your counselor, coach or therapist. Talk therapy is conversational and though it can be helpful to share experiences and express emotion, from my experience it doesn’t get to the core of what is happening.
For me I have found the most effective healing modalities to be a combination of mindful somatic psychotherapy, meditation, yoga and martial arts. Martial arts has to be practiced in a playful, non-competitive way with people you respect and trust. That’s why I train with James Woodfield-Jones and the crew at Sustainable Jiujitsu. When your chosen healing modalities are combined with supportive relationships, healthy food, exercise, taking action towards your goals and dreams and some light hearted fun and laughs, the end result is major transformation, clarity and the ability to start taking action towards creating your life the way you want it to be, without anxiety restraining your life. Feel free to leave any comments or questions and I will hopefully connect with you again during my next blog where we will look into self sabotage and addictions.
Author: GABRIEL PERGAMALIS
About Gabriel Pergamalis
Gabriel Pergamalis is a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Self-Mastery Coach at the Perth Hills Mindfulness Space. He is passionate about helping people empower themselves to quieten their mind, tame their emotions and transform their limiting beliefs. He understands how the mind works, especially the influence of the subconscious mind. He is constantly upgrading his level of training to bring his clients the most simple, yet effective techniques to develop mindfulness, connect with their true self and overcome conditioning of the subconscious mind.
For more information on Gabriel’s “Know Thyself Program” visit the SELF MASTERY COACHING PAGE.
You can download Chapter 1 of the program for free including a 30 minute guided mindfulness meditation by Gabriel.