letters // for when you're anxious

Fear is excitement without breath.
— Gay Hendricks

Dear one,

I invite you to begin to feed your anxiety monkey a banana with a few simple truths:

  • Your feelings are valid.
  • You are not alone.

We are wired to compartmentalize and try to figure out why things are the way they are, why we feel the way we do about situations in past, present, future. 

Our anxiety monkey loves control; it keeps us safe. It's natural for us to be anxious about any situation in which we don't have control over the outcome.

But this trigger is an opportunity for you to grow.

The quote at the top of this letter is an invitation to add breath in order to leave our anxious feelings at the place in our minds where the tide and shore converge. We drop the feelings there so the waves of our breath can give them space, carrying them off + away when we're ready.

We allow for this space when we climb down from the tree in our minds and become present. My favorite breath meditation is a lovely way to do that.

the practice // dirgha breath

Before we begin, think of your torso as a three-part space: Belly, ribs, chest. See the diaphragm contracting to create space for the lungs to expand. Picture the muscles between each rib contracting to pull the rib cage upward and outward with each inhale.

Find a comfortable seat.

Spine is elongated. If you're seated on the floor, allow your crossed legs to feel supported; pad them up with blankets or pillows if you so choose. Feet are flat on the floor if you're seated in a chair. 

Root down.

Picture a thread traveling down from your tailbone through the ground to the deep core of the earth. See the beginning of the thread weave itself through the vertebrae of your spine, out through the crown of your head, into the sky. 

You're connected. You are safe, supported, and whole.

Begin with hands on belly.

Think of your breath as being isolated just to this space to start. Press belly out with each inhale, pull belly in with each exhale. Take 10-15 breaths here. 

Move hands up to your lowest ribs.

Wrap your hands around your rib cage. Focus on filling this space with air first. Notice how the ribs splay with each breath in, and pull together with each breath out. Stay for 10-15 breaths.

Move hands up to your chest, fingertips on top of collarbones.

Shifting minds eye away from belly and away from ribs, notice what it's like to just breathe into your chest. Feel the palms lift as the very top of your lungs seem like the only things that are full. 10-15 breaths here as well.

Utilizing all three parts of your torso, move your hands alongside the breath in your body.

Start your next inhale in your belly with your hands there. As the ribs splay, move hands up to the rib cage. As the chest lifts, find your hands gracing your collarbones.

On your exhale, feel the chest soften underneath of your palms. Feel the ribs come back together as your hands shift there. And finally, notice belly drawing in as your hands travel to that space.

As you fill up, repeat the first mantra in the list below. As you empty out, repeat the second mantra. Om represents the sound of the universe, the eternal hum that makes up all energy. Shanti is peace; ananda, the kind of happiness that is divinely inspired. Om peace, joy. Om peace, bliss.

mantras:

I love and accept myself for feeling this way.
Om shanti ananda.
Om shanti ananda.
Om shanti ananda.