Audrey Jolly Therapy

"Befriending" Fear

Posted Jul 22nd, 2016 in Mental Health, Depression, Shame

Ruth Buczynski at NICABM presents Ron Siegel, PsyD on managing anxiety and fear through mindfulness practices. I thought this was worth sharing.

Some degree of fear and anxiety is inevitable in life. But for some people, these emotions can become truly debilitating, keeping them trapped in cycles that can lead to depression and  chronic pain. So how can we better manage fear and anxiety when they come up?

One of the first things we notice when we pick up mindfulness practice is how often we have frightened thoughts about the future.

We over think the future — hoping for pleasure and dreading pain.

Mark Twain described this brilliantly near the end of his life when he wrote, “I’m an old man now. I’ve lived a long and difficult life filled with so many misfortunes, most of which never happened.”

So it’s not surprising that one of the ways mindfulness practice can help us with anxiety is simply by training the brain and mind to bring attention to the present moment.

Since for many of us, the present moment is usually pretty safe, doing this can really help cut anxiety.

 Simple Practice You Can Use to Befriend Fear and Anxiety

Start by bringing attention to some sensation in the body – perhaps the breath or another object of attention. Continue gently returning the attention to this object for a few minutes.

Next, see if you can locate some anxiety within the body. Just notice how it feels.

If you can’t find any anxiety, generate a scary thought or an image to help conjure it up. We want to get the anxiety going strongly enough to be able to practice feeling it, but not to be overwhelming.

Once you’ve got some anxiety going, just breathe, and feel it. Notice how it feels throughout the body. Greet it like an old friend, “Oh I know you, you’re my old pal fear. You’ve visited me on so many occasions. Welcome back.”

If the sensation of anxiety starts to fade, do whatever you need to do to bring it back. Keep breathing, and keep practicing just welcoming and feeling the fear.

I don't believe all practices work with all individuals so if you need some help customizing your approach to managing your specific set of symptoms re: anxiety and fear, I would be happy to help. 


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