Do you tend to think up disasters or worst case scenarios? Are you are always on edge? Do you try and anticipate the moves and thoughts of everyone around you? Do you often think something is wrong or off but you just can’t put your finger on what it is? Do you spend more time worrying about the future or thinking about past mistakes and what you should have done instead of leaning into the present moment? It’s exhausting, isn’t it!?
Here’s the thing. You are hardwired to respond to fear & stress. In the short term, the release of cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine can give you the extra boost of energy you need to get clear of danger. You may have even heard about this… Back in our cavemen/cavewomen days, the fight-or-flight model was essential. This prevented you from becoming dinner for your saber tooth tiger pals. However, long-term exposure to fear and anxiety wreaks havoc on your body and mind. Adrenaline causes your heart to beat faster and increases your blood pressure. Your digestive system slows so as to conserve energy. AND if you don’t fight or run, the hormones continue to flood your body, keeping you in hypervigilant mode.
Vitarka Badhane Pratipaksa Bhavanam.~ When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite (positive) ones should be thought of. This is pratipaksha bhavana. ~Sutra II.33
Two of the great yoga gurus of this time, Swami Satchidananda & B.K.S. Iyengar offer two different approaches to sutra II.33. Satchidananda recommends cultivating the opposite thought. For example, if you are anxious, think confidence or peace. Iyengar recommends that you journey to the root of the cause of your anxiety. Were you anxious as a child? Why? Is it part of your personality or did you learn this behavior through home or school? And still, other authors suggest that you think of the outcome. Where will your fear or worst case scenario take you? How much suffering will it create?
Does one method call more to you than the others? Which method is more likely to pull you back to your path once you’ve been triggered? When you are full of fear, can you think of someone you love to help calm you down? When you are hooked, can you sit with the emotion, without reacting, and begin to trace it to its source? Or does thinking about the loss or worst case scenario help you regain your composure?
Do you live in your head? Do you constantly play out one scenario after another or replay conversations only to change what you would say, in your favor? If you said yes, welcome to my world:) Are you an intuitive person? Are you conscientious of different body aches or gut feelings that come along? If you said no to the last couple of questions, know that you are not alone. Typically, if you are a worrier or fret with anxiety, you tend to live in your head. One of the most essential techniques you can learn is how to sink into your body.
Learning to inhabit your body helps you stay in the present moment. Why is that important? It prevents you from anticipating or worrying about a future that has yet to unravel. It also helps minimize the tendency to replay the past, which you know isn’t beneficial or possible unless you have a time machine;)
Two of my absolute favorite techniques for dropping out of mind into heart are stepping onto my yoga mat and getting out into nature. Any type of body work, such as massage, reiki, walking or running can also be instrumental in helping you begin to cope with your anxiety and stay present to each moment as it unfolds.
This is quickly becoming one of my favorite methods of healing. Crystals work on an energetic & scientific level through physics. According to physics, ” entropy is a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system.” In other words, it is a gradual decline into disorder. For example, your body breaks down and decays. Crystals resist the process of entropy because of their geometric molecular patterns.
Another law of physics, the law of resonance occurs “when a vibrating system or external force drives another system to oscillate with greater amplitude at a specific preferential frequency.” Crystals, because they resist entropy, entrain, or synchronize, your energetic vibrations to that of the crystal. In other words, by carrying a crystal in your pocket, you can actually begin to vibrate at the same energetic level as the crystal, thereby releasing your worry and anxiety.
A few recommended crystals that can help with anxiety:
Dr. Edward Bach was a British physician known for developing a range of homeopathic remedies, called the Bach Flower Remedies. He developed 38 flower remedies that help “correct emotional imbalances where negative emotions are replaced with positive.” Bach categorized people into 7 different groups based on their reactions to illness. The 7 groups were fear, uncertainty, loneliness, oversensitivity, lack of interest in present circumstances, despondency, and over-concern for others.
The flower essences also work on an energetic level by “gently restoring the balance between mind and body by casting out negative emotions such as fear… which interfere with the equilibrium of the being as a whole.”
A few recommended flower essences that can help with anxiety:
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils taken from plants for healing purposes. The two most common uses of essential oils include inhaling the oils or putting them on topically. One of the reasons aromatherapy is said to be effective is because your sense of smell stimulates your limbic system, which controls your emotions. The limbic system is also partially responsible for your fight-or-flight response (remember the saber tooth tiger pal from earlier in the post?). When you inhale a calming essential oil, such as lavender, the limbic system sends neurochemicals throughout the body to relax and calm down.
(Please seek expert advise if you are pregnant or have a medical condition if using essential oils for the first time).
A few recommended essential oils that can help with anxiety:
I would love to hear, in the comments below, which technique resonated the most with you. Is there one that you believe could help alleviate your anxiety?
Do you suffer from Inner Conflict Syndrome? There is a part of you that feels you “should” be doing things one way and another part of you that wants to do things your way? If you can relate, keep reading as there are several ways you can catch Inner Conflict Syndrome.
The first is being sold the belief, long ago, that if you sacrifice now, you will be rewarded later. And sacrifice you have. It started innocently… being the good girl and following the rules… letting your friends choose which game to play… learning that confrontation will get you into trouble… choosing a college major that would make your parents proud… letting everyone else make the big decisions, like which movie to see, music to listen to, dinner location to eat at (you get the point!). You suffer from not being able to make clear decisions and fear of disappointing those around you.
Another way to catch Inner Conflict Syndrome is being given a black and white lens in which to view your world. This old held belief only allows you to experience things as either good or bad, pass or fail, win or lose. There are no 50 shades of grey with this viewpoint, girlfriend, just black or white. Here you suffer from heart palpitating anxiety (aka increased doom & gloom thoughts), always projecting the worst case scenario in your head and fear of failure.
The final way to catch Inner Conflict Syndrome is buying into the belief that, somehow, you are damaged. This one causes the most pain as nothing you do will ever be enough. You find yourself moving through life trying to hide this secret. You may suffer from lower self-esteem because you don’t trust in your intrinsic worth and perfectionism, the only way you can win love & approval back is by becoming perfect.
Now that you know how to catch Inner Conflict Syndrome, let’s explore your symptoms. Although rare, you may be a carrier of the i-call-bull-shit gene in which from a young age, you challenged these beliefs and chose not to believe in them. Only 1% of the population is a carrier. More than likely, the subtle hints of Inner Conflict Syndrome began to emerge, for you, in your younger years- random outbursts of anger that seemed to come from nowhere… random thoughts that popped into your head- “this isn’t fair” or “this is wrong”…
The symptoms magnify in your later years when you can no longer suppress the feeling that something is missing, off or that you are supposed to be doing more than you are and you begin to question the beliefs you have bought into… you realize that perfectionism is unattainable and the only thing that you have received over the years trying is frustration, sadness and pain and you give yourself permission to make mistakes… the anxiety is preventing you from doing things that you would really enjoy and you are finally tired of saying no or living from a false sense of safety.
Integration will help you move away from full-blown Inner Conflict Syndrome and begin to experience wholeness, inner peace and freedom.
The first step towards integration is to meet yourself with love and compassion. You have been waging war with yourself for years. You have essentially told yourself that your needs are not important in order to hold sacrifice as a virtue. As you begin to share the same love that you so freely give to those around you, begin by doing one thing, just for you, each day.
The second step to moving towards integration and wholeness is to become more clear in your decisions. Learn to say no. Decide where you will have dinner or meet for tea. Come up with several solutions, instead of looking things through the black and white lens.
The third step is to begin to do things that challenge your fear and anxiety. Start living life on your terms. Be willing to disappoint others in order to honor your own truth. The first few times are the hardest. However, as you choose yourself, your self-esteem takes a boost, you learn to say no from a place of love and sincerity. People respect you more because you are coming from integrity, not obligation, gratitude not resentment.
These are a few steps to moving away from Inner Conflict Syndrome towards wholeness and integration. How or when did you catch Inner Conflict Syndrome? Which practices do you use to move towards freedom & integration? Let me know in the comments below!
I am honored and thrilled to introduce you to February’s Dharma Blazer, Reshma Thakkar. Reshma was featured in Oprah Winfrey’s groundbreaking Belief Series, which explored “humankind’s ongoing search to connect with something greater than ourselves.” Her light, joy and compassion are contagious and the way she moves through the world is both inspiring and beautiful!
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. ~Mahatma Gandhi
Reshma’s journey began in Southwest Michigan, half a world away from the rich culture and deep-seated traditions of India. Despite the distance, her heritage shaped her personality and colored her life, engraining a deep appreciation for the world and people around her.
Throughout her education and career, including a degree in Health Administration and a high-powered position as an IT consultant, Reshma continued to pursue her love of exploration. To-date, she has visited over 40 foreign countries, and embarks on new adventures as often as possible.
It was along this journey that Reshma was summoned with an inexplicable, deep desire to return to her homeland, India for the Kumbh Mela. She made the bold decision to take a three month sabbatical from her successful career to journey overseas alone. What followed would eventually lead to her being featured on the groundbreaking television event, Belief, produced by Oprah Winfrey.
Reshma has since been featured on OWN, MSNBC, Yahoo, The Huffington Post, Variety, and other major publications. She has utilized this opportunity to launch the Belief Explorer Quest with featured guests such as Mastin Kipp, Don Miguel Ruiz, Arielle Ford, Marianne Williamson, Danielle LaPorte, and more. Reshma sites the Belief Explorer Quest as one of her greatest accomplishments, helping to replicate her journey of wonder and self discovery in the lives of thousands of people across the world.
She has also since founded Made with a Purpose, a social enterprise working to provide girls and women in India with empowerment, education, and economic stability.
I am beyond honored to introduce you to Paula. Paula’s interview is raw, authentic, honest and beautiful in her ability to stay present to all that’s come up in the last 5 years since losing her oldest son. Her grace, wisdom and compassion brought me to tears. What an amazing soul!
How are you following your life path (dharma)?
By living out one of my favorite Rumi quotes – “The wound is where the lights enters” I am following my dharma. My life path was illuminated through a deep, gashing wound that tore away everything I believed to be true about the order of the universe. The unexpected death of my oldest son began by feeling like the deepest, most primal wound a woman could endure – that of losing a child.
Svadhistana Chakra (Sacral Chakra)
Location: Lower abdomen to navel area
Anatomy: Reproductive organs and glands; lymphatic system; deep muscles in pelvis; iliopsoas; piriformis; gluteal muscles
Association: Emotions, sexuality
Energy connection to the physical body: Sexual organs, large intestine, lower vertebrae, pelvis, hip area, appendix and bladder
Energy connection to the emotional/mental body: Resonates our need for relationships with other people and our need to control to some extend the dynamics of our physical environment
Symbolic/perceptual connection: The energy in this chakra enables us to generate a sense of personal identity and protective psychological boundaries
Primary fears: Fears of loss of control, or being controlled by another
Primary strengths: The ability and stamina to survive financially and physically on one’s own and to defend and protect oneself; the fight or flight instinct; the ability to take risks; the resilience to recover from loss
Imagery: Moon/lunar energy; ocean; flow of water
Affirmations: I surrender and flow with ease in my life; It is safe to express my creativity and passion; I am worthy of receiving abundance & prosperity; I trust in the process of life
Bija: VAM (upper teeth on lower lip, pulling back closing lips for MMM vibration)
Yoga Poses: Hip Openers like Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle) & Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon); Sun Salutations as they create a fluid moving practice
It is in the second chakra that we begin to explore our emotions, sexuality, pleasure, and abundance. The second chakra provides the fertile ground for us to seed our deepest desires, get in touch with our passions, and express our creativity. The first chakra provides the stability and security we need to explore our emotions. With our fundamental needs being met in the first chakra (ideally:), we can now turn towards pleasure and our well-being in the second. . According to Ambika Wauters, “how much pleasure we allow ourselves is an indication of how we value ourselves and how connected we are to our core… When we allow pleasure into our lives it helps us feel good about ourselves.” Symbolically we move from the dense thick earth towards the more fluid movement of water and encounter the concept of change.
The greatest challenges in working with the second chakra include an inability to process emotions and a fear of change. These could be brought with us from our childhood. If we were taught to “suck it up” or not to express emotions or if change is overwhelming to us, we need to visit the second chakra. Learning how to let go and flow is an essential component to the second chakra. Being able to set healthy boundaries and express our needs is a positive way to get in touch with our emotions.
Some questions you can begin to ask yourself: What is my work to play ratio? What kinds of things do I like to do for pleasure? How often do I do them? Do I believe I am a creative person? Why or why not? Do I take care of myself on a regular basis (eating good foods, exercise, getting enough rest, etc.)?
Incorporating the Sacral Chakra into Our Daily Life
What are some other ways that you incorporate the sacral chakra into your daily life?