A Word on Wellness:
Accept Anxiety, Whaaaat? Isn't the point to get rid of Anxiety? Hang in there with me... I will explain.
People who struggle with anxiety may develop a fear of (or aversion to) the anxiety itself. It's easy to become hypervigilant and cued into the most subtle physical changes in ones body. The heart rate increases, or maybe the body temperature increases, and the person may think "oh no, here we go again, I'm becoming anxious." There's a desperate desire to avoid this thing, but it's a trap.
Many people who struggle with anxiety make what's called a catastrophic misinterpretation when these anxiety symptoms show up. The slightest hint of one of these symptoms and the interpretation is "I'm going to lose control" or "I might have a panic attack, I'm going to become so anxious that my heart might explode." These are misinterpretations of the body's signals, and they are catastrophic because the more these thoughts and beliefs persist, the worse the symptoms become. Anyone who has had a panic attack can attest to how awful that experience is. Faced with the possibility that one might occur again, the temptation is to be on the look out for any signs in order to try and predict the onset and avoid it.
But the tricky thing about anxiety is that the more one tries to avoid, the more ensnared they become. This is true of the physical symptoms I'm describing above, but also true of the avoidance of anxious thoughts. One great metaphor for how this works is the Finger Trap metaphor. Remember that toy from when we were kids? The more you try to pull away, the tighter it gets... but move toward, accept and embrace... it loosens and you have your freedom.
There is a fear of losing control with anxiety. Of one's body, of one's thoughts. But, armed with the right tools and frameworks, it's possible to get control back by recognizing that experiencing anxiety is not, in and of itself, dangerous. Fighting it or avoiding it makes it worse, but if you are able to acknowledge - "This is what anxiety feels like in my body and that's ok. It's simply another sensation and I welcome it" - you are more in control and on the path to relief.
If this is a new concept, it can be very difficult to put into practice without some help. Keep in mind that I just summarized something that I usually spend many sessions assisting clients with. If you are struggling with anxiety, I hope this is a helpful way to think about it, but it is not a replacement for the support, structure and expertise that a therapist can provide.
I am very excited to be offering this group next month. This is a great fit for women in their late 20's and 30's who are struggling with anxiety and want to break the stigma by talking about it and working it out with the tools of yoga. Please pass this along to anyone who may benefit!