“Put your mind in your feet, get your body in the beat” 5 Rhythms teacher and Urban Shaman Gabrielle Roth has taught this lesson to thousands. It is a grand introduction to the notion of “centering in your physiology (CIYP).
Working with anxiety, tension, stress, as often as i do in my practice, I see how crucial and effective it is to bring our attention below the level of conscious thoughts to our core experience. Not always easy: our thoughts are busy trying to control or influence our worlds! I like to think of our core experience as existing at the boundary between consciousness and unconsciousness. Because our physiology is primarily autonomic, outside (inside!) of conscious control, centering our attention there is moving towards exploring the unconscious. Its a bit of a surrender. For example, when we focus on our breathing, we notice a process which does not require our conscious control, but which we can interfere with (via muscle tensions and poorly developed habits). Bringing our attention into apprehension, rather than comprehension, we turn understanding into a bottoms up awareness rather than a top down control mechanism. Both kinds of knowing are useful. We can move beneath the creation of anxiety to ground ourselves in our physical, sensate experience and thus stop generating the anxiety we are so un-fond of!
1. bring your attention “in and down”
2. take a long, slow, deep breath thru your nose and hold to the count of four. Then, slowly release thru your mouth (or nose), like you’re blowing air into a balloon. at the bottom of your breath, wait for the impulse to breathe to occur, then follow it, slowly, up and in. repeat as desired
3. bring your attention to somewhere in your body: shoulders and arms, legs and feet, belly or heart. focus your attention there.
4. as thoughts occur, just witness and notice, keep focused on sensations.
5. Listen to what your impulses, sensations, posture, muscles, emotions,… are saying. don’t fix or fixate, just come back to your sensate target.
6. some prefer to tone, make simple sounds, sing, move, stretch,… whatever works: take a load off your mind for awhile. Don’t try to solve anything! Surrender to the moment. Allow and soften.
7. keep a journal of your experience: what supports you deepening and relaxing? What hooks your attention and makes you anxious. If you’re anxious, notice how that is held in the body. Be patient. Explore. Send me your questions if you like.
Be well!! Michael g