There is so much fear in the world right now. None of us are immune to it.
Fear is a powerful emotion and affects the entire mind-body system. Neurologically, it shuts down the part of our brain that governs rational thought, leaving the most primitive part of our brain, the reptilian brain to run the show – this is commonly known as the amygdala hi-jack. Fear also affects our physiology, prompting muscle contraction and tension, sweating and increased heart rate and blood pressure. Fear also depletes us physically, mentally and emotionally.
Fear often arises when we project into the future and imagine what may happen. Yet, most of the things we imagine don’t ever come to pass.
So, what’s the antidote to fear?
The most effective way to override the fear response is to bring our awareness back to the PRESENT.
When I catch myself future tripping, I follow a simple practice that calms my mind, eases tension and brings me back into the present moment.
I sit and focus on my breath.
That’s it. No fluff or hype – it really is that simple.
I start by observing the sensation of each inhale and exhale, noticing the tension release on each exhalation. If I feel like, I might play some soothing music or my favourite mantras; or if I’m outdoors, I allow myself to be soothed by the sounds and sensations of nature. I allow myself to surrender to the here and now. To what is.
The breath is the most important yet most neglected aspect of our wellbeing. The quality of our breathing affects the functioning of all of our body functions and every cell in our body. The breath particularly affects cognitive functioning (brain functioning and performance).
Our breath also has a direct impact on our mental and emotional state. Short, shallow breathing results in an agitated and chaotic mental state. A deep and stable breath rhythm cultivates focus and calmness.
Anchoring our awareness to the present moment by connecting to our breath is extremely beneficial for our overall health and wellbeing. Bringing conscious awareness to our breath helps to quieten an overstimulated and agitated mind and soothes our nervous system by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, triggering the body’s natural relaxation response.
The next time the stresses and worries of life overwhelm you, or you notice yourself projecting into the future, try sitting or lying still and bring your awareness to your breath. If thoughts or worries disturb you, observe them, without judgement and allow them to drift away on the outbreath. Allow your focus to be on your breath.
To cultivate resilience to better handle life’s challenges, set aside time each day – ideally at least 15-20 minutes to simply sit and bring awareness to your breath. Then you will experience first-hand the power of your breath in unravelling the tension in your body and mind.