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Recently I had to drink my own medicine. My anxiety level shot through the roof dealing with a serious situation in my life. In fact, just thinking about it as I am writing still brings back a little residue of the anxiousness. For me, that’s the proverbial “canary in the coal mine”. It’s a good thing and I take this awareness/warning as a reminder to do the work I’m about to share with you. It has been my life experience, both personally and professionally working with clients, that healing, if it is going to last, must occur on all levels of our being. We normally look for healing on the Body level, and even on that level only do things that affect the body on the outside without looking into a deeper, more than skin deep solution. To heal deeply we must dive in and work below the surface on all of our levels of existence. Anxiety comes from our beliefs, opinions, judgments, and the “shoulds” about how we feel or believe the world and ourselves is supposed to be. A mother might see a crumb in the corner of the room which triggers a panic attack that she is going to lose her children. In this example the crumb is no longer simply a crumb. The anxiety goes something like this, “There’s a crumb in the corner of the room. That means I’m a bad Mother. I can’t keep my house clean. Oh my God, that crumb makes me sick to my stomach and I can’t think straight. If I can’t do something as simple as keep my house clean then how am I ever going to be able to do anything else. How am I ever going to raise a healthy child? That crumb is going to bring rats into the house! If someone sees how filthy my house is and that I have rats then they’re going to assume I’m a bad Mom. Am I a bad Mom? They’re going to think I can’t properly raise my children then Health Services is going to come in and take away my children.” This obsessive thinking full of opinions, judgments, shoulds, and assumptions becomes easy to see as flawed from the outside but the feelings and thoughts on the inside are very really. You can see how the Mind has flawed thinking – Crumb = bad Mother. How the Body has flawed feelings – Crumb = sick to my stomach. And the Spirit has flawed beliefs – Crumb = I’m a bad Mother. Identifying the flawed feelings, thoughts, and beliefs is important but that’s only half of the problem…now what to do with this awareness. It’s great to understand why you are the way you are but that doesn’t do any good if you don’t feel better. You can spend years analyzing why you are the way you are but if you’re still miserable then what good does it do? Here is what I do: Mind – I recognize that my Mind is out of control right now, that I can’t stop thinking about the worry or fear that I am perceiving to be real. As I have this constant loop of words spinning in my head going around and around I’m going to stop that recording. I am going to put different words into the recording. I get that I’m overwhelmed and that I can’t stop the loop so I’m simply going to put different words into it for now. To do this I might pick up a book, Dr. Seuss books work really well for this, and simply read the book…out loud is best. Or, I repeat a mantra…”Faith not Fear, FAITH not fear, FAITH NOT fear!” What I’m reading doesn’t even have to make sense. It’s simply about breaking the loop. BUT, if reading or repeating something that feels good has a positive emotional feeling to it this will make the experience of cutting off the obsessive thinking even easier. Solutions – Read (preferably out loud), write, meditate, pray, chant, etc. Body – All these beliefs, judgments, and shoulds feel like crap in our body…at least they do in mine. Feelings happen in the body so this is where I start addressing those feelings. In the past I confused my thoughts for my feelings. It was as if I was disconnected from my body and all I had were thoughts. I thought I was angry, and I was, but it took me awhile to understand the feeling of anger. I discovered that the feeling of anger for me was a pit in my stomach and a weight, in fact a deep heaviness, upon my heart. So, here I needed to start feeling different. The anxiety physically hurt, it felt debilitating and I physically felt frozen and unable to move at times. So, the solution for me was to MOVE! I had to get back in my skin and decide to feel something different then the pain I was wrapped in. Walking for me was the answer. I dragged myself outside and went on a hike. Now, I took my Mind with me on this walk so as I walked I often found myself chanting “FAITH NOT FEAR” breathlessly as I climbed the mountain. Solutions – Dance, walk/hike, exercise, yoga, swim…just move! Spirit – Anxiety had crippled my Spirit. I felt a deep sadness in my heart of hearts…I think that’s what some call the Soul. I felt unworthy and unloved and my Spirit had been crushed under the weight of my beliefs and sadness. Healing my Spirit meant I had to unleash the bonds that chained me to my pain. My Spirit felt it was being crushed under an avalanche of negativity so I decided to set it free. I needed to release it from my Mind and my Body. To do this I turned to ceremony. There are so many ways to do this and for me I turned to fire to help me cleanse and transform the pain that I had locked inside of me. I wrote down all my anger and sadness. I got it out of me and onto paper. I then took this paper and sat myself down in front of my fire pit. I created my own ceremony. First I thanked God for the opportunity to release and I found a way to be grateful if for nothing else but for the pain for at least I could feel and although I didn’t want the pain any longer I was able to muster up some gratitude for at least being alive. Then I said a prayer acknowledging the truth of the Universe and that I was part of that truth, that love, and that abundance. From there I placed those papers into the fire holding onto them until I couldn’t anymore and the heat of the flames forced me to let go. The last thing I did was to scoop out the ashes and bury them in the ground letting them truly be transformed and giving this pain back to the earth where it can be planted and grow into something else; where it can feed the soil instead of poisoning my heart. Solutions – Laugh, hypnosis, daydream, visualize, imagine, ritual, ceremony…find things that inspire! These three simple steps cleared my Mind, Body, and Spirit of the anxiety that had been coded into my DNA from years of creating and living an anxious life. Some of them I had to repeat more than others in order to fully wipe away the residue of the anxiety…it can be like pouring milk out of a glass the milk is gone but the residue still needs to be washed away. There are still times when I find myself sliding back into old patterns of anxiousness but I now see this as a good thing for the experience is never long lasting and every time I come out stronger and happier. I learn more. I grow. I plant the seeds for a better more powerful life…sometimes those seeds just need a little heat to germinate.