Tag: Anxiety

The art of relaxation

Yesterday’s article reminds me of something fundamental!

In Patricia’s guest post of yesterday, she wrote about Chloe, her dog,

Chloe was born knowing. She knows about joy. She knows about living a life in balance. She knows about forgiveness, trust, exuberance, a passion for learning and the power of a good nap.

I was speaking with Jon Lavin a few days ago about the effect of anxiety on memory.  Jon confirmed that as we get older even low levels of anxiety can play games with our mental focus.  He described what many of us know – of walking into a room, for instance, and suddenly realising that you didn’t have a clue as to why you had come into the room!  In a very real sense anxiety is the body’s manifestation of fear.

Jon went on to say that practicing ‘letting go’ for a couple of 10-minute sessions a day is wonderfully therapeutic for the mind.  In fact, when Jon was a guest author for Learning from Dogs he touched on the subject of fear in a post almost two years ago to the day; Dealing with the fear of the known.  Indeed, I’m going to reproduce that article in full – here it is,

Jon Lavin

Can we ever conquer fear?

In a recent article I discussed the fear of the unknown, linked to the down-turn, redundancies, etc.

Per Kurowski, a great supporter of this Blog, posed the following question. “Great advice… but how do we remove the fear of what is known?”  A simple, and slightly flippant answer would be, “Develop a different relationship with it.”

What I’m saying is that when we are facing the known, and I’m assuming that it’s something unpleasant, our choices are limited. It’s going to happen, so the only thing we can do is change the way we view it.

This brings us back full circle to developing a different relationship with it. Let’s take the word, ‘fear’.

All fear is an illusion, walk right through“. I heard Dr David Hawkins say on a CD. Granted, a great trick if you can do it!

Here’s another description of fear: Fear = False Evidence Appearing Real

Fear is generally future-based. We tend to use the past as a learning reference to inform us of what to be afraid of in the future. So human beings live their lives trying to predict and prepare for the future, limited by their past experiences.

Unfortunately, the only way to work with fear of the known is to live in the present!

Our whole society is geared up to look into the future. We are forever worrying about or planning something for the future.

To begin focussing on the present, try this.

Simply, to start off, become aware of the breath and sensations in the body. This will slowly start to remind us to be present, or embodied, in our own body. Problems, fear and spiral thinking, often at 3 or 4 in the morning, are generated in the mind. Thoughts occur randomly, although we call them, “Our thoughts“, and refer to, “Our mind“.

By dropping out of the thought processes into the awareness of our breath and our body, the noise stops, even if only for a moment.  Here’s the rub: So very few people in the world will have even the slightest inkling what these words mean!

If more of us got used to coming out of the mind before making an important decision, and simply sat with the question for a while, the answer would probably present itself.

This will probably raise more questions than it answers but that’s not a bad thing.

By Jon Lavin

Difficult to add anything to that very sound advice save to try it out yourself, and if you own a dog or have one as a friend, just look much more closely at how he or she behaves and remember why this blog is called what it is!  Or as Trish wrote,

Chloe was born knowing. She knows about joy. She knows about living a life in balance. She knows about forgiveness, trust, exuberance, a passion for learning and the power of a good nap.

Ah, the power of a good nap!

Puppy Cleo enjoying a good nap!

The way forward?

A big vote of thanks to Paul for plugging away for so long without any contribution from me.  Unlike Paul who is retired, well retired in the sense of a paying job, I have a family, a dog (Jess) and the usual set of household overheads to cover, so the week is very much a working week for me.  Ergo, I shall never be able to contribute to Learning from Dogs in the same manner as Paul but a regular contribution is assured. To get things rolling again, I want to re-publish an article that I wrote on my business blog the other day.

Removing the fear of the unknown

Seeing the light

I’ve been working with most of my clients recently through painful transformations brought about by the economic downturn.

An interesting metaphor really because since the first wave of uncertainty triggered panic, first noticed in the UK banking system, I have been picking up on that uncertainty that feels like it’s stalking the globe and has been for some time. Recent stock market crashes have simply exacerbated this and that, coupled with the riots taking place in major cities in the UK, make for pretty disturbing reading.

Interestingly, I, too, have been aware of an underlying fear that was difficult either to name or source.

It has been rather like a deep river in that whilst the surface feels slow-moving, currents are moving things powerfully below.

So this ‘fear’ has caused a few household changes.

1) We now are the proud owners of 12 chickens. Our youngest son and I have dug up the back lawn and planted vegetables and built a poly tunnel.

2) We have also installed a wood burning cooker. Right back down to the base of Maslow’s triangle really!

Maslow's triangle of needs

These feelings have brought about such change everywhere and I wonder seriously whether we will ever return to what was; indeed would we want to?

I might not have mentioned it in previous blogs but as well as an engineering background, in latter years, I have focused on how success in business is linked directly to aspects of relationships and how we are in our relationships with others, so things like integrity, self-awareness and the ability to see the point of view of others, and modify our approach appropriately.

To inform this, some 7 years ago, I embarked on an MA in Core Process Psychotherapy, primarily to work on myself so that I could be the best I could be in my relationships, in and out of work.

The point I’m trying to make is that the same panic I notice in many of the companies I work in, and in me, is based on fear of the unknown and on a lack of trust in all its forms.  I’ve deliberately underlined that last phrase because it is so incredibly important.

The truth is that we get more of what we focus on.

So we can choose to focus on the constant news of more difficulties, hardship and redundancies, or we can focus on what is working.

In the workplace this positive focus has been pulling people together across functions and sites and pooling resources and ideas.

When we realise we’re not doing this alone it’s amazing how much lighter a load can feel and how much more inspired we all feel.

I also notice how humour begins to flow and what a powerful antidote for doom and gloom that is.

Transformation is never easy but the rewards far exceed the effort put in ten fold.

So what is it going to be? Are we all going to bow down to the god of Doom & Gloom, fear and anxiety, heaping more and more gifts around it, or are we going to start noticing and focusing on the other neglected god – that of relationship, joy, trust, abundance and lightness?

Whatever the future holds for us all a belief in our inherent ability to adapt and change and focus on the greater good rather than fear, anxiety, greed and selfishness is the only sustainable way forward.

By Jon Lavin