Tag Archives: mindfulness

Twickenham Therapist on Corona and anxiety

Absolutely nothing to do with Corona picture

I am pretty sure that my grandparents, were they still alive, would have shrugged their shoulders, referred to the second world war and carried on as normal. But I personally can’t remember a time when there has been so much uncertainty, and such a rapidly unfolding situation.

And as anyone who has experienced anxiety knows, uncertainty generally makes it a lot worse. With that in mind, there are a couple of things to consider.

Media coverage

There is very little else happening right now and journalists have a lot of internet space and hours to fill. Gone are the days when we read one newspaper in the morning and watched the evening news, instead it is a 24/7 business. When there is only one story, it is dissected over and over again from every possible angle.

Remembering this is helpful, as is limiting our exposure. If you have updates from news organisations on your phone or tablet, now might be a good time to disconnect them so that you control how much information you receive and how often you get it. Choose a trusted source and check in with it, but otherwise free up some headspace for more positive thoughts.

Panic is contagious

You only have look at the supermarket shelves and footage of people fighting in the aisles to realise this. However just because panic spreads, doesn’t mean at all that it is warranted. Take a breath and tune into your own experience rather than following others in their response. If you never have cause to buy tinned tomatoes, you’re not going to start cooking with them now.

The present is a great place to be.

Anxiety robs us of the present moment, it either pulls us back to the past, what we did, what we said, or it constantly projects us into the future – what if? So, it can help to check in with the present and just be curious about yourself and your surroundings right now, the present is where we live, so try to tune it to it.

Acceptance

The say that life is what happens when we are busy making plans, and it is really painful when our expectations, for reasons completely outside our control, are trampled on.  I know  people are having to re-arrange weddings, trips to see loved ones, exams etc. Really big things that have been looked forward to and worked towards for a long long time. It stinks, it really does, be angry, sad, whatever it is you feel about it, but then try to move on.

When things are outside our control, the energy that goes into ruminating about it, is wasted. It changes noting and depletes us.  We can learn a lot here from the 12 step programme. Any addict who wants recovery has to stop trying to control their addiction. Admitting they are powerless frees up energy for living a different way, which is why the serenity prayer guides so many people.

Grant me the Serenity

To accept the things, I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference

Covid-19 is way outside of our control, so living with acceptance of that, has got to be easier than fighting against it.

Stay in touch.

We may be forced into physical isolation, but we’re blessed with skype, zoom, facetime, what’s app and I’m sure, many other ways of keeping in touch through technology. Wasn’t it heart-warming to see Italians connecting through music across their balconies and the Spanish joining together in their isolation to applaud their medics? This is a time to be reaching out and sharing as best we can.

Nature

I’ve just been outside and listened to the bird song for a few minutes. Nature, despite all we do to it, has a way of enduring. I find it comforting to see the sun rising and falling each day, the flowers coming up. If you can’t get out and experience it for yourself, then consider an app of nature sounds, or webcams of beautiful sites around the world.

Beauty in nature

Twickenham Therapist on Silence

Recently I went to the Peak District for a weekend of yoga and mindfulness.

Nine of us met the teacher and each other for the first time on Friday evening for the first yoga session, followed by dinner where we got to know each other a bit. The teacher suggested that during the weekend we breakfast in silence to preserve the peace and calmness of the early morning sessions. Dutifully we agreed but after experiencing this on the Saturday morning, the group voted to restore breakfast conversation.

The interesting thing was however, that by Sunday morning, having spent 24 hours sharing our stories, fears, head massages and cake, breakfast was spent in an easy quiet of familiarity.

It got me thinking about silence and how we experience it.

Often in group when there is a silence the first person to speak will say how unbearable it is and that they are talking in order to break it. It may be that their experience of silence is that it precedes anger, or is the aftermath of a row. Maybe they grew up with a parent who could not express their anger, so raged silently in that way that fills the air with tension. Something about the lack of noise is unbearable.

One of the women on the weekend said that she lived alone, so for her silence was a reminder of that. Talking to her about this it seemed that it was more palpably a reminder of the loss and grief  that had forced the silence upon her.

In therapy the silence can be heavy with expectation and charged with anticipation. A client’s silence can be because they are searching for the words to articulate something that has not been spoken about before. Engaged silence is the respectful and holding  environment that such disclosures require.

Engaged because sitting in silence with someone is a world away from ignoring them. One of my yoga friends told us about a retreat where not only is talking banned, but also hand gestures and signals. In this environment if you need something, you have to wait for someone to attune to your need, to work it out and provide you with it. Wow, imagine that, how connected would we have to be with each other to make that work? The words we use with each other are often about keeping a distance,  words are about controlling the space between us as much as they are about connecting. We tell our colleagues about our weekend in a way that presents a story, we knowingly add to the way they experience us with what we tell them. Stripping the words away means we give the world ourselves as we are.

True silence is of course hard to find short of burrowing down a disused  mine. On that first breakfast I was blown away but just how loud crockery is! But shutting out the obvious noise is a great way to tune it to what is happening beneath it.

stick_man_by_minimoko94-d2zvfn8One of my favorite mindfulness exercises is to draw a stick man in the middle of a page, imagine it is me and draw or write the noises  I hear all around it, in the place that they are coming from. Try it in the garden on a summers afternoon, the birdsong, lawn mowers, children playing, etc will anchor you in the here and now. Do it in a coffee shop and you will find out just how many sounds there are that you disregard or tune out. It is a great way to practice a bit of mindfulness without the wandering thoughts that inevitably accompany a breathing exercise.

 

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