If I watched the news all day and evening I would KNOW that the world is in its last days: Earthquakes, tornadoes, nuclear reactor melt-downs, flooding, war, starvation, killing, financial collapse, drought, fires . . . EVERYWHERE.
I look out the window, past the TV. It’s sunny, warm and lovely. My brain, however, has already been cued by the words, thoughts and images of death, dying and devastation. My brain as a response has released the neurochemistry of anxiety into the cells of my body. And I FEEL the anxiety in every fiber of my being.
All our brains chronically perceive danger with any chronic emotional or physical condition. The body being continually under siege, in pain, sends signals to the brain which get us ready to flee or fight off our enemy. Muscle tension is needed for running like hell or slugging it out. Now’s not the time to relax if you want to live.
The opposite of DANGER is SAFETY.
Here’s one of the very best mind-body techniques, and easiest, way to let your brain practice calm. Best of all it requires no Rx, no money, no time and you take it with you where ever you go. I have taught this hundreds, maybe thousands, of times and it absolutely works . . .when you do it.
Chronically Safe Signal:
1. Take a deep breath through your nose.
2. Hold the breath for just a moment
3. As you release the breath, through your nose, very gently, say silently: “I’m safe.” (Be kind to your brain. It’s just trying to keep you from being eaten alive)
Our brains are relatively simple in that brains can not tell the difference between when we are actually in danger (anxiety is our brain’s way of keeping us on alert for danger so we can survive) or when we perceive danger through thoughts or other cues.
Imagine a snake, a spider, anything that you are afraid of. Your brain will signal “danger” “danger” and flood you with the neurochemistry of fear. Watch a sad movie and your brain will flood you with the neurochemistry of sadness and, if you are like me, sob like a baby.
Soooooooooo, tell your brain you are safe and it will stop the neurochemistry of fear and anxiety. It’s not instant cup’o’soup because once you are flooded with the anxious feeling it will take about 20 minutes or so for theneurochemistry to metabolize out of your body’s cells. No matter how you FEEL keep giving your brain the “I’m Safe” cue.
Here’s the Key
Yoga, meditation, mindfulness prayer, listening to relaxation recordings all help. However, to break into a CHRONIC cycle we need to chronically signal our brains to stop sending the neurochemistry of the stress response to our bodies. Let your brain know that no one is throwing grenades at you, animals are not trying to eat you alive, you are not in danger. And the easiest way is to . . .
. . . CHRONICALLY “Sprinkle” the Breath/I’m safe cue throughout the day and evening. It’s a good idea to get a cue(s) to remind yourself to do this. A post-it-note on the bathroom mirror, every time your phone rings, a note in your appointment book etc.
You HAVE to breathe anyway so you’ve got nothing to lose — except your stress response.
In the midst of peace
Hypnotic danger signals
My companion, fear