Was that ever you?
This post is about how you can stop bombing important meetings, a test and even your sports games.
More specifically, I will teach you a basic technique that changed my life in many ways and brings about overall calm. Les Paul, the famous guitar player, once said to me, “when you are called up to stage it is already too late to practice.” So, this post is all about practice.
Here is why this is important. Can you admit that sometimes, or maybe even often, your important meetings or events have been messed up because you panicked or were anxious?
Sure you prepared what you were going to say and knew your topic cold but still things did not go well or as well as you had hoped. You could feel it right in the middle of your talk, your test or your meeting. You could feel it in your body.
I know it is embarrassing and uncomfortable to discuss this topic. Even if you never hit rock bottom, you did not nail it when you were “called up to the stage.”
You’re exhausted by all the energy that you have wasted from anxiety and feelings of panic and fear. I get it.
But you’re the kind of person who wants to figure this out, even though life, parenting, work has become a bit of a logistical nightmare. Have you ever been woken up in the middle of the night before your big day? Were you able to fall back asleep and relax? It is ok if your answer is “sometimes yes, sometimes no.”
Panic and anxiety come from all kinds of places but you cannot talk your way out of it for good.
This post is not about the causes of panic and anxiety. It is about how it feels. For me, it comes out in my throat which gets tight. My chest would get tight too. I would get redfaced and even sometimes my body would shake. These symptoms or a combination of these symptoms are common.
What I have found to be common regardless of how panic and anxiety feels is that you cannot completely talk you way out of it.
This is true, even if you have a yoga practice or have meditated because while those tools are essential for the tool box of happiness, they often do not go deep enough into the place where panic and anxiety starts.
The answer lies in your belly. Yup.
In my first lesson on belly breathing, we are going right to the root of where panic and anxiety starts.
Let’s Get Right to it
Today’s Goal: To feel air coming in thru your nostrils (with your mouth closed) when you push out and forward your belly button. You will be exhaling through your mouth.
- For this first lesson, I’d like you to discover a comfortable posture.
- Please sit so that your shoulders are over your hips.
- Place your hands on your hips with your elbows bent but keep your shoulder relaxed and out. Please your hands in a way as a young kid would when they are saying with their body “hey?!” If that image does not help, just place your hands on your hips right above the hip bones.
- It should be a comfortable feeling.
- Close your mouth initially and inhale gently through your nose.
- Now gently exhale thru your mouth.
A Note About Gently: Do Not Snort or Sniffle Your Breath Into Your Nose. Rather, Pretend you are asleep and you are taking a relaxing pre-sleep breath.
Gently breathe into your nose. Hold for a second and just note where in your body you feel your breath – is it in your nostrils coming in?
Your throat? Your chest? Any chance you feel it on the sides of your body like where you’d feel a corset?
Now, for this lesson I am sitting in a chair that has some give to it so it is easy for my lower back to arch a bit. A chair that has give – like a tilting chair – helps initially so you can use the chair to tilt your pelvis/hips using the chair. If you are sitting in a firm chair you will need to point and roll your pelvis/hips forward. I would like you to comfortably roll your pelvis forward and back once or twice. Don’t force your pelvis/hips forward but see if you can get them to rock a bit.
HERE COMES THE BIG TAKEAWAY – PAY ATTENTION
- With your hands on your hips and your elbows out I’d like you to take a slow inhale thru your nose and at the same time roll your pelvis slowly forward like you are TRYING TO TOUCH YOUR BELLY BUTTON TO THE WALL IN FRONT OF YOU. You can use your hands on your hips to help your pelvis roll forward.
- Can you roll your pelvis/hips forward in a way that allows your belly to come forward like it is pouring over your belt line?
- For now, do not worry about what your exhale is like so much but exhale through your mouth when you exhale.
- I’d like you to inhale as you roll your pelvis forward and focus on slowly trying to touch your belly button forward.
By learning and practicing what is “Belly Breathing,” you will teach your body a deep, calming state of being. Your body will switch to breathing in this fashion because your body and mind seek comfort. Once your body learns this state of breathing, this new way to breathe, you will start off calmer and it will form a foundation for addressing panic. Once you do this for 21 days or so, you will have taught your body how to restore itself, and you to calm.
ARE YOU STILL READING? ARE YOU WONDERING ABOUT HOW THIS WORKS?
Let me introduce you to the Vagus nerve.
But don’t worry. This will not be a science lesson like in school.
The Science Behind Belly Breathing.The Vagus nerve (Above) stretches from behind your brain step down your neck, behind your heart, into your stomach and down into your intestines. By accessing the Vagus nerve through breathing, we are consciously accessing our body’s calming mechanism. “The parasympathetic nervous system allows our body to “rest and digest” as opposed to the sympathetic nervous system’s fight or flight response (Hunt, 2016).
HAVING PROBLEMS WITH THE LESSON?
Observations and Places We Get Stuck:
- I am guessing you are worried about how far your chest might be coming?
- For now, I’d like you to focus on your belly button and whether you can feel it come forward as you inhale.
- I am also guessing that if I say push your belly button forward you think I mean push down like you would when going to the bathroom. That isn’t wrong but you will discover what I mean when I say push forward. It is almost a lifting of your belly button area up and forward.
- What happens to your inhale when you lift or push your belly button out and forward?
Ultimately, by pushing your belly button out and forward you will find that air comes INTO your nose without any effort by you at your nose or sinus area.
- Practice: Practice pushing your belly button out and forward as you exhale while sitting and notice that the area right above your belly button also comes forward.
- Can you feel the air come into your nostrils when you push your belly button forward? Even a little? If so, that is the start of belly breathing.
- Can you push your belly button area out slowly and pull it in slowly yet?
- This will take a few days to weeks to strength a muscle set and muscle memory BUT I encourage you to practice just this exercise when you sit, stand and walk. You will know that you have accomplished this first piece if air comes into your nose simply by pushing out your belly button.
In my next lesson, you will learn how to further access this powerful tool.
–> BIG FAVOR: Can you share one or two ways to improve this for you? What worked and what did not?
Thanks – Gregory@thepanicproject.com