This morning while holding my breath, over and over and over again for what felt like ages, I felt a huge surge of anxiety rip through my chest and throat. It was the type of anxiety you could feel at the top of your throat, you could feel over your heart, you could feel it fall down to your stomach. As I focused deep on this anxiety and finally pinpointed the panic sensations, I had a revelation that there was absolutely and truly NOTHING to be anxious about.
As I sat in each moment, it was made abundantly aware to me that everything and anything I need in life is currently what I have. I have my health, I have the love of others, I have employment that continues to force me to learn and challenges me. There are hobbies and activities that continue to excite me on a day to day basis. There’s shelter over my head and there’s a bed I can sleep in. There’s running water and there’s food in the fridge. We have a toilet. A TOILET.
The panic started to fade. Even though the anxiety was self-induced by breath holding, the panic became more of a tangible feeling rather than a sense of the panic. Its’ meaning shifted. It became something that would resonate in certain parts of the body as a sensation, not controlling of my thoughts. The thought process taking place was a perspective changing one. The sensation is the sensation, my reaction to it was the reaction.
Finally… FINALLY I’m starting to truly reap the benefits of the breath holding. You can say it until you’re blue in the face (pun not initially intended, but is very fitting here) but the meaning isn’t always internalized. This is the importance of doing something CONSISTENTLY. Without doing this for months on end, or had I given up, and then changing the habit of the breathwork, the results would have never come.
Sure, there are days that are better than others where 3 minutes go by and I’m barely feeling the CO2 in my lungs. Then there are other days that after 20 seconds I’m trying to figure out if I can exhale yet. The goal isn’t really about how long you can do it, but how long are working through the panic feeling that has started screaming in your body? Maybe you didn’t inhale enough, maybe you’re still recovering from a hard training session the day before. Maybe you’re holding in a morning poop. Regardless, when the bodily alarm of too much CO2 sets in, how do you react? Are you panicking waiting for the time limit to hit? Are you freaking out about financial woes or work concerns? Are you bugging out about a certain time constraint in the day? Or are you even creating problems that don’t actually exist??
Or are you becoming one with the sensation and reassuring yourself that everything is perfect?
Life isn’t easy. Every day has its’ own set of challenges, but through these challenges we continue to learn how to overcome the next ones. We gain strength and understanding. Just learning to sit there with your panic, find it within your body, and embrace it internally gives you a sense of tranquility for the day which cannot be taken from you. You’ll endure bullshit as the day continues, but with your mind in charge of your body, it’s much easier to take on things that may bring a sense of nervousness. And seeing these tasks or events as “nerve-racking” is okay…that’s you understanding how your body is reacting or going to react. We don’t have to define ourselves or these events by what they do to us, but it’s helpful to know how our body is going to behave.
Take a breath when you feel it come on. There’s a 4-8-7 technique that scientifically will reduce anxiety. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 8 seconds, release for 7. Do this 4 times in a row and it’ll start to relax you. This can be done multiple times throughout the day and then over time you can expound upon the times. So yeah, you don’t always have to hold for 3 minutes and exhale for 90 seconds (I can’t), but you can find miniscule ways to improve these exercises and stay consistent with them. It’s similar to doing one pushup a day – you’re more likely to do a couple once you drop to the floor and start. Very few people are going to accept the “1 pushup” and move on with their day. You’re probably going to bust out 10-20-30-40-50.. whatever your number may be. But I’m willing to bet that it wouldn’t be 1. Not unless you realized I bet and you’re trying to take my money. In which case, fuck yourself, I take back my bet.
Consistency is key with all things. There are going to be days that the level of effort is minimal. Hell, I couldn’t tell you how many days that I’ve sat down to write and just spammed the keyboard with fingers in hopes to put together a coherent blog post…but mother fucker, it got done. Then there are other days, that BECAUSE I was consistent, something profound came out of my fingertips and I couldn’t even believe it was something I wrote.
But today, I was really having a moment with myself, teaching my own mind that to feel the anxiety is a good thing. I induced it, which is usually is a reaction to something that’s happened or going to happen, but this morning I wanted to dig deep and see what the hell was going on. After a few breath holds, I was able to see that it truly was just a chemical reaction, the body freaking out over an overloaded molecule in my lungs. That’s it. There was absolutely nothing to panic about. The world is beautiful and I’m blessed to wake up every morning with the disposition of such.
You can panic about anything you want, but it really doesn’t help a goddamned thing. What does help, is feeling the anxiety but then taking a moment to yourself to question, “What caused this? Is this truly how I feel? Is this a farce? Do I need to poop?” There are long car drives where some anxiety spikes from bathroom fears, but with the package of babywipes at my side.…any base is a homebase.
Build skills by consistently working on them. Breathe and focus on it. Carry babywipes everywhere.