I have been amazed over the past several weeks at how old and young alike have said, "I am anxious." While this may be a thought generated from uncertainty about the future, it is an instinctual response coupled with a somatic sensation. Perhaps it is like the chicken or the egg. Which comes first: the physical sensation or the mental thought. What if they go hand in hand together? Photograph by ROMAN ODINTSOV
On the one hand, if the mind plays the thought over and over again, then the brain responds by increasing the feeling of anxiety. On the other hand, if the mind rephrases the "I am" statement, then the brain responds by decreasing the sensation of anxiety and generates a sense of calm.
Discover what happens when you think anxiety. Say to yourself, "I am anxious." Give yourself a moment to tune into your body. What is the corresponding physical sensation? What happens to your breath: did you hold it or did it stop short in your chest? What about your heart beat: did it get faster or increase? Now, think anxiety again: Say to yourself, "I am experiencing being anxious." Take another moment to live into your body. What is the corresponding physical sensation? What happens to your breath: did you let out a sigh or did it drop deep into your diaphragm? What about your heart beat: did it slow down or decrease?
Be curious: next time you identify an emotion like anxiety with an "I am" statement, rephrase it with an "I am experiencing" statement. Create space for yourself. Find how your emotional feeling is both a mental thought and a physical sensation ... the chicken and the egg.