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physically shucking anxiety from my chest cavity

By June 19, 2013 No Comments

musselI had an intense weekend marked by extreme highs and lows. The weekend’s mood swings caught me off guard because I’ve been feeling so stable and healthy lately. The reasons for the weekend’s intensity are a story for another day, but the anxiety that was stirred up inside me has been pretty much non-stop from Saturday morning through this evening. The level of anxiety waxed and waned, but never eased up completely. By Sunday morning, one day into the episode, I decided to take control and do the things I knew needed to be done to get back on track.

I went to yoga on Sunday, drank plenty of water, took an anti-anxiety pill, listened to self-guided meditations and got a full night’s sleep. I took another anxiety pill on Monday before work, avoided caffeine, drank plenty of water and went to yoga in the evening before hitting bed at a reasonable hour again.

Tuesday – same routine minus the yoga. Instead I went to a friend’s house for dinner and relaxed before listening to a self-guided meditations and reading a few chapters of Dr. Firestone’s ‘The Fantasy Bond’ before getting a full night’s sleep.

And now today, I’ve continued the pattern: anti-anxiety pill, tons of water, yoga, reading about the possible causes for anxiety, and I made an appointment to meet with a psychoanalyst on Tuesday. I decided to seek help for two main reasons – First, ‘The Fantasy Bond‘ is helping me to see how my early childhood years and relationship with my parents has created irrational and inaccurate views of reality in certain situations.

Second, the anxiety this weekend was triggered by the experience of feeling close and vulnerable with someone and I recognized that I’ve felt the same type of anxiety, at some point or another, with almost every man I’ve been in a romantic relationship with. This is obviously unhealthy and restrictive to my goal of building an amazing, fulfilling, intimate relationship with another person, so I need to explore the cause and find resolution.

All of this self-care and acknowledgment of emotions has me feeling like I’m back in control. There is still a little residual anxiety from the weekend, but I have effectively stopped the snowball effect and downward spiraling by getting back on a strict routine and taking care of myself.

This evening, as I lay in Shavasana at the end of a 75 minute yoga practice, I could very clearly feel a contorted, asymmetrical chunk of anxiety applying pressure to the underside of the top of my rib cage. It felt like a bunch of Legos snapped together haphazardly, jaggedly, contorting under the muscles of my chest. While breathing in and out in the final pose, covered in sweat with my body completely spent and physically exhausted, I began to visualize my hand reaching down into my chest cavity to shuck the Lego-chunked anxiety formation from inside me.

With my eyes closed, I visualized pulling and twisting the oddly shaped cluster to slide it out from the tightness in my chest. It didn’t come all the way out, but I was able to remove a large portion of it and it occurred to me that it wasn’t unlike trying to grab a slippery mussel and rip it from the shell. There’s always the little tough, stubborn root that often stays stuck securely in the shell as the rest of the mussel is removed.

I hope that maybe this technique or visualization might offer someone else an idea of how to try and mentally move unwanted energy from their body.