Everyone seems touched by stress and trauma these days. So how do we break free of the past, feel whole now, and build a peaceful future?
Well, I am a survivor of multipe traumas that used to have frequent meltdown, panic attacks, uncontrolled pain, and debilitating anxiety. I can handle anxiety attacks more. My pain is managed using many methods and coping mechanisms. It has been a few years since my last panic, but I have the confidence and skills to know that they are behind be and I can cope. Now I have more peace and control of my own mind and body. I sought out my own healing. In that search I have learned and implemented these tools over many years. It is an ongoing process of growth and healing we are all in. That is why we are all here right? Looking to find and share answers. To grow, heal ourselves, and apply new skills. To improve our baseline quality of life. I hope the work I have done in my self, and in making this workshop and blog post, can help other people on their journey to wholeness. All of these tools helped me make significant measurable impacts on my own healing.
These exercises can be done alone or in a group setting
1-Intention Setting: Set your intention to heal. Set your intention to grow. Set your intention to love.
This space is safe and secure. We are here to learn and grow together. We trust each other. We are in this together. I am here for you. This is going to have a positive impact on me. This can change my life. I am learning. I am growing. I completely and deeply love and accept myself.
What are your own personal intentions?
2-Breathing Meditation : Inhale, exhale, and increase to one minute breaths.
I would say the most important thing that has helped with panic specifically is breathing meditation. This can be called pranayama yoga, it is not mindfulness. You are not thinking about not thinking. Complete focus on the breath controlling and slowing it to one breath a minute is the goal. I believe if you can master this to one breath a minute. 30 second inhale, 30 second exhale, then you will have one powerful tool to stop the suffocation of a panic attack. This actually works for me. So to me it is fact it works. It may or may not work for you. It is the effort you put in practicing this when you are not panicking that is key. When you are doing your self care, in your alone time.
Begin by looking at a clock. I use one with a sweeping second hand. Now I do not use a clock at all. Notice three breaths. Then count in 1, 2, 3, 4 out 1, 2, 3, 4, and then increase to five or 6. Then take a big breath in, counting but not forcing it. Do not hold the breath. Breathe out letting the breath free counting 1,2,3. etc. This should take all of your concentration. Going to 15 or 20 second inhale exhale is good and a good time to insert other tools if you wish such as; light visualization, prayer, meditation, mantras, a song, whatever. Something positive, constructive, peaceful, building you and the control of your mind up.
Spend 10-15 minutes of time with the breathing meditation
How did this exercise make you feel?
Soothing Sounds and Clearing The Air
3-Singing Bowl: Focus, listen, be soothed
My daughters class uses this to focus and quiet the room. Buddhists and shamans use this tool. The bell marks time beginning or ending. This is good to start your practice or as a meditation in and of itself. The sound is soothing you listen and it changes with your speed and pressure. You can also use a bell or a glass with some water in it. Playing white noise, meditation sounds, classical music or other soothing sounds that place you in a calming vibration. Do not play flight of the bumblebee or heavy metal, even if you prefer this. Feel the sound listen with your whole body. The feeling of the sound is good and peaceful vibrating in you. You are safe. Let it flow through you like ripples in water. Know this sound as pleasant and calm and safe.
Where did you feel the vibrations of the singing bowl?
4-Personal Mantras: Reprogramming yourself
This is another way to clear and focus your mind. My mantra is OM MA ANA LEI WA
The sound of heavenly mother full of grace piecing together harmony
Dona nobis pachem means “give us peace” in Latin. I sing this often it does give me peace. I sang this in a choir in grade school at PLU during a Christmas cantata. We were the voice of angels in the mezzanine. I have made this association in my own mind.
You could sing or say “ah wee ma way” like the song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”
Oooh oo ooh oo oo oooo as in “Don’t Worry Be Happy”
Za mina mina eh eh waka waka eh eh tzamina mina zangela le wa a na wa ah ah
As in the Shakira song “Waka Waka” from the world cup. It is a war cry song from West Africa.
It gives me power to fight for my own peace. This is both silly and serious. Complicated as you want it or as simple as OM or amen.
I am calm. I am peace. I am free. I am healed.
We have all heard sounds we don’t like. Some of them negative hurtful words. This builds up good sounds in your head. The repetition of knowing something good is happening. So really any sound you repeat is a mantra. We repeat thoughts and sayings all the time.
Make your own and create an original. This is the sound of your growth and healing.
5-Mala, Rosary, or Mardi Gras beads? There is a purpose to these tools. They count you programming yourself and your thoughts. I have a mala and stone bead bracelets. I personally only use I am statements, along with my personal mantra, so that is what we will talk about today. I change them depending on my goals and what I am feeling at that moment. I am statements such as: I am safe. I am calm. I am strong. I am good. I am beautiful. I am smart. I am healthy. I am healing. I am worthy. I am unique. I am special. I am growing. I am learning. I am loved. I am supported. I am peaceful. I am kind. I am patient. I am light.
I am peaceful I am loving I am strong I am good I am calm I am patient I am understood
How many times are you sure you have said positive things to yourself? Make sure you have said 100 I am statements each week. Or a thousand a day if you want to play guru, nun, saint, Buddha, be your own science experiment and see how often and for how long this works for you. It is your choice to do positive self talk if you want to. You choose how you feel about yourself.
Choosing to do this is simple and easy. It trains your own thoughts. Now when I have time I imagine my mala or just run the I am statements before appointments, meetings, anything that used to be unbearable. I do this frequently in crowds. Stop and say a dozen or more out loud or in your mind. It gives focus and purpose to your thoughts, feelings and breathing.
This exercise is very powerful as a group!
Intense. Simple. Yoga.: Turn your world upside down
6-Stand on your head! This is how you change your emotions when you feel you are against a wall metaphorically. If you have never done this stand back against the wall. Put your hands on the floor and walk your feet up the wall. It is simple you are safe. That is if you are healthy. This is where I should say you should consult a doctor before exercising. This focuses your balance it puts force on your veins and valves it literally is flipping your world over. It’s a good reset for me.
I am stressed. I am not in a good mood. I am going to go stand on my head now! Then I sit down and breathe.
7-Recall Immersion and Birth Asana: The fetal seed in the dark to sun salutation and tree rooted and reaching for light
This is very powerful especially if you repeat it through your journey to check back in on how you feel and how you are progressing.
Curl up on the floor it the fetal position. Close your eyes. Squeeze yourself. Then immerse yourself into your pain. In this dark cold tight place dive into your darkness and embrace it. It is your past and you are about to leave it and live in the now and have hope for the future. Run these thoughts on shuffle repeat until you are ready for the next step. You are not standing you are helpless. Maybe you had no control over your pain or abuse. But you are going to learn now. You will grow you will triumph.
Once you are ready with your eyes closed put one foot under yourself and one hand in front of your self. You are still in the dark. You barely have a leg under you to eventually stand on. But you have made the decision that you will stand on your own two feet. You will wake up from your pain. It will feel like a bad dream by the end of this exercise.
Now lift your head and open your eyes. You are no longer in the world of darkness a seed buried in the dirt. You are little seedling that has a plan to plunge deep roots stand up and open to the light. You are ready to get both feet firmly underneath you and balance yourself.
Now put both feet under you and both hands on the ground. You still feel the weight of the past on your back. Still hunched over but it is behind you. Not over you and not buried by it. Building the strength to let it roll right off of you. Slowly let go of the ground.
And now you stand up. Notice how you feel when you stand up. Where is your head? How are you breathing? Where are your shoulders? Rock back and forth on your feet. Shake it off. Feel the weight roll off your back. Know you still have growing to do.
Now breathe a few deep breaths. Open your hands letting go of things. Relax your shoulders back. Open your heart. Hold your head high and breathe deeply. Now reach for the sky. Wave your arms to the edge of their reach.
Bring your hands above your head. Bring your palms together. Imagine yourself swimming deep in water or the stars. In a new world free smooth open able to go anywhere you want. Bring your hands back to your sides. Reach up and out like a tree. Bend your knees. Be aware of your feet. Feel your stability.
Remember how you used to feel when this exercise started. How do you feel now? What are the differences?
8-Body check, feel tension and release it. Notice when you are tense. Learn how to relax.
Start and finish this exercise by releasing energy vocally. Ahh Ohhh MMM
Scrunch up your face. Stick out your tongue. Bear your teeth. Use your hands to apply pressure to your face or head gently. And release
Squeeze your hands into fists and bend your arms in, roll your core forward. Bring your shoulders in and then to your ears. And release
Tense up the muscles in your thighs and calves then release
Now moving down to your feet and your toes.
Breathe in, breathe out Ahh Ohhh MMM
You have control of your own body and mind. This feels good you are okay. I know what tense feels like. I know what relaxed feels like. I can become relaxed when I want to be. I want to feel well.
9-Light protection visualizations: The egg, the screen, the rod
Think of the invisible protecting you. Feeling soft, warm light and positive flow from behind you like floating down a river. Feel the past lifting you up and making you stronger. The Egg – visualize an egg around you reaching up over your head and down below your feet. Fill this egg with light of your favorite color, or white light. Visualize it slowly filling up and bathing you with protective light.
The screen – imagine the same egg or maybe a square cage like a screen or a fence. This protects you from the negative energies around you. You see hear and interact through the safety of this screen. Only good comes in. Like imagining a huge dream catcher around you. Power up – in a comfortable meditation position imagine a powerful beam of light through your head, down your spine. It holds you up and is a source of energy and power. You are connected in a powerful way.
10-Head shoulders core feet: Your posture holds secrets to your feelings
Notice how you are sitting now. Are you in or out of balance? Are you hunched over? Holding yourself or protecting yourself? Crouching away and hiding?
How we sit when we do these exercises can give us clues deeper into ourselves. Sit upright, feet flat on the floor, shoulders back, head up. Feel how strong and stable you can make your body. Alternately one can lie down flat on the floor or in bed on your back and be comfortable and relaxed. And of course cross legged if this is comfortable for you in full or half lotus. This is uncomfortable for me. Tailor to your unique self. This is your healing. Do what feels good for you.
11-The water ritual.
This is simple. I always recommend a glass of water after a massage. I think it is a good reminder of purity and cleansing. Clearing out the yuck and acknowledging the power that runs through us. Drinking water or tea before or after. Wash your face to begin or end a session with your tool kit.
12-A sweet smell: Sage, lavender, incense, teas, and essential oils
Whether you burn them, drink them, or wear the oils the pleasant scent washes your senses clear of the past. This creates space for new memories of healing associated with what you choose now. Lavender for relaxation, citrus to invigorate you. Chamomile to calm you or peppermint tea to settle your stomach.
Adding a plant as self care, or gardening as a healing practice, has great benefit. And the fruits of your labor growing lavender or peppermint are all positive ways to incorporate healing plants and herbs. Literally growing pieces of your own peace. One with nature the full cycle of contributing to the life of a plant and it contributing to your health. The more it grows the more you grow.
Grounding and Energy Balancing
13- Stones and crystals. There are many views on healing stones. I am going to cover two suggestions to open yourself up to this tool.
The worry stone. Any stone that is smooth and fits your hand or thumb nicely works. This is good for people who are naturally fidgety or want something to actually do. It is like a grown up small hard security blanket. The worry stone can also be used like a mala. Rubbing and repeating a mantra.
Intention stones. In Olympia, I go to Earth magic to get a stone or 5 every time I really want to remember some thing I’m focusing on. Buying a tiger eye to remember my strength and courage. Peacock ore to remember my unique creativity, amethyst to listen to my intuition. There are stones for every meaning and intention. I personally use them as a reminder.
I wear a small medicine bag in front of my chest. I know someone who keeps it in their pocket for a bad hip. It I still the same idea as the intention stones but I also have little trinkets. And acorn, a small metal heart, a dried flower my daughter gave me. This reminds me of things I want to keep close to me. I do not wear it all the time. I empty it and look at it. What do the things inside mean to me? Then I remove some stones put new ones in.
15-Epsom salt bath
Salt baths with or with out essential oils are great for relieving tension and balancing your bodies energy. Like most people I shower usually. Baths are a special time for me to set the intention that I am going to relax and let my tension out into the water and down the drain. Lighting candles during a bath is extra soothing. Candles give a soft fluid light instead of the harsh electricity of fluorescent bulbs. This helps your nervous system calm down more so than a shower. Relaxing your feet closing your eyes. Feeling calm and quiet energy. Not a haphazard rushed shower and out the door. A calm relaxing bath that is planned and uninterrupted.
This always makes me feel good and there is research to back it up. Walk barefoot on the ground., in the grass, on unsealed concrete, or in a lake. This helps to match the electrical field in your body to the vibration of the earth. Releasing negative energy and bringing you to a state of harmony with nature. It is recommended to go barefoot for 30-90 minutes for maximum benefit. But of course, any reason to go outside and feel the ground on your feet is good. This also helps strengthen your feet and improve posture. Being outside and connected to the earth fresh air and the sun is always good medicine.
17- Tool Box
Think of the items and tools you have now. Make the intention to do, buy, find something to heal you monthly. The free store at the west side co-op has books. I have found essential oils there myself. Keep little stones or shells from walks in a jar to keep track of your growth. Place your candles, stones, journal in a noticeable spot or get a bag or a box to take it with you. I enjoy taking mine on nature walks, to friends’ houses, on trips. This is your tool box.
18-Room to breathe and grow
Create space in your life. Get rid of something you do not need, want, or like. Do this often. At least monthly I get rid of my kids clothes too worn for play. My own clothes I haven’t worn in a decade. Tupperware with no use or lid. Books I have read. Books I will never read. Clean the trunk of your car. Get rid of that box you never opened since you moved 5 years ago. Make a space for new things.
19-Open your mind to possibilities
If you are a people pleaser learn to say no. If you are behind a wall say yes. Just once. The world will not end. You will not die if you say yes to a party. Unless it’s a sky diving party! No seriously, if you say no to another invitation or event you really don’t want to go and spend time building yourself instead, that is okay too. Feel empowered with the tools to make your own personal progress. Feel obligated to yourself and responsible for your own growth. Only you know yourself enough to see the steps you are going to take.
20-Join a group. Take a class. Learn a better way for you.
This can be a huge step for many people and also a cause of anxiety. It took me years to get to this point but I did it. If I can I know you can. You have a voice. Your feelings matter. Being okay and in a functional good mood is important. Open up to your true honest feelings and share them with others in a safe setting. Like this one or with a trusted friend.
Be honest with yourself about how you feel and write it down. It can be very healing to get out your feelings and thoughts on paper and see them in a tangible way. Keep it or burn it. Write down what you want and put it under your pillow or in your wallet. Write down something negative to get it out of you and then burn it as a symbol of your own power over the negative.
Write a letter to your future self. “You made it. We are happy. We are safe”
Write a letter to your past self forgiving yourself. “I learned a lot form you. I am taking care of you now”
22-EFT Tapping – Emotional Freedom Technique
Starting at the top of the head to the face, throat, chest, sides, hips, say “even though I am anxious I completely and deeply love and accept myself” even though I am stressed and confused I completely and deeply love and accept myself
Even though I am……this can be anything…..I was abused……I am poor…I am rich..i am a woman…….. I completely and deeply love and accept myself.
Follow the tapping locations. This technique works with the mind body connection and eastern energy meridians. It is telling your body, that is anxious and holding and expressing your feelings, that you love yourself regardless of any and all other things. This can be very centering and grounding.
There are many YouTube videos on this topic that can guide you through the process. There is EFT tapping for almost everything.
All of these are self care tools to help you with your own healing. Tailor any or all of them to your needs and desires. Start with a breath, a minute, an hour, a day, a weekend. Start and build the peace and calm and life that is right for you.
How and why do these help?
Which exercise did you enjoy the most?
Does anyone have any comments or suggestions?
I hope this post will help someone. I will add more as plans for a workshop develop.
Be Blessed and Namaste