Jun 162013

Humans worry. There’s no getting around it. We are biological predisposed to have negative thoughts, images and emotions in order to plan for anticipated potential threats. The problem with worry is that we worry too much. The problem with problems is that we often don’t take them in stride or review them peacefully. Instead, we tend to think ‘worst case scenario’ without coming to solutions – instead, we come up with a scenario that is the ‘bad thing’ and get stuck in the vision of the bad thing. Our foreheads scowl, our muscles tense, our bellies tighten, our joy plummets. Worry, at this level, is not simply a function of planning for possible outcomes, instead, it is both a side-effect and cause of anxiety in a vicious cycle that decreases happiness.

There are 12 practical tools for helping with worry.

  1. Breathe. Breathwork helps to slow things down. Do a body scan and look for tensions. Soften the tensions.
  2. Stay in the present moment. All worry is future or past oriented. Staying in the now is contrary to worry.
  3. Practice positive what ifs. f you’re thinking of all the negative ‘what ifs,’ start thinking of the positive ‘what ifs.’ Thought process like, “what if I lose my job and then I can’t find another and I can’t make mortgage and lose my house” can be given reality checks of all possible outcomes. “What if I don’t lose my job and everything goes on as it always does.” or “What if I lose my job and that forces me to look for work that I really love. What if I find a job and make even more money than I do now. What if that allows me to save up some money so that I know when hard times hit I have a safety net.”
  4. Give yourself reality checks. For example, if you’ve never been homeless, remind yourself that your fears of homelessness are likely unfounded. If you have been, then remind yourself that you survived that so likely you’ll survive it again.
  5. Meditate. Anxiety-based worries make the mind circulate and perseverate, the solution then, is stillness for the mind. Meditation is one form of finding stillness, though seated meditation isn’t always my first suggestion for people who worry. Anything that takes you into ‘the zone’ can do that. It might be crossword puzzles, making jewelry or art, or gardening.
  6. Get in your body. Anxiety-based worries take us out of our physical experience while increasing our physical tension. Relocating ourselves within our bodies is a great way to get out of our heads. Moving meditation practices like tai chi are great ways to soften the speeding up that tends to arise with anxiety, But vigorous physicality like dancing or biking is also a way to move that anxious energy out of your head and body. Embodiment practices like Authentic Movement, Dance/Movement Therapy and some forms of Yoga are great ways to reconnect with the wisdom of your body.
  7. Find a counselor or therapist. Most of us have some trauma or core beliefs that keep us stuck in anxiety-based worries. A trained professional can help you to heal the wounds that cause anxiety and shift the core beliefs that keep you stuck in a worry cycle.
  8. Slow down and simplify your life. Part of worry comes from the practical reality that our lives are often too big for us. We own too much stuff, have too much debt, and do too many activities. All beings need time to rest and recuperate in order to be sustainable. If your life doesn’t allow you space to rest, something’s gotta go.
  9. Get more loving touch. Loving touch calms down the nervous system. So get more massages if you can. And touch your loved ones more. Studies have shown that those who are touching get similar soothing benefits as those who are being touched.
  10. Look for the good and practice gratitude. Gratitude increases joy and happiness and changes our negative disposition into a positive disposition.
  11. Play more. You cannot skip for any length of time and still worry. Try it. Play increases joy, which is like kryptonite to worry.
  12. Practice your faith. Studies show that those who believe in a higher-power and practice their faith do better on mental health scales, including anxiety. So if you believe in a higher-power, hand over your worries to him/her/it/them.

May you be relieved of the suffering of your own anxiety. May you know peace.

clip problems dont worry

Sabrina Santa Clara – Authentic Alchemy x3
Spiritual Counseling – Temecula, CA

Jun 132013

As a holistic  counselor and Dance/Movement Therapist, safety plays a large role in my work with people. We all need a safe harbor to come home; When we don’t have that, we are never able to fully rest. But rest is not our purpose. Our purpose is to follow our purpose, then to rest so that we can continue to go back out and follow our purpose.

There is always a risk in following our purpose. We may have to sacrifice something practical to live it, like  limiting our social life to write that book we’ve been meaning to. We may have to give up a belief about who we are. We must always risk failing, as that’s true of any action we take. If we do not take the risk to live our life’s purpose we will never be fully satisfied. We may have a decent life, but there will always be that nagging dissatisfaction, the “I wish I would have…”

May our purpose be clear and may we all be courageous enough to follow our Life’s Purpose.

clip boat is safe harbor

Sabrina Santa Clara ~ Authentic Alchemy x3
Holistic Counseling in Temecula CA

Jun 102013

Often in my work with adults, I help them to reclaim some of the characteristics that were lost from childhood, such as the capacity to play with abandon, to be completely engaged in the present moment, to not care what others think of us, to dance because it feels good being unaware of whether or not it looks good, and to have a temper tantrum when it all gets too much. Now, I know that in reality, we have to learn how to not have temper tantrums in a grocery stores – but why can’t we have one in the privacy of our home? Intentional temper tantrums are a great way to get the excess energy out.

Words are like that too. Children don’t have much of a filter when it comes to speaking. They will tell you “I think you’re pretty” one moment and “I hate you!” the next. In our socialization into adulthood, we necessarily learn how to filter, and to set boundaries on our own behavior. The problem is we learn to contain too much of our natural impulses, so we cage in both the harmful and the helpful – we eek out both the “I hate you” and “I love you.” And in that process we limit our pain but also our joy as well as the pain and joy we might elicit in others.

All of us want more joy and less suffering. If you want more joy and more sweet feeling in your life, one path to that is to soften the restraint of your connective and joyful impulses, which actually may be pushed so far underground that you might not even be aware of them. This is part of the practice of mindfulness and embodiment – to come into contact with our sweet impulses and to develop practices that encourage loving impulse.

Today, I encourage you to notice others while looking for the good. Did your husband do something kind and thoughtful? Tell him how much you appreciate it. Tell your wife she’s beautiful, sexy, smart, etc. And let not your words of grace be reserved for your loved ones. Give them liberally out to strangers. Did your server give you great service? Tell him. Does the clerk have a sweet smile? Tell her. Do you like the way someone’s dressed? Share it. Does the stranger in the elevator smell good? Speak it.  Notice with a kind eye because we are all far too often unseen in the world. So, I dare you to practice this for one day. Give out compliments with abandon. Notice the reactions in the receiver and the gift you give when your words of kindness reach the ears and heart of another human being. Notice, too, how you feel inside after a day of giving others the gift of noticing and complimenting. Kindness breeds kindness and love breeds love. When we let our words speak the language of love, we feel the love within our own hearts. So if you want more love, give more love.

May your day be filled with beautiful connections and words of grace and kindness.

clips words dumbledoor

Sabrina Santa Clara / Authentic Alchemy x3
Spiritual Counseling ~ Temecula, CA