OK, as promised in my last blog post, I’m sharing a simple technique from Tolle’s “Practicing the Power of Now” that can help anyone with PTSD — or anyone else, for that matter, who ever feels anxious.
One of my main PTSD symptoms has been trying to anticipate what other people are going to do or say. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. When you live with an abusive person, you never know what will set him off. So you walk around wondering if the simple act of breathing is going to make him lash out. You watch his every move, hang on his every word, searching for a clue: is he angry? WIll he try to harm me now? Will he try to kill me now?
I’ve spent the last few months really working on ridding myself of these symptoms. Something in the Tolle audio book that has helped is simply becoming rooted in my physical body.
If, for example, I’m on the subway and I start to feel anxious about other people’s movements, I can return myself to my physical body and focus on it, instead of on my racing thoughts (“Will he bump me with his elbow?” “Will she scowl at me when I have to push past her?”). I simply start to watch those thoughts pass by, and I concentrate my attention on my physical self. I start at my feet and work my way up, noticing how I’m physically feeling.
I also focus on my breathing. I breathe consciously and notice how it physically feels to inhale and exhale.
Within a couple of minutes, any anxiety I had has passed. I can continue to literally watch any anxious thoughts and not judge myself for them. It’s almost like they’re not a part of me.
Have you ever tried techniques like this (also called “mindfulness,” I believe)? If so, please leave a comment. I’d like to hear if they work for you.