Learning To Stand In One Place
Telling someone who is in the grips of anxiety to stop and be present it like telling someone who is being chased by a tiger to slow down. Feeling like you want to run away from anxiety is natural. The only problem is the longer we run, the longer we are chased.
Recently I got caught in a cycle of anxiety about my business and my future. I felt like I was running away from this fear that I will fail and never fulfill my potential. And it felt like if I stopped all of those fears and worries would crash down and swallow me.
But then a good friend told me that I needed to relax. He said I was worrying too much and I should just try to be calm. And as soon as he said it I realized that I’d be in as much danger whether I was running or not. I realized that if I could stand still and just be with my anxiety, it might just leave me alone.
So that’s what I did. I accepted that I might fail. I accepted that the future was unknown. I stopped running and as soon as I did I noticed that I no longer felt chased. I noticed that I was able to be more calm and present. And best of all I was about the find the space I need to enjoy my life.
It’s in the Tools
But I didn’t just do it by willing it. I used a series of techniques and practices I’ve developed and learned over the years to help myself and my clients deal with difficult feelings and find the space to breathe.
But of all the tools I used one stood out as being extra helpful. This simple technique which always helped me pause and be present in the midst of anxiety, or anger, or fear is a simple meditation, I like to call “Getting to Know Your Feet.”
The Secret Foot Technique That Cures Anxiety aka “Getting to Know Your Feet.”
This simple meditation is very effective because it helps move the energy out of your head and into your lower extremities. And while it may not address many of the underlying causes of anxiety it is very effective at helping you find an eddy to rest when you are caught in turbulent thoughts.
How to Do It:
(I’ve created a video version of this meditation that you can watch, but I’ll also provide you with written instructions below. )
- Find a Comfortable Seat - You can meditate in almost any position, but for this mediation I would recommend that you sit. Just the act of sitting still can have a calming effect on the mind. If you choose to sit in a chair scoot your body to the front so that both of your feet are firmly on the ground and you can sit tall. If you choose to sit cross legged, make sure your hips are above your knees, as this will keep you low back from aching and your legs from falling asleep.
- Set a Timer - While you can easily do this meditation without a timer, I find that a timed meditation can offer a gentle container to hold your fears and focus your energy. I would recommend you try this meditation for at least 5 mins, but more or less is certainly acceptable.
- Lower Your Eyes - While many traditions meditate with their eyes closed, I recommend you only partially close your eyes. This will keep you alert as well as prevent you from getting lost in your internal world. Of course if this hinders your practice at all please feel free to close your eyes completely.
- Your Left Big Toe - To begin this mediation put all of your attention in your left big toe.
• Without looking at it try to feel how you know that your toe is there.
• What sensations do you feel?
• Does it feel hot or cold?
• Is it tingling at all?
• Do you feel any pressure on it?
• Can you tell the difference between the top and the bottom?
• Do you feel any textures touching it?
• Take a few deeps breaths and just be with the sensation of your left big toe.
- Your Left Toes - Now slowly, starting with your big toe, expand your awareness to include all the toes on your left foot one by one. Once you get to your pinky toe pause and spend a few minutes noticing what you feel. You could even try asking the same questions.
• Without looking how do you know your toes are there.
• What sensations do you feel? Heat or cold? Tingling?
• Do you feel different levels of pressure?
• Can you tell the difference between the top and the bottom of your toes? How about the sides?
• Do you feel any textures touching them? Are the textures all the same?
• Take a few deeps breaths and just be with the sensation of your left foot’s toes.
- Your Left Foot Bottom - Now slowly expand your awareness again to include the bottom or your left foot. Run through these question again noticing any sensations, temperature, texture, or pressure that draws you attention. Then spend a few breaths feeling the entire bottom of your left foot.
- And Beyond- Continue this process as you expand your awareness to include your whole left foot, your right big toe, your right foot toe’s, the top of your right foot, and the whole of your right foot.
If at any point you begin to lose touch with your feet, return back to the previous point of focus until you can regain clarity.
What If I Worry Anyway?
The primary intention of this mediation is to feel your body and let go of the stories and anxiety that are spinning around your head. Of course sometimes your anxiety will win out and you will find yourself caught up in thoughts about the past and the future. If this happens, know that this is normal.
You haven’t failed at this mediation, you aren’t a bad mediator, and there is indeed hope for you to find peace. If you notice yourself getting caught, just return to the meditation. Notice the thoughts, accept them, and return to your feet.
If you do this, you’re doing it right. If you don’t do this but notice you aren’t doing it, you’re doing it right. The intention is to help you get grounded, not to make you the perfect meditation master. Use this mediation to touch into that place in your body where everything is perfect.