Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Experiencing ANXIETY from a different perspective

AnXiEtY - comes in many different forms from debilitating, to annoying, to nonstop, to somewhat under control, to life-saving and to hopefully, a place of calm. Anxiety does not come from out of nowhere. It is produced by our thoughts. Usually, thoughts about the past or future. Unless we are eye-to-eye with a real threat, which is about fear, anxiety is something that comes from our beliefs and thought patterns. I believe in the idea of seeing anxiety and the emotions connected to anxiety as energy. Therefore, if we can change our thoughts, we can decrease our anxiety. Sounds easy, right, well, research is discovering that there is another component to lowering anxiety and that is emotional energy, which Peter Strong, PhD calls, Emotional Feeling Energy. He goes on to say, that this is "what gives meaning and power to our thoughts." "These beliefs become trapped energy."
Art directive
From an art therapy perspective, I would ask, what does this energy look, feel, taste, smell and sound like? What shape is it? What color is it? Then, I would ask you to draw this image. Pick a color that represents this energy or emotion. After you put the image on a piece of paper, practice introducing another color that modifies or allows the original color to feel better. Surround your anxiety image with this new color and work with altering and introducing this new color into the original color. Be mindful of how you feel during this process and if your anxiety shifts. This idea is not to get rid of the anxiety, but to work on modifying the energy so it doesn't feel as intense.
Try practicing this exercise and be aware of any shifts in your anxiety. Journal about the process. Remember, to practice being with the feeling that you are experiecing instead of the anxiety. The feeling will not kill you. Try not to run from it. Be still and allow the feeling to be acknowledged.

Quotes taken from Peter Strong, PhD: www.mindfulnessmeditationtherapy.com