I’m passionate about being a mediation teacher and someone who has suffered from mild anxiety and depression and manage it without drugs. I have learned to calm the nervous system with daily mediation and other daily/weekly well-being practices.
My first advice is to check your own level of anxiety and ‘stress’ and determine if you’re in “fight or flight” mode or “rest and digest” mode. If you have a high level of stress, clients will pick up on the energy and restlessness.
As a quick review on stress, there is often no clear cause of it. I do know it can be caused by having little control over things in your life. According to Dr. Joe Dispenza, over 75% of Americans are living in higher Beta Brain Waves which can be calmed by a daily mediation practice.
The “fight or flight” rush sensation is a sign that the sympathetic nervous system has kicked in producing stress hormones. Its job is to activate glands and organs to help us spring into action or defend the body against attack. Most of us can recognize the jolt of adrenaline, the body’s biochemical preparation for fighting or fleeing. An immediate threat, however, is just one reason for running adrenaline. Having sugar, caffeine, cigarettes, or too much alcohol or other drugs can produce the same fight or flight chemistry.
For less anxiety, spend more time in the “rest and digest” mode and less time spent in the “fight or flight” mode. Some other methods other than 20 to 30 minutes of daily mediation are: getting enough sleep, laughter, exercise, eating whole foods, having enough water to drink, cultivating thoughtfulness and gratitude, prayer, music, cultivating therapeutic friendships, and learning to observe, accept, and redirect thought patterns.
Rest, relaxation, contentment, and the kind of thinking and feeling that bring balance and a sense of wellbeing into your life. Biochemically, the adrenaline and cortisol have to be down for parasympathetic ‘rest and digest’ activity to be up.
What Does It Feel Like?
It can feel quiet or composed. You might feel lethargic, but that just means your body is in repair mode. It feels like the opposite of ‘fight or flight’, which can come on fast. The bio-chemicals of ‘fight or flight’ release in a split second. All you have to do is think an alarming thought, have an argument, feel threatened, or ingest something like too much alcohol, caffeine, or cigarettes. Notice your body sensations and practice getting out of “fight or flight” quickly.
I recommend therapy or coaching for support. And also if your serious about a mediation practice. Hire a mediation teacher for best results and accountability.
How Do You Bring On Parasympathetic Activity?
Bringing about parasympathetic activity takes more time than bringing on the biochemistry of fight or flight. To get into healing mode, there is no choice but to relax. For some people, meditation or prayer work. For those who can’t sit still, it’s possible to be more quietly in motion, like walking in nature or swimming laps meditatively.
Because sympathetic and parasympathetic modes oppose one another, resting, digesting and healing can’t take place when survival hormones are running. The bio-chemicals of rest and digest are critical for survival too, but for your long term survival. Nature cannot give you a spurt of relaxation like it can give you a spurt of urgency. If stress mode has been your preferred way of being, you may have to make a conscious effort to slow down and heal, as by practicing yoga or regularly walking in nature. Adrenaline always trumps the chemistry of serenity because we are programmed to produce it faster than we can think, for survival.
How Can You Repair After Years of Too Much “Sympathetic” Activity?
It takes exercising your decision-making muscle to break old, unhealthy patterns and create new healthy patterns. It will take support from your family and friends and a teacher or coach. These changes are not things you are likely to accomplish alone.
Anyone with an addiction or mental health diagnosis is by definition stressed. One of the most powerful things you can do for your health and wellbeing is learning how to spend more time in parasympathetic mode, the ‘rest and digest’ way of being. And I personally feel most people could treat anxiety without drugs.
Some meditation resources are:
Tara Brach’s Guided Mediation -https://www.tarabrach.com/guided-meditations/
Transcendental Mediation- //www.tm.org/
Deepak Chopra - Look for local meditation teacher -https://www.deepakchopra.com/