How do you connect to your inner calm when you feel overwhelmed by worry, anxiety, anger or fear? Depending on the intensity of my anger or how disoriented I may feel in the moment, different strategies for grounding are more accessible than others. Like, taking a walk outside just isn’t wise at midnight in the dark streets of Hollywood. But box breathing can be just what I can pause to do where I am. It’s helpful to have a variety in your toolbox that you can use at any given moment. Here are 9 you may or may not have tried:
1. Box Breathing (Sama Vitti Pranayama, in sanskrit): Inhale 4 counts. Hold your breath 4 counts. Exhale 4 counts. Hold your breath 4 counts. Repeat slowly and as usefully as you can for 7-10 cycles.
2. Take a walk outside: Get some fresh air and sunshine and just take a break from the physical space and position you were in when you started to feel overwhelm.
3. Orienting (for self-regulation): Slowly scan your immediate environment, using your senses. Listen, see, smell, touch and taste to become more present.
4. Practice being a witness of your mind: Set a timer for 5-20 minutes and sit still silently. Allow your thoughts and breath to flow naturally as you observe them without judgment. Feel your quiet inner presence beneath the thoughts and breath movement. This is also mindful awareness.
5. Hum a monotone: Taking deep breaths, place your hands on your chest center and hum a repeated monotone aloud. Feel your soothing sound vibration, and focus your attention on the sound.
6. Move your body: Let your body just move freely as it needs to release the energetic impulse of stress or overwhelm. Check out soul movement here.
7. Self-Inquiry Journaling: Free-write in a state of open flow, or ask your inner guidance, "What do I need to know right now?" Write a letter to yourself from your inner guidance.
8. Observe nature: Sit or move in nature and pay close attention to a flower, leaf or another object or being that catches your eye. With childlike enthusiasm, take in the details.
9. Walking meditation: Walk very slowly nd feel each breath in and out. Feel your weight distribution in each step. Try silently saying to yourself as you inhale, "I am..." and as you exhale, "Connected to all."
As I’ve learned from practicing yoga these past 19 years, the more I use my grounding tools as a daily practice, the easier it is to remember they’re there and to use them when I fall into moments of overwhelm. Learning techniques on your own is one thing, but to have a like-hearted community to practice regularly with can help instill strong habits. Additionally, together you can share ideas, intentions, insights, questions, roadblocks, solutions and encouragement. Moreover, having a mindful relatable facilitator can also help you integrate theory into practice. Check out Tools for Clarity, our live online workshop exploring yoga, meditation and mindfulness techniques that apply yogic wisdom beyond yoga poses to help ground through life's overflowing river.
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