Releasing Anxiety and Stress
with Hanna Somatics
So many of us live with low, medium, or high levels of anxiety and stress all day and night, every day and night.
Some of the things my clients, family, friends, and myself have experienced, sometimes with great frequency, include chest pressure, jumpiness, a racing heartbeat, shallow breathing, insomnia, constant negative self talk, headaches, nervous stomach, distractedness, and irritability.
How does Hanna Somatic Education help us cope with this. My own answer is to have a daily movement practice that always makes me feel calmer, less distracted, and more present.
Do I want to do it everyday? No. But I do it, and it helps. Some days it helps a lot!
You can learn the Daily Cat Routine as created by Thomas Hanna from his book, Somatics, p. 99 and from many of my YouTubes.
For me, the key is to start.
That is, I lie down on the floor on a mat. If I’m in a negative mood, I just lie there and let the negative chatter talk through me. My internal dialogue might go something like this, “I just don’t feel like doing this; so what if I miss a day; I’ve got to much to do today; I’m hungry; I’ll do it later; it’s too cold on the floor; I should walk the dog; I need to get in the shower and wash my hair; I need to get to the grocery store before it gets too crowded; …” And then at some point I find myself doing some Arch and Flattens. It feels pretty good. I can do this. I put my attention on my low back and notice how that feels. I might notice I’m holding my breath, or veering off to one side of my body, or moving too quickly. I slow down, I focus on breathing more comfortably and moving with more ease. I realize I’ve started and I’m now into my daily movement practice.
Focusing on the arch-release-flatten-release-repeat, has brought me into myself, and I continue. The chatter quiets. I pay attention to how it feels to do each movement in comfort, slowly, for myself and no one else. This is my time.
Some movements feel restricted. Sometimes I’m achy, sometimes a limb feels so heavy I can hardly move it at all, sometimes I feel pain. I let the discomfort direct my attention toward doing the movement differently: smaller, slower, even in my imagination. I hunt for what feels good or at least better. I do some exploration. Maybe doing the movement on the other side will feel better? Maybe doing the opposite movement is the only way I can feel comfortable that day. Maybe I experiment with doing another movement first, and see if that helps the previous movement feel more comfortable. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t.
The process continues. I move on to another movement.
Some days my focus is present and clear. I’m really in the flow. I’m absorbed in experiencing the sensations from the movements I’m doing. Some days I never completely get rid of the negative chatter, anxiety, or stress in the background, but I keep going. Invariably I have break-through moments of pleasure, or learning, or something positive. I feel the internal “smile” journey through my body. I feel a “shift.” Those are wonderful moments.
I move on to another movement, another focus, another experience.
Whether that day’s movement time was an unimpeded glide or a slog or something in between, I always feel better. What I've noticed over time is that the issue of background anxiety and stress has faded. Overall I feel more alive.
The key for me is to lie down on the floor and start.