Anxiety is the body’s response to a perceived threat. The definition is deliberately broad because we all experience anxiety differently. But when we break it down, even if the cause – the perceived threat – is not real, the experience of anxiety is very real. It can cause much pain and suffering, affecting people on all levels; having an impact on the wellbeing of a person’s mental, emotional, physical, even social, sexual and spiritual life. Due to the unique nature of each person’s experience, the management of anxiety takes time because it depends on what is causing it. In this article, I discuss the management of my client experiences of anxiety using Reiki.
“What’s wrong with me?” is often a question that is asked by the person who is experiencing anxiety. The tight chest, the shortness in breath, the looping cycle of thoughts that won’t stop, the stomach aches, the restless legs, or the quick temper. These are just some of the common symptoms of anxiety. And very often, there’s even more than one. Whatever the way it shows up in the body, there is one thing that they have in common… they are all responses to experiencing fear. It doesn’t matter whether the fear is real or not. To the individual’s body, it is very real and that’s why there is nothing “wrong” with the person.
But why does it affect us so much?
If an experience we have is perceived as very good or very bad, it will come with an emotional charge – a reaction. And our bodies remember the experience and the response it caused. Your body is actually very little physical matter, but instead mostly made up of energy (in fact 99.9999999%), so these experiences are stored at a cellular level.
We have no choice over what we store or not, the body works that out based on the way an experience made us feel – the charge. So, It has nothing to do with the actual event itself, but rather the response to it. Trauma is never about the event, it is defined by the response or the way it made us feel. What is traumatic to one person may be experienced differently to another.
Since you were in the womb, your body has been storing these reactions. In fact, in the first 7 years of your life, your body has been learning how to be “human” and understanding what it needs to do, be, have, and avoid in order for it to survive. At a very primal level, your body’s only objective is to survive. So that’s exactly what it is learning to do.
So when we respond anxiously to an event as an adult, you can expect that you have actually been responding this way probably since childhood to similar kinds of threats or events. In my experience with clients and with myself, there is usually a similar pattern that can be identified in why the response is fear-based. In other words, if the event is perceived as a threat or dangerous to the individual, i.e. causes high levels of stress to the point where they feel like they will be put in danger, then the individual’s body will respond through “anxiety”.
As you can see, anxiety here is just a label that has been created to name the response.
Labels can be great for understanding and validating what we feel. But sometimes, they can just emphasise the issue and an individual can become attached to the label so much that it becomes a part of who they are and their identity. This makes it really difficult to manage anxiety or the symptoms of anxiety because when it defines their personality (or personal reality), the question starts to be asked – who am I without it?
Of course, none of what I am writing about here applies to every case, but I have certainly seen evidence of this. And when there is this attachment, it makes it difficult to truly understand the triggers of the anxiety, when it began and then work towards finding ways to manage it and eventually get it under control to a point where your body is no longer the one controlling you but instead your actions, responses and feeling are an expression of your highest self, rather than your self in survival mode. You begin living from a place of love rather than fear.
When we live from a place of love and our day to day choices are based on what is in our best interest to help us thrive, we begin to expand and grow. When we make decisions based on avoiding perceived threats or things that might endanger us or cause pain, we contract and live in scarcity and fear.
So how do you manage anxiety and move away from fear and into love?
From my experience working with clients with symptoms of anxiety, no matter what the symptoms are or how it shows up and affects their life, this is what I have found to be true.
There is always a fundamental cause of the anxiety around feeling unsafe.
This makes sense because remember our definition is that anxiety is a body response to a perceived threat. It is also usually linked to a limiting belief. It might be an ancestral pattern that was also shared by a parent or caregiver or it may have come from a past life or just from childhood trauma experience.
I have three different examples of how a limiting belief shows up and causes anxiousness in my clients.
- One client believes she is unsafe if she is not in control. She lives from this lens and because of that, there are many things that cause her to feel anxious throughout her day to day. Whenever anything happens in her life that makes her feel out of control, it triggers her symptoms of anxiety to arise.
- Another client believes she is unsafe in a happy and healthy relationship because she has a limiting belief that she isn’t worthy of it. Since things started getting serious with her partner, her anxiety is showing up stronger than ever.
- One more client believes money makes her unsafe, so when she receives large sums of money her anxiety shows up and the actions she takes (what she then does with her money) is based on this belief.
As you can see, none of the examples above are what you’d consider “rational” but they’re all very real and very very true for each person. So the first step to managing anxiety is understadning what the belief is. The two questions to be explored here are:
- Can you identify the pattern for when the symptoms of anxiety show up?
- When you experience a trigger, what is it that makes you feel unsafe about the situation?
The next thing to try and understand is where this comes from. My favourite way of doing this is now to get out of the head and connect with the body instead through Reiki:
Step 1. Prepare to do a self Reiki practice. You may choose a crystal to also connect with that you feel drawn to use.
Step 2. Connect with Reiki and allow yourself to be held in this high vibration of unconditional love.
Step 3. When you are feeling relaxed and supported, now start to shift your focus to something that has triggered your anxiety recently.
Step 4. Identify where you start feeling this in your body – how does it show up and where. Perhaps it’s a Chakra or body part.
Step 5. Ask this part of your body what is happening here, why does it feel the way it does, just be guided by it – perhaps you need to ask why it feel unsafe.
Sep 6. Ask where this has come from and why it reacts this way. What does it believe? Who does this believe come from and when did it begin? You may or may not get all the answers you need on this first try but don’t try to force anything, just gently and compassionately go with it. If you ever feel unsafe or resistant to answering questions or exploring it further, just stop. You are in total control here and come back to connecting with the unconditional love of Reiki. Remind yourself you are safe and okay. Here and now you are safe, you might want to clasp your crystal tighter to remind and ground yourself too.
Step 7. When you feel like Step 6 is complete, return to your Reiki connection and focus the energy of Reiki onto your body part. Send it and hold it in unconditional love and compassion. There is no room for judgement during this practice, just love. Love is the antidote to fear so stay here as long as you need to. While you’re here you may start saying something to yourself that has come through intuitively – a new belief that might counter the limiting belief.
For example, you might want to try something like “I am in control, I am loved, I am worthy, I am enough, I am okay, I am responsible, I can choose the way I want to live” etc. The options are endless but it should be in your very own words (or even the words of you younger self who possibly created the limiting belief in the first place).
Step 8. When you feel like your practice is complete, take a moment to note down in a journal any insights that have come up. It’s also important to note down how you want to feel instead. Then start finding evidence each day to support why and how you can start reframing your beliefs. For example, if you want to start believing you’re enough then find evidence of things you do or people in your life that support your new narrative. Then every time these old thoughts pop up, the hard work comes in that you need to override them and stop them in their tracks. It’s hard work because you’re up agains years and years of old conditioning. But that does not mean it can’t be done! It just means you have to be committed.
Ultimately, we are the ones who have co-created the life we live based on limitation. So, it’s up to us to do the work now to flip it around and co-create a life based on expansion and love. This isn’t going to happen immediately, but the more we start being aware of what has held us back, the more we can make the conscious choices we need to start living a life that moves us forward.
And now, I hope you’ll start seeing your symptoms of anxiety not something that defines you but something that is protecting you. Something that deserves your ultimate love and compassion. Something that gives you insights into what alignment means for you. You deserve to be heard and healed. Every part of you, even the parts you so desperately wish you can hide. They’re not parts of you that need to be ignored, but instead parts of you that hold so much wisdom about who you truly are and why you’re here.
All my love