Using a mindful approach to conquer fears
Last week, I was lucky enough to get a week away. We were staying on a rocky island and I was able to swim every day in the sea. Paradise for me!
The sea was calm and crystal clear. One of those that I could see right down to the bottom as I got in. However, it was on a pretty steep ocean shelf and the rocks underneath disappeared not far from the coast.
On my swim, I noticed that I was comfortable swimming when the sea floor was pretty close to me and I could see it. When I swam a little further out, the floor dropped away and could see nothing but deep blue and the occasional fish. This was beautiful but I was also aware that as the floor disappeared, my fear centre kicked in. I notice my heart rate rise and my breathing became more difficult. A voice in my head kicked in, telling me to turn back and that it wasn’t safe.
I persisted for a bit but then, feeling more and more uncertain and less comfortable, I felt it was time to turn back.
Once back on dry land, I made a decision to work with my fear of the deep and try to mindfully regulate the anxiety a little more on my next swim as I wanted to make it around the corner of the bay we were staying in.
The next day I managed a little further by using this mindful approach to the swim. I regulated my breathing, and brought my awareness to what was actually going on around me rather than the voice in my head that wanted to turn back. I made it further than I did the day before but the fear rose again and I decided to swim back.
By the time the week ended, I had a couple of days where I was able to make it out of the bay past the deep drop in the ocean floor and around to a secret cove where I felt like an explorer discovering a secret pert of the world.
It was my own place of solitude and felt very special.
I thought of the parallels of how I work with clients in therapy.
Depending on the issue, I will encourage clients to push into the boundaries of areas in their life where they feel anxiety is preventing them from moving forward.
This is always done with care and an eye on what’s the limit for that person at that moment in time.
Often this will feel scary and new.
But the rewards can be a greater ability to cope with challenging situations that we could not or would not approach before.
The result of this can be a fuller life with more experiences, more engagement with others and the world around us.
I’m interested to know how are you pushing yourself out in to the deeper waters of your life right now?
Are there areas where you could be edging into those restrictive beliefs?
How can you step into this a little?
I’d love to hear how you’re doing this in your life.
If this resonates and you feel like sharing, let me know.