Even though meditation practices offer us a way to recenter and settle into a focused, quiet state of mind and body, for some people the process of doing a sitting meditation creates anxiety. For these people, rather than bringing pleasure and relaxation, focusing inside is an uncomfortable experience, and may activate fear instead of calm. When we’ve been hurt as children, or struggle with anxiety or panic for any reason, we often learn to ignore or push away awareness of what was going on inside ourselves. By definition, most meditation asks us to focus on being aware of our awareness – just the opposite of what we may have done historically in an effort to feel safe and comfortable in our own skin.
Another way to recenter yourself is to do the following breathing exercise. It supports your body’s natural capacity to settle down into a more relaxed state.
Variations on this particular breathing exercise can be found, in various forms, in most yoga and meditation traditions. As with all exercises for recentering, experiment with what follows and see if it gives you another useful tool.
Variations of this meditation are found in each of my books, and it’s one of my favorite approaches to accessing possibility. All it requires is a willingness to suspend disbelief, reach beyond what you know today, and accept change in your life. For most of us, change can be scary, even when it moves in a positive direction, so a willingness to dare to engage the unknown is key to working with optimal future self parts of you.
When you reach out to your optimal future self, you do so from your deep wisdom, rather than from any conscious, preconceived idea of what your future self will be like or how things will unfold as you move toward your goal. Because of this, it’s important to allow impressions of your future self to drop into the back of your mind – to arrive in awareness, in a sense – rather than to try to figure out anything up in the front of your mind.