I call them “hamsters”, the voices in my head.
Of course, they are not actually “voices” – they are my own voice, repeating all the things I should worry about. My anxiety causes the chatter of hamsters. They run on their wheels and do not like to be calm. They spend all day finding reasons to worry, and continue running on their wheel.
But how do we quiet the hamsters? How do we tame the inner voices?
I wondered this for YEARS. I thought I was just broken… but I’m not. At all.
The answer? Breathing.
I know, it sounds simple. You’re probably thinking “I breath all the time” but how often to you breath deliberately. How often do you take the time to take deep and meaningful breaths?
A few months ago, my answer would have been “never”.
I caught myself holding my breath more often than I caught myself breathing on purpose.
When people say “just breath”, that notion just passes by like it’s totally generic advice and most people will say “yeah yeah, just breath” but it spawns from the advice of breathing on purpose.
It’s actually great advice, even if it sounds like “what everyone says”.
De-li-be-rate breaths. THAT’s the advice behind the advice.
It was through years of therapy, and meeting various shrinks, that I narrowed down what works best for me in terms of HOW to breath. Breathing is easy – we do it everyday. But how do we breath right? How do we breath deeply? Are we taking the time to breath or rushing through it? Seems simple, it does, but it’s at the root of everything. It calms the chaos, and even helps our cells heal our bodies. Breathing is in itself the answer to a lot of issues with mind and body.
Seems so simple doesn’t it?
It’s not. At first. But with practice, it becomes easier.
What works for me is counting my breaths. You may find other options or techniques that work for you, or this might help too. Just remember to listen to your body – go within and listen to what your body is feeling. Even if it’s just for a few long, deliberate breaths at a time. Just breeeeeeeeeeeeath.
Here’s how it started for me. A simple count.
Breath in… 1…. 2….
Slowly and deliberately.
And then if that feels good, keep that up for a minute or two. If you feel yourself sinking into a comfortable zone with it, you can even increase it: 1….2…3…. or even 4, for both in and/or out.
Try that and see how your body feels. Your blood will circulate better, your heart rate will slow down to a better level, and things happening around you will not stress you out the same way. You’ll see.
At first, I sat comfortably to do it, like meditation – now I do this exercise anytime, at work, while driving, at the grocery store — I just count in my head, and breath on purpose. Over and over.
Here’s where it gets fun:
The more I would breath on purpose, the less the hamsters would run. It’s as if the breathing would turn them into these zen hamsters that just sat around, chillin’. I had found the key to feeling calm.
So if you feel your hamsters taking over, just breath – even close your eyes, take a few minutes and breath. In the care, at work, in line at Tim’s. Just take the time to connect with your own breath.
Let me know what you think.
Sounds like the simplest of ideas, but its effects are numerous. This is also how I learned to fall asleep within 10 minutes (when I suffered from insomnia) and how I learned to meditate. It’s like magic.
More on that in my next post… check it out if you’d like!!!
Til then, remember; beyond the fuzzy clouds, there are always clear skies.