Coping with Fear & How to Hold Space for Yourself in Times of Coronavirus

by Anam Kat Langer

 

As we all find ourselves in the tightening grip of worrying news and restrictive measures around the worldwide spread of coronavirus, many of us are facing overwhelming feeling states and emotions, perhaps more deeply than ever before. These past days may have felt like a rollercoaster ride, a bad dream or, perhaps, more real than anything ever has.

Fear seems to be the common theme, whether we are feeling it, getting pulled in, swept under by waves of anger, anxiety, hope and helplessness or even depression – or whether we are the ones condemning it as the source of all evil and, perhaps, even the virus itself. Wherever you find yourself on the spectrum, there is no right or wrong. We are ALL in this together, perhaps for the first time in the history of humankind on a truly global scale, and everyone is uniquely affected by what is unfolding right in front of our eyes.

Whether we are facing financial loss, fear of an uncertain future or the possibility of an infection or even death – how “real” any of those fears are is irrelevant because when you find yourself gripped and consumed by fear it is a very real experience, for your body and your mind. The energy of fear is powerful as it bypasses the conscious frontal lobes of our brain and directly triggers the reptilian part of the brain into fight-or-flight mode, bringing all our reactive survival patterns, including our worst traits and traumas we thought we had long overcome, to the surface. Whilst our limbic and reptilian brain is hijacked, our body releases stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline causing a range of physical reactions which may show up as severe symptoms of physical illness or even emergency.

So the belief that fear is “all in the head” is true to some extent and yet completely irrelevant as the experience of fear is a very real one, both physically and psychologically. It is also important to remember that the fear-triggered fight-or-flight response is very much perfect for what it is – an essential part of our human nature and ability to survive in this world!

In the following, we share some tips and practices to help you hold space for yourself during these challenging times – so we may all, individually and collectively, find love and acceptance for what is and contribute to the healing that we and this world so desperately need and seek at this time.

 

  • Be gentle with yourself: As pointed out above, the feeling of fear is a completely natural and real experience so let’s start by not blaming ourselves and/or others for feeling distressed and small! Most people’s fuses seem a little shorter than usual these days, so whether you find yourself (or others) more reactive or perhaps tearful, anxious or simply not your usual self, KNOW THAT THIS IS NORMAL. The moment we stop judging ourselves and others for feeling a certain way is the moment we can start to invite compassion towards ourselves and the world around us.
  • Resourcing: Through the practice of resourcing, we consciously bring ourselves back to a place of safety within ourselves. At all times, and particularly in stressful times, it is important to know what resources, both internal and external, are available for us to call upon. Start by making a list of external resources, e.g. people, places, activities or things in the material world that help calm you down and bring you joy. External resources may include loved ones, pets, music, your home, nature spots, hobbies or things you simply enjoy. If you have access to those resources, you may be able to connect with them directly, otherwise it also helps to simply bring them to life in your mind in a vivid way. Now turn inwards and find your internal resources, any part(s) in your body to which you feel connected, that feel comfortable & safe. Internal resources may also include memories or thoughts that bring you comfort or joy. Whichever resources you are able to access, practise resting your awareness in them for as long as you can and until you feel calm and present again.
  • Use Your Felt Sense: When we find ourselves trapped in the fear response, it can help to consciously identify and untangle our emotions and physical feeling states using the practice of Felt Sense. You can start right here by taking a moment to bring awareness to any part(s) of your body that are calling for your attention right now – perhaps noticing a burning pain, some discomfort, tension or tightness – or by consciously scanning through your body from head to feet, simply recognizing what is present in your body right now. Stay for as long as necessary wherever you feel called and find the words to describe the physical sensations that are present in this part of the body – anything from temperature, texture, colours, density, weight, etc. There may also be some emotional undertones or charge or even memories or painful thoughts that arise during this investigation. Find a description for what it is you are discovering and then watch how this experience changes simply by acknowledging it and giving it a description. Don’t get lost in whatever it is this is coming up, simply give it space and move on towards the next body part until you feel done. If you do start to feel overwhelmed by emotions or physical sensations, practise resourcing (see above) to help you return to presence.
  • Grounding: Earthing and grounding are powerful and essential techniques to help us return from an activated mind-based state into a calmer embodied space. If you are able to be outdoors, connect your bare feet consciously with the ground (and preferably straight on the earth), walking barefoot whilst directing your awareness and energy down through your legs and feet into the earth. If you are unable to be outside during this time, any conscious connection with the ground will do. You may even want to bring your whole body in contact with and roll on the ground or simply spend some time sitting on the floor with your awareness on the body parts that touch the ground. Embodiment practices, such as yoga, dance & somatic breathwork practices also help to re-connect and balance the body-mind. Physical touch is another beautiful way of grounding and connecting with the body – in times of social distancing you may want to try giving yourself a massage and connect through your own touch.
  • Take extra good care of yourself: Spend as much time and energy as you can on self-care. Make a point of disconnecting from news and social media and focus on what nourishes your being – and yes, that includes eating well, drinking plenty of water, looking after your body and making sure that your primary needs for food, shelter, sleep & connection are met as well and as comfortably as possible.
  • Reach out for support: Know that you do not have to do this on your own. If you feel overwhelmed and unable to hold space for yourself, the kindest thing to do for yourself is to reach out and ask for support – speak to a counsellor or therapist offering online sessions, contact your family & friends or find a supportive community online. If you feel isolated or you are very used to holding your own space, reaching out and connecting with someone through your experience could bring a great deal of healing to your being, at this moment in time as well as in future.

Our team is available during this time for online breathwork, coaching & counselling sessions and we offer free daily live meditations & embodiment practices through Facebook, as well as a wide selection of videos featuring home-practice breathwork and somatic practices through our Youtube channel. See below for a list of support resources that we offer through the BBTRI.

 

Resources from the BioDynamic Breathwork & Trauma Release Institute:

BBTRI Facebook Page – daily live meditations starting Mar 23

BBTRI Youtube Channel – BBTRI Youtube Channel containing many home-practice and educational videos on Breathwork, Felt Sense, Resourcing, Meditations, etc

BBTRI website – online Breathwork sessions with Giten Tonkov

Tao of Gratitude – online Counselling sessions with Chetana Lauren Barkan

Sacred Inquiry Youtube Channel – Videos on Building Resilience with Prema McKeever

Breath Awakening – 14-day online breathwork course with Nisarga Eryk Dobosz

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