Monday, March 22, 2010

The breath, overwhelm and the freeze response

One way of switching your attention away from feeling overwhelmed is to focus on your breath. When we feel stressed, anxious or overwhelmed our sympathetic nervous system is engaged, our heart rate speeds up, our arteries constrict and so on. By focusing on our breathing and tapping at the same time, we help to divert our attention in a healthy way but we continue to work on the source of stress, which is important. When we breathe deeply we begin to engage our parasympathetic nervous system which immediately starts to calm our body and therefore us, down. A calm body signifies a calm mind.

Psychiatrist John Diamond writes in Notes on the Spiritual Basis of Therapy
"If we could keep our breath going all the time, we would rarely be sick. Breath is what keeps us healthy. When it falters, as it often does, that's when we start to get sick. That becomes the start of illness. Do everything with coordinated breathing and you will strengthen your whole body. Your body will be resistant to stress and disease".
John Diamond also says that breathing deeply activates the thymus, the source of our life energy. It is interesting to note that our breath jams when we're in the freeze response. Therefore it makes sense that correcting our breathing will help to discharge some of the immobilised energy that the freeze response generates. Tapping diagram.

All things share the same breath - the beast, the tree, the man... the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports ~ Chief Seattle


AW said...

Not always easy at the time but, what if you became overwhelmed about your overwhelm?

Happy Travels


Noreen said...

I think that nearly always happens, if we remember it's our nervous system trying to expel an enormous and powerful amount of energy and we help it along by staying in the observer position as much as possible, and we tap and breathe as well, we will help calm the nervous system down and we can discharge the frozen energy so it does not become stuck. Identifying with the overwhelm gets us lost in it.