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Your Anxiety Toolkit

Your Anxiety Toolkit aims to provide you with helpful tools to manage anxiety, stress and other emotions that get in the way.
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Now displaying: March, 2016
Mar 31, 2016

The First and Second Arrow

During this podcast, I hope to give you some tools to manage judgment, or what is sometimes called “the second arrow”.   My hope is that this podcast can help you have a more non-judgmental relationship with your body and your body’s experience of anxiety and discomfort.  

Intended for those suffering OCD, Anxiety, Panic, Eating Disorders, Depression, Stress and worry. 

NOTICING with Non Judgment: MEDITATION

Take a long, deep breathe in.   And slowly exhale. Take another. As you breathe in and out, congratulate yourself for taking the time to do this. Just stopping and breathing can be difficult and uncomfortable when you are managing life, anxiety and stress. Good job!

Again, take a nice deep breathe in and slowly exhale. If you find that taking a deep breathe is too uncomfortable, just breathe at a depth and pace that feels good for you. There is no “right” way to do this. 

Now, I want you to continue to breathe in this fashion, but as you breathe, notice where in your body you feel discomfort. Is it in your chest? Your stomach? Your forehead? Your shoulders? Just do a quick inventory and just notice where your discomfort lies.

Once you have identified the areas in which you are uncomfortable, I want you to practice just breathing while you notice these discomforts. Take some time to experience the discomfort.   Try to just be with it, without running away from it.  

Again, good job. This is not easy.

Now, as you notice where your discomfort lies, I now want you to notice if there are any judgments about your experience. These judgments come in the form of thoughts, such as “I cant do this” or “I shouldn’t be this anxious”. Maybe you are having the thought.. “this feeling is awful!” or “I hate that I feel this way and I shouldn’t have to feel this way” . You might start to compare yourself to others, having thoughts like “Most people don’t feel this way, something must be wrong with me”.

These thoughts are all judgments.             Judgments are not facts.         They are usually a person’s personal reflection on an event, often subjective to their beliefs and views. They are often not true at all.

When it comes to judgments, I love the Buddhist parable about the first and second arrow. This parable uses the metaphor that when we experience an event that causes discomfort in us, it is similar to being hit by an arrow.   In this case, we will call that first experience of discomfort “The first arrow”.   The first arrow is something that we cannot control and is challenging, even painful. If we were to look back at our experience at the beginning of this meditation, the “first arrow” would be the physical discomfort you noticed when you first did an inventory of your body.

The second arrow is the judgment that we have about the discomfort we experienced. These judgments are often what reinforces the pain and discomfort. The second arrow is a personal narrative that pulls us into a pattern of faulty thinking about our experience and our ability to tolerate anxiety and the discomfort that is present. 

The sensations and judgments you experienced just a few minutes ago is a great example of this. I invited you to notice your discomfort, and it is common to immediately follow this noticing with a judgment about our experience.     It is the judgments such as “I cant handle this” or “This feeling should not be here” that makes the first event even harder. In fact, we could argue that the judgment is what can keeps the discomfort around….it keeps us feeling fearful, discouraged and sometimes hopeless.

So, lets go back to noticing. Notice again where you are uncomfortable, or remember back to an event that caused you discomfort. When you observe this event or feeling, the first arrow, you might start to notice feel those second arrows coming up again.

 If you were to remove that second arrow, the judgment, you would begin to see that this event or this feeling, is, in fact, just an event or feeling. And also, it is temporary.  

If we strip ourselves of judgment, we can allow this moment to be just what it is; a moment. It is neither good, nor bad.   And now, in THIS very moment, it might be slightly different to the moment you experienced just a few moments ago.

So, to conclude this mediation, I encourage you to go into the day, noticing first and second arrows. You might be surprised how often you are spearing yourself with an arrow that is not necessary.

I will be offering other podcasts that I hope will be helpful for you, so keep checking in. Please feel free to comment below on the blog page

 I hope you have a wonderful day!

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