The following exchange is excerpted from emails to and from Lisa over a period of several days between her regular coaching sessions.
LISA: How can I deal better with overwhelming situations?
SUZANNE: Let's try a few questions:
Practice this exercise daily, or more often as needed, and let me know what happens.
LISA: The first place I feel tension/anxiety when I'm overwhelmed is in the crown area, the top and back of my head. Whenever I feel this head tension, I now examine my whole body for other tension. I notice it next in my face, especially around my eyes. Then, I also notice it in my stomach.
I don't recognize the feeling as contraction but rather as tension and anxiety. Perhaps what I call tension and contraction are the same?
When I breathe deeply and connect through my legs and feet, I can relax my stomach and face fairly readily. It takes a very long time (8+ minutes) to breathe relaxation into and out of the gray matter. When the tension in my head finally begins to leave, it lingers at both of my temples before finally relaxing. At first, the relaxation feels too fragile to keep the overwhelm at bay.
With practice, and concentration, however, I am able to hold the relaxation. Then, I feel more open. I am very calm. I can think clearly.
SUZANNE: Thanks for your responses. Keep these questions for future practice, and see what happens over time. Eventually, you will be able to center and relax more quickly, until you get to a point where your awareness and breath will be enough to bring about the relaxation.
The founder of aikido once said he gets off center as much as anyone else, but he returns to center so fast that no one notices that he's been off.
Have fun relaxing!