Focusing on breathing gives me anxiety

You might have heard so many times: “when you get anxious focus on your breath” and, if focusing on your breath makes you more agitated, you might have thought you’re doing something wrong, or that there’s something wrong with you.

No, you’re not doing anything wrong, there’s nothing wrong with you, and you’re definitely not alone.

If at any point in your life you experienced trauma - (you can check this post on "What defines a traumatic event") - to keep your attention so closely focused onto your internal world, your body, and your breath, can feel extremely overwhelming.

That’s also very normal, as your breath is one of the key activations during a traumatic event and, to focus directly on it, can bring you straight back to the event - even if not consciously aware of it-

So here a few things you can do if your anxiety gets triggered when meditating while focussing on your breath:

  • You can try and shift your position, noticing if that allows for different ways of breathing

  • You can find an external anchor to focus your attention on. Instead of focusing on your breath, you can focus on the humming of the fridge, or the birds signing outside, or an image: anything very concrete and related to the present moment, that is not part of your body

  • You can open your eyes, check your environment, become aware again that you’re in a safe moment, in a safe space and, when you feel ready, going back to where you left

I hope these tips will be useful to you and, if you have any question you'd like to have answered, every Friday morning at 10:30am CEST I host a Live in my Facebook group.

You can click here to join.

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