Anxiety is normal, a warning sign that something is wrong and that we need to be alert. During these troubling times, being vigilant is essential. However, we have to be vigilant in a way that doesn’t consume us, paralyze us, or have us act in some way that might be too reactive and without conscious forethought. In this series of blogs on anxiety, you’ll find conscious breathing practices suited for each Enneagram type, starting first with the Head Center types 5, 6 and 7.
Thanks to colleague and friend Peter O’Hanrahan for this!
As a FIVE – and this may sound counter-intuitive – you need to establish greater contact with your body and emotions. Unconsciously restricting your breath constricts your vitality and keeps you in your head. This may seem safe and familiar, but it won’t reduce your stress. Instead, focus on slowly expanding your diaphragm and deepening your breath. At first, you may feel uncomfortable or even anxious. But take it one step, one breath at a time, learning to tolerate increased sensation. With continued practice, you will increase your capability. Breathing into your belly will develop your ability to be physically grounded. Breathing into the chest will open up space for both your personal feelings and your empathy, with more possibility of a heart connection with others. And all this will help you relax.
As a SIX, breathing can help you reduce tension and develop safety within yourself, instead of relying on other people to provide this for you. Take slow, deep breaths and stretch the actual muscle of your diaphragm, then release the exhale as much as possible. It’s important to notice when your alarm system is activated for the fight, flight, or freeze response. Breathing into your belly will help restore calm and reduce anxiety. Allow pleasurable sensations to build. Breathing into your chest will provide more energy to handle difficulties and challenges when necessary. When you find yourself thinking about problems or worries, and holding your breath, return to the practice of steady breathing. Remember to use Counter-Anxiety Breath whenever you feel your stress and tension accelerating.
As a SEVEN, breathing will help you reduce tension by balancing your tendency to be “upwardly displaced” – meaning your center of gravity is so high in your head when it should be in your belly area – with coming down into the body and feelings. At first, this may not be fun, but it will open up a whole new realm of experience. Use breathing to calm the activity of your mind and bring attention inside. Breathe into your belly, notice physical sensation in your lower body, and feel your feet on the ground. Imagine you are extending roots down into the earth. When you notice you have left your body for the pleasures or worries of the mind, practice dropping back down to your belly and feet. At first, you may find that you can only do this for a few moments, but over time you will be able to hold a fully embodied state longer.
The next blog will focus on breathing practices for the Heart Center types 2, 3 and 4.
Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of six best-selling Enneagram-business books, is a speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. She provides certification programs for professionals around the world who want to bring the Enneagram into organizations with high-impact business applications, and is past-president of the International Enneagram Association. Visit her website: TheEnneagramInBusiness.com. firstname.lastname@example.org