There’s a number of mindfulness-based strategies that can help settle us when fear is really strong. And the practices can be combined or sequenced in any way that you find effective.
It’s ideal to develop a familiarity and skill with these strategies when you’re not feeling strong fear so that they’re available to you when they’re most needed. So let’s start with a short mindfulness practice that helps bring us here into our body, in this moment.
A Guided Grounding Practice
10-Minute Practice to Ground, Breathe, Soothe
1. Finding a comfortable posture with both feet on the floor, allow the eyes to gently close. Or, lower your gaze.
2. Now bring attention to the areas of contact that your feet have with the floor. Feel into your feet, noticing the solidity of the ground under them. Maybe feeling where your shoes are in contact with your feet.
3. And now moving on to the thighs and where the body meets the chair. Notice where there is contact with the chair, just allowing the ground and the chair to hold and support your body without you needing to do anything.
4. Then, move your attention to your back. Where does your back touch the chair? Can you feel the difference between where there is contact and where there is none?
5. And now moving your attention to your hands, feeling into your hands. Maybe noticing what they’re touching. Perhaps the chair, your thighs, the other hand. You can ask yourself, How do I know that I have hands without looking at them? You just know, right? We can feel the hands from within.
6. Now open your awareness. Feel your entire body sitting here in this moment on this chair.
Where do I feel my breath the most? Where are the sensations of the breath most pleasant? At the nose where the air comes in at the back of the throat? In the chest? Or, maybe the belly?
7. For a few moments, bring your attention to the breath. If you’d like, you can make the next couple of breaths a little bit deeper, so you can really feel the breath. And ask yourself, Where do I feel my breath the most? Where are the sensations of the breath most pleasant? At the nose where the air comes in at the back of the throat? In the chest? Or, maybe the belly? And using that place—the place where you feel it the most—as an anchor for your attention.
This is where you can come back over and over. Whenever the mind wanders off, when you’re experiencing a strong sense of fear, come back to your breath or repeat the words ground, breathe, settle, soothe.
7. Now let the breath just breathe itself. No need to make it any other way than what it wants to be. When you notice your attention is somewhere else, gently bring it back to the breath.
8. Whenever you’re ready, let your eyes open or lift your gaze. Notice how you’re feeling right now—there’s no particular way you should feel.
This is a grounding practice that you can come back to throughout your day. When you find yourself caught up in feelings of anxiety or fear, you can use simple words to remind yourself to come back to the breath. Ground, breathe, settle, soothe