Getting free from anxiety, an interview with Anouk Prop, part two
By Emily Alp
In part two (see part one here) of this empowering chat, we discuss how yoga’s relationship toÂ anxiety; managing exposure to technology, and anxiety reduction in your everyday life.
E: So what kinds of things trigger anxiety?
A: It can be anything for anyone, depending also on your own sensitivity. And thatâs another thing about yoga, the more you practice, the more sensitive you become, so the more triggers you will have around you that can alter your mood.
E: Would you then say this gives practitioners more opportunities to look at these things?
A: Yeah âŚ if you have the courage to do that. Because it demands a lot of courage to really stay present when you are very anxious. So if you look back to what I said earlier, this flight or fight response, thatâs the first thing you want to do: Either fly or fight. But to make a decision to stay and breath through it, and knowing that this too will pass, demands a lot of courage. At that moment it feels like a matter of life and death for the system. Although your mind knows that itâs different, on the level of the nervous system itâs like [life and death].
E: Have you noticed anxiety it in your yoga practice? Have you had an experience that youâd like to share?
A: When I started to do dropbacks, I was afraid to go down and back into the unknown, and I was afraid to surrender âŚ I was afraid I wasnât strong enough or I that I would fall on my head.
E: How did you get yourself through it?
A: I remember I was with my teacher and he said: âYou can do it.â And I said: âNo I canât,â and he said: âYou canâI am here.â And he just stood there, and I did it. And there was an emotional release; I started to cry. But that helped me to bring space in my chest and let go, and to see that thereâs nothing to be afraid ofâI can do it.
E: Do you think technology is raising our levels of anxiety?
A: I think the media is really focused on making people scared âŚ all these bad things that are happening in the world. It really goes into the drama and the bad stuff instead of creating some trust and some feeling of peace in the world. And technology, in terms of mobile phones and [devices], means you constantly have to be alert. And the nervous system constantly gets the signal: âOkay I have to be alert, something can happen.â Thereâs never really a time to relax, when thereâs this constant flow of information.
E: Do you try to watch what you consume? What precautions do you take to protect your nervous system?
A: I donât watch television. I donât read the newspaper. The only news I get is word of mouth. People tell me when something is going on in the world. So if I hear something bad has happened I have the choice to look it up on the Internet.
I take some time also to be in nature. Thatâs why I like to be here in Thailand. Itâs not that Iâm putting my head in the sand, and I donât want to know whatâs going on in the world. For me itâs a healthy way to protect myself and to focus on the things that are nourishing me âŚ to take responsibility for my life and my part in this lifeâto see what I can do to make this world a better place to live in.
E: What little nugget would you give people in terms of helping them with their anxiety?
A: I often give the advice that just for a couple minutes a dayâit can be at the beginning of the day or the end of the day or bothâjust sit with yourself or lay down on the bed and bring your attention inward. Become aware of what you feel, your emotional state of being. [Experiment with] one or two things you could do for yourself to feel better that are realistic. So every time you are in a state âŚ like you are very anxious or very sad or whatever, you know that there are things you can do, very practical things, to get yourself out of the situation.
You donât have to go into the story. A lot of people like to go into the story and to the emotions. Itâs good to observe that itâs there, but you donât have to go into it. You can focus your attention on something else.