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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Be in the Eye of the Storm

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Aug 30th 2011

 

stormJonathan was a 54 year old client of mine who suffered from long bouts of anxiety and at times panic attacks. The more anxiety he’d feel, the more he’d worry about it and then the more anxiety he’d feel. The cycle was vicious and there seemed to be no way out. I asked him the question, “Can you tell me what the eye of the storm is like? What’s the worst part of it? Have you ever tried “being” in the eye of the storm?” As Jonathan reflected he could tell me about his breath feeling shallow and his body tightening, but he couldn’t figure out the last question. Why would ever want to be in the eye of the storm? Here’s the answer.

When we’re feeling anxious and the mind gets anxious to get away from the discomfort. So what do we have, it’s a simple equation of 1 + 1.

One anxious + one anxious = Two Anxious.

And that’s what we end up with.

Practicing being in the eye of the storm changes that equation. Now we have one anxious + one calm or neutral feeling = neutral. So in essence in practicing being in the eye of the storm we neutralize the feeling.

Now, if you were encapsulated in the eye of a tornado and told that you’d absolutely be safe as the tornado comes and goes, the fear might subside and be replaced with curiosity. It might be pretty cool to see the eye of the storm if you knew you’d be okay.

This is the same mentality we want to have in the eye of the mind storms. To bring a curiosity to the chaos that’s there and begin to see it for what it is, a storm that naturally arises and passes away like all storms. It’s a natural law.

Whether you storms lean more toward anxiety, anger,  or a barrage of automatic negative thoughts, see if you can ask yourself, “Can I practice being in the eye of the storm, without judgment, but more with a sense of curiosity?”

If the first answer is no, ask again. It’s good to get past our initial reactive responses. Of course, if the storm is too intense, you might rather distract yourself for some time and then come back to being in the eye of it.

Give it a try and see what you find.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction is a living wisdom for us all to benefit from. 

 

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

    Reader Comments
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    The Eye Of A Storm - Cathy - Aug 31st 2011

    So, I've actually been in the eye of a hurricane twice.  I do not recommend doing it but am thrilled that I did it.  We had no idea what to expect the first time and it was much worse then we anticipated.  The horror goes on for longer than you would expect and the eye, when it is quiet and calm is even worse.  Sure, you survived the first half but unaware of what is ahead and no one can ever say that the storm outcome will be OK.  At least once you hit the eye it is half over and every minute after that, you are closer to the end.  It really did not help to go through it a second time because, storms like situations in life can always be different and have a different ending.  So, does this relate?

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