Welcome to season three of the Awareness That Heals podcast, dedicated to exploring and healing specific challenging emotions.
In this episode, host Robert Strock focuses on anxiety. He offers a series of guided meditations to cultivate self-compassion and improve your ability to navigate anxious moments effectively. Using the metaphor of an elevator, Robert illustrates the progression from an unconscious state of anxiety on the first floor to acquiring tools for self-support and healing on subsequent levels.
On the second floor, the focus is on becoming aware of your anxiety and developing the capacity to care for it. By taking on the role of an observer, you not only perceive anxiety but also gain insights and tools to care for self-care. Recognizing yourself as the observer introduces a sense of freedom from your experiences, empowering you to pause during anxious moments while reflecting on the observation and increasing the capacity to tolerate and accept yourself as you are. The observer is independent of the anxiety itself and is a central point of being able to care and increase your acceptance. Through listening and practicing this guided meditation, you will learn to embrace the observer role. Don’t forget to download the free Introspective Guides for additional support.
Note: Below, you’ll find timecodes for specific sections of the podcast. To get the most value out of the podcast, I encourage you to listen to the complete episode. However, there are times when you want to skip ahead or repeat a particular section. By clicking on the timecode, you’ll be able to jump to that specific section of the podcast. Please excuse any typos or grammatical errors. For an exact quote or comment, please contact us.
Awareness That Heals, Episode 114.
Robert Strock (00:04):
A very warm welcome to season three of Awareness That Heals where we have progressed to be able to focus on one challenging emotion at a time. This will allow you to choose a specific emotion that you’ve had challenges with, and each one will have a progressive series of guided meditations that will allow you to go deeper and deeper into self-compassion. For me, it’s truly inspiring because each emotion has unique nuances for both self-care and responding to your environment at the same time. This is subtle and a rare skill as all too often we don’t stay aware of how we can care for ourselves as we are. I hope that you’ll not only find it helpful but also give you deep resources that you can internalize when the emotion is most emerging.
The Awareness That Heals podcast helps its listeners learn to develop the capacity to have a more healing response to emotions and situations rather than becoming stuck. Your host, Robert Strock, has practiced psychotherapy for more than 45 years. He wrote the book “Awareness That Heals: Bringing Heart and Wisdom to Life’s Challenges,” to help develop self-caring and the capacity to respond in an effective way to life’s challenges, especially at times when we are most prone to be critical or to withdraw. Together, we will explore how to become aware of our challenging feelings and at the same time find alternative ways to live a more fulfilling and inspiring life.
Robert Strock (01:48):
We are going to do a series of guided meditations starting today that are going to give you ways to develop self-compassion. The first step is going to be the recognition of the observer, seeing the anxiety, and also an intention to heal the anxiety. At the same time, we’re going to be using an analogy of an elevator where the first floor is just being anxious and not in any way being aware that it’s happening. As you rise each floor, you are getting ways to develop self-compassion that is so rare that will help you befriend and utilize the anxiety for not only your benefit but also for those around you as well. Let yourself be ready for starting the guided meditation by being alone and in a place that is private and comfortable.
So just begin by noticing the sounds around you and spend a couple seconds just being aware of what you hear and then let yourself shift to your rhythm of breathing and seeing, is it comfortable? Is it anxious? Is it thin? Are you in your flow? And then sense, how do I feel? How do you feel? Are you feeling good? Are you feeling bad? Are you feeling tired? Are you feeling energized? It’s always good to check in and using your awareness and recognizing that you are the one. You are the observer. When you are the observer, you gain the capacity to be able to care and no matter how you feel, be much more able to respond to your environment to coexist.
Recognizing again and again as it’s so easy to forget that you are the one seeing it occurring in the present, and this frees you from being owned by the anxiety or for that matter by anything else. We are going to be using the analogy all the way through of the elevator. That it’s vital you understand the first floor of the anxiety is where there is only anxiety, where you are anxious and not aware of it in any useful way at all. You’re going to use the other levels of the elevator as you gain tools and capacities to support yourself. Visualize an elevator and you’re going to use this visualization of rising to floors above you for learning how to take care of your anxiety. The second floor is being aware of your anxiety and developing your capacity to care for it at the same time. Now, this is a huge deal. Just imagine yourself when you’re at your most anxious or when you’re just anxious, and how often are you able to even have a thought that I want to care for myself. So allow yourself to sense this first step. When I’m anxious, I want to care for myself.
By being the observer of your anxiety that allows you to start to kick into a gear and remember, I not only want to see anxiety, I want to care for myself. I’m not being anxious on purpose, of course, I want to care for myself. I don’t want to judge my anxiety. I want to be able to learn and develop how to care for it. This allows you to be freed from the slavery of just being trapped by your anxiety. Now, ask yourself, how much do you get this? How much is this clear to you that if you’re able to be aware of your anxiety and have a voice and a part of your mind or your wisdom or your heart that says, of course I want to care for myself now, I don’t want to put it in the basement. I want to learn how to treat it as a part of me. So you might say to yourself, I see you anxiety. You are a real feeling, and yet you aren’t nearly all of me. I can see both you and I am also the one that’s aware of you at these times and I’m genuinely wanting to care.
I as the observer can also eventually lead to responding in helpful ways. I’m keeping a steady eye on you and treating you as a secondary part of me that I’m developing caring for. Now, when I say a secondary part of me, that means that your awareness is central. Now, we aren’t taught that, but if you pay close attention to your life, you’ll see how important and fundamental it is to see that your awareness is the essence of you and that your feelings are always secondary when you also can isolate “I’m also awareness.” The primary part, the observer is the more useful “you.” It can be called a lot of things. It can be called the seer, the witness, the observer. That’s not so important. What’s really important is that you understand the meaning that your essential nature is the ability to observe, and it’s so perpetual we don’t even notice it, but when we start to really notice that we are the observer, it gives us a freedom from everything we’re experiencing. It ultimately can be the source of us being able to respond to life and not be owned or dominated by whatever it is that we’re feeling.
So just let that end for a couple of seconds. You are an observer and you want to remember that for the rest of your life because it frees you from being dominated by your feelings, somebody else’s feelings or life itself, and see how much you can recognize that this can be or perhaps already is a place where you can see it is far more central than your feelings of anxiety. This gives you the capacity to respond. Can you see your own anxiety and recognize this is a big beginning on the path toward not being dominated by this feeling? Don’t trivialize this key first step. It can be or maybe already is your foundation of gradual liberation from being controlled and dominated again, pause for a couple seconds. How much do you get this? This is not something that we’re taught. We’re not taught that we have this automatic capacity to be the observer. This gives us a freedom. This is what I would call part of the second floor where we have the observer and it realizes as it sees that, of course, I want to care for myself as well and just need to learn how to do that in the best way possible.
Look and see if you can find a gut feeling or your wisdom saying, yes, I do want to care for myself or have this intention to heal or to support myself. So pause and look at how much you organically can go there, especially when you visualize yourself being anxious.
Just think back to the last time anxiety really gripped you and imagine yourself going to a place of, ah, I can see this, and of course I want to care for myself. The observer can become the master guide to realize anxiety isn’t as important of a truth-teller as it indicates that it is anxiety. Like all emotions pretend to be God. They pretend to be the truth. No, they’re feelings that are of secondary importance. Doesn’t mean they’re not important, but they’re secondary. Anxiety almost always distorts reality and makes it look scarier than it is. Again, you’re observing and this often goes unnoticed and therefore this capacity can’t be used to develop freedom, healing responses and guidance. How much do you get these first couple of steps? It’s never going to be helpful to get ahead of yourself. Does it really make sense to pause when you’re anxious to you and really reflect, oh, I can see it and I want to care when anxiety is happening?
You can see and say to yourself right now, I’m feeling anxious. I can feel the anxiety and see it, and of course, I want to care for myself and my life. More and more, I am becoming a caring observer or witness, which is the source of greater freedom from the anxiety. If I can see it and recognize that the observer and the anxiety aren’t the same, I can have the increased potential to develop responses, dialogues, caring, new actions, and learn to let go of criticisms. Yes, the observer can lead to all of this, but it needs to be independent from the anxiety itself as a central point of identification inside you. This is a solid foundation to live life. Now, as we end this meditation, see how much you can appreciate that you are the observer or the awareness itself, which will give you the increasing capacities to care for yourself and maybe just with supportive wisdom, words or intelligence or common sense, whatever you want to call it. You can see clearly that the anxiety is only a feeling in the desert of a one lane highway. It’s just a feeling. It’s not you. More and more you can teach yourself learn, remind yourself I am this observer and this observer has tremendous capacity. And you, as this awareness or as this observer who wants to care for yourself, can guide yourself in ways that will serve you your whole life.
Now that the meditation is over, just ask yourself, where does this leave you? Does it leave you intrigued? Does it leave you hopeful? Does it leave you judging yourself? If it does not leave you in a place where you feel like, ah, what a tool, then that’s what we’re looking for, and if it isn’t leaving you there, I strongly suggest you do the meditation again and my deep prayer, my hope is that you can really take ownership of something that’s universal for all of us, that we are all observers, and when we notice that it gives you and all of us a freedom that otherwise will not be there. Thanks so much for your quality attention.
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