Fear takes us out of our body when it no longer feels safe to be there, and yet when we activate a sharp, intentional eye focus, we encourage ourselves to stay calm and take action from a place of focus rather than a place of disorder.
Early last summer, I was alone at home for a couple of days. I had some work projects due and needed some solitude to focus. I love time alone when I can devote my full attention to writing and creating. That night when I went to bed, I felt a sense of ease and comfort as I fell asleep. Then I woke up in the middle of the night, and the room was spinning. I tried to refocus my eyes but couldn’t. I thought if I put my feet on the ground, I might recover my balance, but this didn’t work either. As I went to stand, I dropped to my knees to crawl into the bathroom. As I crawled there, so many thoughts and sensations flushed through me. I was terrified and alone.
I realized that I was having a panic attack, and the fear was causing my body to shut down. I stopped crawling and closed my eyes. I took a deep breath and felt my body become still.
I intentionally focused my eyes on the wall in front of me and held my gaze. As I did so, I felt the fear and spinning subside. I was able to come back to my body and out of fear.
I learned an important lesson that night: when we are feeling overwhelmed by fear, a strong eye focus can help us stay present and connected to our body. This allows us to move forward with clarity and intention. By harnessing the power of focus, I could remain calm and recognize that I was safe at that moment.
Have you ever had an experience that throws so much fear at you that you feel paralyzed?
If so, here are some prompts to help you regain balance.
Practice: A Deep Meditative Eye Focus to Regain Balance
- Stop whatever you are doing and take three long deep breaths. Feel the air as it enters and exits your body.
- Assess your experience on a sensitivity scale. On a scale of 1-10, 1 being none and 10 being off the charts, how high is your fear response?
- Find a place to focus your eyes. (It can be a point on a branch, a knob on your dashboard, a light switch, the corner of a door or window, or a spot on the wall)
- Then decide on a number on the sensitivity scale and remember it.
- Hold your eye gaze on one object and take long deep breaths, focusing on extending the exhale. Continue for 1-3 minutes, returning your attention to the breath.
- Notice changes in your fear response. Where on that scale of 1-10 are you now? Notice any feelings of relaxation in your body. When you have completed your meditative eye focus, reassess your sensitivity scale. If it’s higher than 5, repeat the exercise until you lower the number on your sensitivity scale.
The next time you are feeling fearful or overwhelmed, remind yourself to take a few moments to intentionally focus your eyes on something in front of me and take a few deep breaths. This practice will help you stay grounded and connected to your body, take action, and regain safety and comfort.