How 3 Spiritual Practices Helped Me Squash Chronic Anxiety
By: Denise Braun-Stargazer, MA, Shamanic Practitioner and Certified Hypnotherapist
I’ve made a habit of worrying. Well, it’s more than just getting worked up and stressed out…I’m talking true anxiety-ridden “I can’t really take a deep breath right now” freak outs. And I ‘worry’ all over the place. Sitting in the reception area at my derm appointment. In the carpool pick-up line at my daughter’s school. Even in odd, out of the blue moments while I’m watching reruns of Seinfeld. The episodes have varied in duration and intensity. But I’ve made a powerful connection recently about my spiritual practices and how they have helped curb my anxiousness. And I’d like to share the secret ingredients with you.
If you struggle with anxiety like I do, you know how debilitating it can be. Anxious feelings can creep up on anyone, even those who consider themselves to be spiritual. And I am a spiritualist. As an invited and fully initiated shamanic practitioner in the Q’ero lineage in Peru, I use ancient rituals and earth medicine to connect to Source energy. I go to earth to heal, find clarity, and cultivate peace. So, you’d think I’d be far from anxious. But since the pandemic, my anxiety has escalated. That is, until I started implementing some very basic spiritual practices to my day that have helped destress my life (and consequently, reduce my overall anxiety).
Since the start of Covid, spiritual practitioners (such as myself) and therapists have seen a substantial increase in generalized anxiety in our population. And what’s more, anxiety can pop up in the most unexpected times. Case in point, my weird moment of breathlessness watching reruns…and that time I was standing in line at Starbucks a few months ago. I felt my heart starting to race as I approached the ordering counter. I wanted to run like the wind out of the coffee shop, but I was able to stay and manage my feelings of worry and fear by utilizing a few tried and true spiritual practices. As you know, anxiety is not just about being nervous occasionally, but a persistent feeling of unease about everyday things or events.
While there isn’t a cure for anxiety, practicing these three spiritual activities regularly can go a long way towards reducing your worry and stress levels. These practices are rooted in the belief that intention can help us heal. Before I start any spiritual practice to reduce anxiety, I sit still or take a deep breath and set an intention inside my head. I believe this connects us back to source energy and our soul. So, without further ado, here are three different spiritual practices that can help reduce your anxiety and help you connect to your spiritual heart and energy field.
Spiritual Support for Worry
Practice 1: Mindfulness + Sand Painting
Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment and noticing any thoughts and feelings that come up. Staying in the here and now helps you connect to your body’s energy and present emotions. This allows us to let go of the past, and not worry about the future. In a metaphysical context, mindfulness is spiritual practice as it grounds you and honors your energy field. Being mindful can include focusing on your breathing and looking around to see the beauty around you. And in this case, I connect my mindfulness to an ancient ritual called “sand painting.”
When we sand paint, we go the earth and make a circle our of stones or sand. Make sure it’s big enough to sit inside the circle. Once inside, set your intention and notice what’s around you inside of the sand circle. If you find stones or twigs, leave or even a ladybug or two, notice each one. Pick them up. Take deep breaths as you say focused on these items inside your circle. As you place each ‘found item’ back onto earth, say thank you out loud and close your eyes. Absorb this present moment. Be mindful of how it feels here, in this safe and grounded space.
Add some breathe work here as well. Deep, elongated in and our breaths. Continue to add more breathe and include a small conversation with your spiritual belief system/support. I use a mantra such as “All is Well” or “I am Safe” to help my anxiety dissipate. Getting in the habit of practicing mindfulness + mantra is a great way to reduce anxiety and stress in your life. And although the sand painting has to be created on earth, staying present can be done anywhere and it doesn’t take any time out of your day.
Practice 2: Slow Down + Crystals
“Rest is a Spiritual Practice.” When you’re in a rush, you’re more likely to get stressed, make a mistake, or even start to dissociate from the present. You might also miss out on important moments in your life, or not have time to do the things that really matter to you. So why not find a less hectic pace and stuff a few crystals into your bra or pockets to create a stronger connection to earth medicine’s healing energy? Slowing down + crystals are the healers’ elixir for staying less anxious. Crystals also help us stay grounded.
Indigenous peoples have used healing stones from the earth for tens of thousands of years to support peace, the transmission of energy and intention. In the Q’ero world, we call healing crystals ‘Kuyas’ and they’re part of a medicine bag we utilize to help our clients set an intention towards physical energy alignment. I often hold crystals in my hands while I meditate to bring grounding or put a few in my purse that I can grab as ‘worry stones’ when things get chaotic. Besides this, crystals are gorgeous! Give is a try!
Practice 3: Go to Nature + Hug A Tree
Spending time in nature has many benefits, including reducing anxiety and stress. Being around the giant tress of the Pacific Northwest, where I live, puts my life and worries into perspective. I call the trees the Ancient Wisdom Keepers of the planet. They help me slow down, breathe, and feel like I’m part of something bigger than myself. I am a regular tree hugger (you probably could’ve guessed). The rough texture of their bark plus their musty, woody smell never ceases to help me feel calm and happy. I will go to the forest when I’m struggling with anxiety as it immediately helps me feel safe, thus reducing my worry habit.
I am mindful to set foot on Pachamama (Mother Earth) every day. She grounds us and allows our energy field to become balanced, refreshed. This simple spiritual practice of “grounding” can be helpful in letting go of anxiety as well. So when you can visit a park, garden or lake, make sure you take time to place your feet on the Earth, or hug a wisdom keeper!
Lastly, bring nature into your home, by growing plants, bringing in a few extra pieces of natural décor and cleaning your home with essential oils. I often set up Earth Altars in my home by placing found objects on the Earth into a beautiful circle on the top of a credenza or dresser. I always incorporate all four elements in these handmade ‘circle’ altars (so think earth like crystals, air from feathers or the smoke from sage, fire, and water as represented from a fountain or even holy water). This is a nurturing practice that honors your space and your heart at the same time.
Anxious feelings can creep up on anyone, even those who consider themselves to be spiritual. By incorporating these shamanic/spiritual practices into your day to day, you’ll find that you can release tension and worry from your body and mind. Still need more tips on reducing anxiety? Follow my blog at www.denisestargazer.com and join the conversation.
Denise Braun-Stargazer is an award-winning therapist, author, shamanic healer and mystic. She has cultivated the art of healing and spiritual authenticity with more than 25 years of experience working with groups, agencies, and one-on-one clients all over the world. Her passion is to guide healing, intuitive and spiritual breakthroughs and support high-frequency lifestyles. Denise has also been a professional Tarot reader for over twenty years and enjoys helping others learn the magic of the Tarot.
Denise holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology, and has lectured across the US for both collegiate and private speaking events. She has curated real-life healing breakthroughs with individuals around the globe. Denise is a fully invited and initiated Shaman of the Q’ero lineage of the High Andes, Peru. Denise lives in Portland Oregon with her family and her many pets. In her free time Denise loves forest hikes, sushi and creating and collecting art.