Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Turn to a Professional or Do It Yourself?

One medical doctor (he asked me not to use his real name), after reading my book, contacted me saying that instead of shutting down emotions that bother you, it’s wiser to turn to a trained professional—a psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker—for help. I couldn’t agree or disagree with him, because it all depends on an individual and his or her specific situation. For example, suppose you wish to decrease or completely get rid of the anxiety that you feel before a job interview. What’s wrong with trying to learn how to control it using your natural resources? After all, this is what you instinctively do many times a day, and all you need is to observe how your body and mind pull it off. Do you really want to see a mental-health professional with every little thing?

Nobody seems to argue against children (and especially adults) to be potty trained, even though holding it in is not exactly natural. Being potty trained—as banal as this example may sound—really helps us to live in a civilized society. I see control of emotions as a next step in societal development.

The method explained in Secret Techniques for Controlling Sadness, Anger, Fear, Anxiety, and Other Emotions is ancient. It took me more than two decades to learn it well enough to clearly explain it to others. The method works remarkably well in real life, and I hope that somebody will find it valuable. At the very least, it’s an unusual (to a modern reader in the West) approach that provides the reader with an alternative solution to an emotional problem.  

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Ever since my book, Secret Techniques for Controlling Sadness, Anger, Fear, Anxiety, and Other Emotions, came out, I’ve received many questions from the readers. Many of those questions had to do with the order in which the readers tried the techniques explained in the book. While you should be able to do any of the included there techniques, you’ll have better results if you try the techniques in the order that they appear in the book, because the techniques that appear in the first chapters are easier to do than the ones that appear later in the text. If you still have questions, feel free to post them here.

At this point, the book is sold for less than four dollars all over the world. Here are a few sites:











Saturday, April 14, 2012

Controlling Your Stage Fright

There are many ways to control your emotions. In case of stage fright, your options are a little limited, because when you are on stage, chances are you need to either speak or sing, making all manipulations with breathing off limits. Luckily, that’s not a big problem. Let’s tackle stage fright from a different angle.

Observing Your Stage Fright

The exact manifestation of stage fright varies from person to person, but the differences are not that great. What our minds interpret as stage fright is usually a combination of two feelings: They are anxiety and fear. If you’re prone to having stage fright, then you’d be experiencing anxiety prior to your appearance on stage—you’d become anxious just thinking about performing in front of the audience. When you actually set your foot on stage, however, you’d experience fear on top of your anxiety. How do I know that? I know it from observing myself and other people.

Anxiety can produce a number of symptoms, but the most crippling for a stage performer is trembling of hands, feet, and—most importantly—voice. Fear, too, can produce quite a few symptoms, but the one that makes stage fright so troublesome is the mild paralysis. You might expect the sensation of paralysis to eliminate anxiety, by slowing down its shaking, but that does not happen. Instead, the fear locks the anxiety, making it even more pronounced and debilitating.

Please note that you don’t need to memorize all this. The reason why I’m telling you these things is to make the task of identification of your particular stage fright easier for you.

Identifying Your Stage Fright

 Anxiety always feels in the solar plexus, and fear always feels in the back, in the two fist-sized areas, one located below the right and the other below the left shoulder blade, about midway between the lower edge of the shoulder blades and the waistline. Again, I’m telling you all this purely for reference purposes, so you’ll have a clearer picture of where to look what I’m about to explain.

Lean back in your chair or lie down on your back, relax, and think of any stage fright–inducing situation, real or imaginary. Observe very carefully what happens sensation-wise in the middle of your torso—the area in which your anxiety and your fear are.

Pay particularly close attention to the very beginning of your stage fright’s formation. While the entire process is very complex, the way your mind triggers stage fright in your body is simple: It makes you clench specific muscles in the middle of your torso, making you experience a shift in sensations there to the ones that your mind then interprets as stage fright. You need to catch the moment before the stage fright appears, because this is when your mind triggers your stage fright in your body. As you replay the stage fright–provoking situation several times in a row, try to intervene in this mechanism of emotional shift. First, try to exaggerate the muscular pressure on the areas of anxiety and fear. If you did it right, your stage fright should become worse in that particular situation. It means that you’ve correctly identified the areas and you can influence your emotions via manipulating your muscle tension. Now, replay the same situation in your mind again, but this time instead of exaggerating the muscular tension in the areas of anxiety and fear, don’t let the muscles tighten up at all. For a regular person, such intentional relaxation of unusual muscles is possible but difficult. Let’s see what can be done to make this task of muscular relaxation easier.

Exercises to Control Stage Fright

With practice, you can develop the skill of relaxing the muscles that produce your stage fright completely. The reason why you can’t do it naturally is because you never practiced. When you were a child, you had to learn to walk and even to use your hands. You can teach yourself to take over the control over your stage fright the same way. The way to do it is to intentionally tense up the muscles in your middle torso—the same way your mind does it—so you’d trigger your stage fright. Then relax the involved muscles, until the entire stage fright dissipates. If your muscles—no matter how large the area is—don’t barge, and you still feel part of your stage fright, then stretch those muscles by bending your middle torso in the direction opposite to that of their constriction. For example, to release the tension that gives you anxiety, you need to stretch backward, arching your solar plexus forward. If you feel your stage fright hasn’t completely disappeared, gently but firmly stretch the muscles using your hands or fingers—as a form of massage—by sliding them downward along the muscles that still hold tension, switching to circular motions when they run over bones or internal organs.

Do not try too hard. As you repeat the exercises over and over again, your muscles will become able to contract and relax to greater degrees. Another crucial aspect to this method is that the control over the muscles that produce your stage fright comes from slow and smooth repetitions of conscious tension and relaxation. As you tense up and then relax the involved muscles, try to do so as slowly as you possibly can, while not letting the movements become jerky. Repeat this exercise about 200 times a day, avoiding tiring your muscles much, but gradually increasing the degree of tension, so the tension exceed that of an intense stage fright. When you feel your muscles become tired, take a break and then resume the exercise. After about three months of such training, you should develop control over the muscles involved in production of your stage fright to the point of being able to effortlessly disrupt its formation.

If after a few months of such training, you still feel some remainder of your (hopefully former) stage fright, observe carefully which muscles still squeeze the areas in your torso in which you experience the sensations that your mind interprets as stage fright, and adjust your exercise so to include those muscles. This method usually allows you to take full control over your stage fright, but of course various issues may arise. If, for some reason, you experience difficulty using this method, please do post your questions on this blog, and I’ll try to answer them.   

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Disrupting Anxiety

Meet Lisa. She’s about to have a job interview, and she’s worried. She finds it puzzling, because she’s done the kind of work she’s about to be interviewed for in the past, and she knows how to do it well, but she’s experiencing anxiety, nonetheless. Can her anxiety be stopped? Let’s first see what anxiety feels like.
Natural Occurrence of Anxiety
Imagine yourself about to have an important job interview. Do you feel worried? If you don’t, feel free to think of any situation from your past in which you experienced anxiety. As you’re imagining yourself in an anxiety-provoking situation, ask yourself: How do I know that what I am experiencing is anxiety? I want you to turn your attention to the sensations that appear in your upper abdomen. If you’re unclear what I mean, then relax, lean back in your chair, and think about something pleasant. Then—while staying as motionless as you can—recall the same anxiety-inducing situation that you thought about a minute or so ago. Do you feel how the muscles in your solar plexus tense up and squeeze your middle torso, causing a sensation of weakness appear in your upper abdomen? It seems that the area of your solar plexus doesn’t support your upper body as well as it used to. Moments after, you should begin experiencing mild shaking, which can quickly spread to your hands and throat, making your voice weaker and trembling. These are the primary sensations that your mind interprets as experiencing anxiety. Your instinctive impulse to control your worry is to lean forward, thus pressing on your upper abdomen with your upper body. It seems to work for a short while, until the trembling starts to seep through the pressure and spreading again.

Interfering in Anxiety’s Formation  

You can interfere in anxiety’s formation on any stage, but interfering in it on the earliest stage possible requires only a minimal effort. Again, relax. Lean back in your chair and think about something pleasant. Then—while staying as motionless as you can—recall the same anxiety-provoking situation that you thought about in the previous exercise. At the very beginning of the appearance of your emotional reaction, you’ll feel the urge to tighten up the muscles of your upper abdomen—do not let your body and mind do it. Continue staying absolutely still during that impulse, and do not let the tension in the muscles in your upper abdomen change even a tiny bit. The urge to tense up your muscles lasts only for about a second, but it will come back later again, in a few minutes, and you need to be ready for it. On the bright side, once you become aware of how the approaching anxiety feels, you’ll recognize it immediately. But for now, run as many anxiety-inducing situations in your mind as you can, and do not let those situations trigger your emotional response. After a couple of months of such training, you’ll come to the point when you get to choose whether you wish to experience anxiety or disrupt its formation.  

Monday, February 6, 2012

We all have feelings, and how we deal with them defines our personalities. While emotions add color and depth to our life, feelings that appear at the wrong time or place can create problems,
and emotional reactions that do not match our wishes and desires have the power to make our lives miserable. If we were able to modify our feelings, we could improve our lives in countless ways. That’s what this blog is all about. Its purpose is to teach you how to observe your mind and body while you are experiencing emotions, to learn how your mind naturally regulates your feelings, and to use the information you gain through observation to modify your emotions consciously.