I have been blessed to live and work in NYC my entire life. I like to consider myself a proud and loving New Yorker who loves my entire City; that being said, there are some areas in my great City that I avoid as much as possible. Dealing with anxiety issues off and on my entire life, congested and loud areas such as Times Square have always been a no-no for me. I mean let’s be honest—what true-blue New Yorker is ever going to willingly promenade around Times Square if they don’t have to?
When my cousins would come visit me in NYC from the Ukraine, they’d obviously wish to see the sights of the City that I have seen many, many, many times. The Orwellian-dystopian neon shimmer of Times Square always seems to be my family’s favorite destination whenever they arrive at JFK airport. Much to my vexation, I have no choice but to be the hospitable host and show them around wherever it is that they wish to go—as mentioned—oftentimes Times Square.
For anybody that has anxiety, especially PTSD or complex PTSD, you know how uncomfortably overwhelming all of those lights and billboards and crowds are! Before I started practicing Zen and breathing techniques, I’d often have some form of anxiety attack transpire whenever I was forced to go through such crowded Bedlams as Times Square. As my Martial Discipline and Meditation practices picked up, I found it easier to be situated within such deafening energetic raucousness.
When you’re stuck in an unfavorable environment, especially one which is so cramped and loud, sitting down and practicing the Box Breath exercise or some relaxing visualization practice can be very difficult; that’s why I always like to have some alternative methods available to me to calm myself before any panic has a chance to materialize itself!
So, what can you do the next time that you have to take your distant family from Nebraska out to the middle of Manhattan to eat a $7 slice of generic franchise pizza? You can hum! Now, I know that “humming” might sound like something kids do when they lose concentration—which is exactly what they do—which is actually VERY helpful to anyone needing to—well—switch their focus!
Humming can be a meditative art form, one which is used by Yogis and Zen Masters to not only switch their concentration away from something they deem unfavorable—but to pinpoint a frequency which they consider to be enjoyable. THINK about it; what happens when you hum? Well, firstly you send signals from your brain to your vocal chords and mouth to engage in a physiological activity: one where you CREATE a vibration that you can control via playing around with the decibel level and cadence. When you hum—you’re usually not concentrating on the humdrum (see what I did there); when you hum—you’re creating a force and utilizing it to shift your perception from “A” to “B” without fully needing to be zoned-out. Humming is energy and everything is energy! Anxiety is simply energy which isn’t to the “battery’s” liking; you’re the battery!
So, next time that you feel as though the walls are closing in on you—switch the current that flows through your battery’s charge: start humming your favorite song and watch what happens. Now instead of the forces of anxiety, aggravation and anger seeping into you—you switch the tides and alchemize that energy into something more to your liking; even if it’s just a smidge of a difference—it really adds up if you practice this technique diligently. Once you begin shifting your focus from that which is unfavorable to that which is pleasurable—a whole new spectrum of happiness becomes available to you. Enjoy the music, my friends!
Banner Image: Zen in NYC. Image Credit – PIRO