Anxiety affects the entire body, and failing to acknowledge and work through that anxiety only compounds the issue. Dr. Nima Rahmany’s past chiropractic work and personal experience with anxiety inspired him to become a teacher so he could equip more individuals with the right tools to manage their anxiety and therefore live better lives.
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The Overview Method
Dr. Nima’s work centers around relational anxiety. Bullied as a young person, Dr. Nima says he lived his entire life like he had something to prove. Motivated by this constant anxiety, he was determined to solve the issue. This led him to the world of personal development, which is how he got started in chiropractic.
Stress was the primary reason people came to see him, but he felt that he was only able to help them to a limited extent just as a chiropractor. Dr. Nima shifted his focus from chiropractic and began working with nervous system regulation and attunement to give people deeper, more intimate relationships with themselves and from there to improve their emotional intelligence and relationships with their businesses and their family.
He calls the process the “Overview Method,” which is inspired by the “Overview Effect” that astronauts experience when they see Earth from orbit. When these astronauts come back, they are never the same. They want to transform the world, because they now have a different perspective. Dr. Nima’s Overview Method does this by posing a series of questions that help people empower their lives, go from victim to victor, and become masters of their own domain.
The Nervous System and Anxiety
Understanding how the nervous system works is helpful in dealing with anxiety, because it gives us a deeper understanding of what we are experiencing and why we are feeling a certain way.
Both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are part of the autonomic nervous system, and they control the parts of the body that we don’t have to worry about--digestion, heart rate, and breathing is all under autonomic control.
But the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems both affect the body differently. Dr. Nima says that the sympathetic is like the gas pedal, and the parasympathetic is the brake. Sympathetic is fight, flight, or freeze; parasympathetic is rest and digest.
Our bodies require balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic for a state of health and ease. But when we are perceiving more threat in our environment--such as when we are stressed or experiencing anxiety--the sympathetic kicks in.
To counteract this and maintain the balance, we can use neurosensory attunement (bringing ourselves into the present through breath and awareness of physical sensations) to trigger our parasympathetic nervous system and calm ourselves down.
The Importance of Learning Self-Regulation
The ability to self-regulate is the ability to control how we react to emotions. Learning how to self-regulate is important, because reactivity prevents us from experiencing intimacy. When we’re stuck in ego, we take everything personally, so we live in a constant state of fear. Being right and looking good take priority, therefore it’s impossible to truly be authentic in this state.
In Dr. Nima’s experience, one of the biggest problems people are facing right now is the issue of taking things personally. This can usually be traced back to old wounds and past traumas that cause us to have triggers and make us reactive.
Learning how to recognize and navigate these triggers, or as Dr. Nima says, “how to be curious rather than furious,” begins with engaging in consistent personal work through the mindfulness practices such as self-regulation and attunement.
Attunement is being present and paying attention to the physical sensations. It’s as simple as noticing the breath, feeling the feet on the floor, and being fully in the moment. Self-regulation goes a step further, is a little trickier, and requires practice.
Hal Elrod, author of the Miracle Morning book, suggests asking people for feedback as an exercise in self-regulation. Ask questions such as, “What are my weaknesses?” Listen and observe the feeling of being triggered and learn to respond differently to these triggers.
Cold showers, along with having multiple health benefits, are another very powerful tool to practice both self-regulation and attunement. Turn the hot water off, focus on the breath, feel and observe the pain, and allow it to happen.
The Importance of the Breath
Regaining and maintaining balance requires daily work through habits, rituals, or whatever our mindfulness practice entails, and connecting with breath is a good foundation to lay for this practice. The way we breathe is how we live. It can help regulate our emotional state, and it can be a good indicator of what state we’re in at any given moment.
Breath is the link between our conscious and our unconscious mind--between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and it’s a simple way to check in. It’s also an excellent tool for self-regulation. If we begin to feel ourselves being triggered or an emotion bubbling to the surface that threatens to take control, we can use breath as a way to “hack” the nervous system by activating the parasympathetic and calming ourselves down.
Becoming less reactive and more mindful takes work, but it has a huge impact on our lives, our health, our relationships, and our ability to connect and experience intimacy. With learning this art of self-regulation comes emotional intelligence, deeper knowledge of self, and greater control over our lives.
Dr. Nima’s upcoming training event, The Overview Experience: Intimacy Upgrade, comes out of 20 years of neuroscience, study of the nervous system, and personal growth and transformation work. The training was designed to help people overcome relational anxiety and better understand their relationships with themselves and others. The event will take place on October 19-21, 2018 in Downtown Vancouver.
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