One of the best new additions to my library in a long while is in the Face of Fear: Buddhist Wisdom for Challenging Challenging Times. This volume edited by Barry Boyce and the Editors of the Shambala Sun compiles the Dalai Lama, Pema Chodron, Thich Nhat Hanh, Jack Kornfiled, Chogyam Trunpa, Sylvia Boorstein and many others. Many of my students practice yoga to help them to relax and relieve their anxiety about the problems they are working through.
I have been particularly enjoying the article by Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist Teacher who teaches at Plum Village in France. He combines such sweetness and warmth in his writings.
The following simple practices from Thich Nhat Hahn can be very helpful when you are stuck with fearful thoughts. Thich Nhat Hahn loves to marry poems and breathing practice, often combined with walking.
Try this one, any place, anytime you need it.
I breathe in, I breathe out.
I become calm, I let go.
I smile, I am free.
When you practise breathing in this way, you stop your thoughts and disconnect from your fear-producing story. You also bring your attention to the present moment.
Another practice recommended for calming emotional storms is the following:
Breathing in, I calm my feelings
Breathing out, I smile at my feelings.
Thich Nhat Hahn suggests focusing on the belly and the breath to weather an emotional storm.