Life events, traumas, stressors all have the potential to leave a path of destruction often found in the form of anxiety symptoms. These may include; racing heart, racing thoughts, intrusive thoughts, obsessional thinking, rigidity of thoughts, and cognitive dissonance. It is important to not only work on the underlying concerns but regulating the mind and body in the moment as well. One tool I often use with clients to help with the physiological symptoms of anxiety is the Butterfly Hug.
The Butterfly Hug is a method of therapeutic intervention to help relax and calm a hyper-aroused self. The Butterfly Hug was developed by two practitioners, Lucina Artigas, M.A., M.T., and Ignacio Jarero, Ed.D., Ph.D., M.T. The Butterfly Hug was taught to survivors of hurricane Pauline in Mexico, in 1998 which demonstrated to be highly effective for helping those during this incredibly devastating time. Following the successful implementation and use, many therapist and theoretical orientations have taken to this successful form on anxiety reduction, primarily those who have suffered traumas.
The practice is actually quite simple and is readily available to everyone, because all you need is yourself! To begin:
* Engage in some type of intentional breath work, I like to have client’s focus on diaphragmatic breathing for this particular tool.
* Draw awareness to the self, as with any mindfulness practice, pay attention, notice any emotions that are coming up, any physiological indicators and judgments of self and continue to breathe.
* Cross your hands over your chest (like you are making a bird shadow puppet) where the wings are resting just below your collar bone. I like to hook my thumbs as a place to feel anchored.
* Begin slowly tapping, alternating left and right, left and right and continue tapping for 30 seconds to a few minutes if desired and it feels calming and grounding.
* Continue to hold awareness with the self, slowing the mind and the body with each breathe, being with any and all emotions that come up.
The Butterfly Hug is a tool designed to help ease anxiety and calm you in the moment, but certainly is not something to be used in lieu of therapy. I also highly recommend practicing this technique when you are not anxious to become proficient and have it more accessible when you are feeling distressed. If you are experience anxiety or panic attacks on frequently, please seek a therapist to further evaluate your needs.
Written by Sonja Kromroy, MA, LPCC
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