Cannon Ball Exercise
The purpose of this exercise is to isolate the nerves in your tailbone and colon area - and then to connect with and sink into the emotions of fear and anxiety that you may be feeling in this area.
I sometimes recommend this exercise for clients who are processing through waves of fear, anxiety, panic, and survival - it's helpful when your heart and mind are racing, racing, racing with manic thoughts and fear. It helps you fully surface the emotions of anxiety and panic, to be present with them, to sink into them, to discharge them and then to fully integrate them. When you do this the tension in your lower spine releases and then your entire spinal cord releases and then your brain stem releases and then your mid brain (limbic system) releases and then you eventually come out the other side and stabilize.
After the exercise it should be much easier to be and remain grounded and to acknowledge the fearful aspects of a situation (or the parts of your psyche that recognize the potential danger) but at the same time not be consumed by compulsive fear. Also, you will probably feel shifts in your spine and overall physical body when you're done with this exercise (less tension in your back and neck, more freed up heart, more openness throughout your body.)
I sometimes recommend this exercise to clients when they are in stage five of the healing process (merging with the shadow). The idea is that they have previously walled themselves off from fear and panic and this walling off has contributed to blockage in their nervous system - which has contributed to chronic physical and/or emotional health problems. Then by taking certain homeopathic remedies (as well as herbs and flower essences) they have released this blockage and the shadow emotions of fear and panic have now come to the surface to be processed through and cleared.
Remedies that can sometimes trigger a release of fear and panic from the mind-body system include (but are not limited to) Arsenicum Album (extreme fear of poverty, and/or illness), Silicea (fear of making the wrong decision, fear that they won't be able to handle the complexity of a situation), Argentum Nitricum (fear of being trapped, performance pressure, fear of being attacked for not performing), and Aconitum Napellus (fear of being demasked, fear of losing control).
How to do the exercise
Lay on your side and pull your knees towards your chest so you're lying in a fetal position. You don't have to pull your knees all the way to your chest (as if you were doing a cannonball jump into a swimming pool), but you do need to pull them up far enough so that you can isolate your lower back and tailbone area.
Then imagine that someone has just pushed you off a tall cliff and you are now in a free-fall. In this free-fall you can't analyze your way out of it. You can't fix anything to escape it. You can't do a spread sheet or control the situation in any way. So, the idea is that you are in it and the best thing to do at this point is to surrender into it.
Then imagine that you are falling, falling, falling into a miracle - some type or resolution of the thing that you are anxious or fearful about. You don't have to know what the resolution looks like or what it is - but you do need to sink into the perception that you are falling and have already fallen into the resolution.
The goal is not to relax really. The goal is to fully sink into the anxiety and panic that you are experiencing and know that at the very same time you have fallen into a resolution of your problem or situation.
It's a little bit like being in the middle of a tornado and fully sinking into the middle of the tornado and perceiving that that's exactly where you need to be. Thank God you're in the middle of this tornado - or Thank God that you are in the middle of this free-fall - because this tornado or this free-fall is taking you and has taken you into the miracle/resolution.
Then imagine that the cells in your lower spine and tail bone area are breathing out a big sigh... what a relief I am in the hands of a Higher Power and I have fallen into the miracle. What a relief!
When you're doing this internal dialogue and imagining the cells in this part of your body taking an out breath of relief, you will probably still be feeling a great deal of anxiety, fear or panic. This doesn't mean you're failing at the exercise. It just means that you're giving this part of your mind-body system (the part of your psyche that feels anxious or panicked) a voice. You're giving this part the permission to fully express itself. You're not afraid of it (in other words some part of you is not afraid of your own experience of anxiety and panic), but rather you're sinking into it.
Frequently asked questions and comments...
Clients often ask me - why would I want to be OK with my own anxiety and panic? I'm trying to get rid of those emotions. My response is that these emotions are part of you - a part of your psyche that needs your attention and acceptance. This part is similar to a one year old child that is terrified or panicked. Your job is not to get rid of this child or talk this child out of his/her emotions, but rather to be present with this child and tell this child that you still love and accept him/her even when he/she is feeling these feelings.
I know this is a big shift for a lot of people to make - yet, it's an important and powerful shift for healing and integrating anxiety and panic.
Another comment that clients have made when I have recommended this exercise is that the statement "what a relief, I'm in the hands of a Higher Power and the miracle has already occurred" feels phony to them. It feels like they're telling themselves something that's not true. I have two responses to this comment.
First, it's not that by doing this exercise we are putting our faith in some far off God that sits on a cloud and saves us from our distresses. Instead, we are - from a quantum perspective - we are energetically interlinked with all aspects of our situation. So, if we connect with the part of ourselves that vibrates with the resolution (even though we don't know what that is or looks like), then we open up a pathway energetically for a Higher Power to re-organize the situation and create a resolution.
This Higher Power could be God, or our Higher Selves (a part of our mind-body system that has a dotted line to God or divine intelligence). From my perspective the language is less important. What is important is the act of surrendering the work-out plan (the analysis or strategy) and fully surrendering into the feeling that we're in the hands of something greater than ourselves that has infinite power and intelligence and has already created the resolution.
And,from my experience when people do this exercise and experience the release of tension in their mind-body system, their overall energy field shifts and they move (sometimes incrementally, sometimes entirely) towards the resolution. After doing the exercise they are not only less gripped by fear and panic but they also shift what they attract so people, information, situations come their way that are part of the resolution. This is consistent with the Law of Attraction which many people are now familiar with.
Second, typically when people make the statement "what a relief, I'm in the hands of a Higher Power and a miracle has occurred," they will have counter voices surface within their psyche that are cynical and fear-based. These voices will usually say things like "Stop this nonsense. This is a ridiculous exercise. It won't work. You can't trust in a Higher Power. Look at what happened to you the last many times you put your trust in a Higher Power. You have to figure this out. You have to come up with a plan to get rid of this anxiety or to fix this situation. This is just new age mumbo-jumbo. I have a plan. Listen to me I have the plan for how to get out of this situation."
This is somewhat typical so I usually tell clients to expect to hear these voices and to embrace these voices as best you can. In other words, you don't want to silence any of your voices - this only creates splits within your psyche. You want to give all of the parts of your psyche a place at the table. Acknowledge what all of the parts have to say and what all of the parts are feeling. At the same time you don't have to let any one part "drive the car".
So, your response to this part of your psyche when it surfaces might sound something like this "thank you. I hear that you are cynical that this exercise will work. You're right to be cynical. I have put my trust in things that haven't worked out for me in the past. You want to be logical, rational about how to solve this problem. I agree. Being logical and rational is important. Let's work together on this issue. Let's try this quantum/surrender technique and see where it takes us. Let's experiment with this exercise of surrender and you can help me analyze how to make it work and what the results are."
The voice will probably come back with more fear and disbelief. This is to be expected. For most people it's probably been in charge for a very long time and done a fairly good job of keeping them safe - and now it is being challenged by another strategy that doesn't seem safe and seems like a waste of time.
For myself, when I have done this exercise in the past I have vacillated back and forth between the experience of surrender (sinking into the feeling that a miracle or resolution has already occurred) and then flipping back up to manic thought about how to solve the problem. When I have been in the mind-set of relief and surrender my lower back and tailbone have felt more relaxed and then when I have flipped back into manic fear and worry my lower back and tail-bone have tightened up.
I have gone back and forth, back and forth, many times. My strategy has been to stick with the exercise and be present with the inner conflict and the anxiety, panic, mania, etc… until the "wave" has run its course.
You'll know when the anxiety wave has run its course because your lower back and tailbone will do an outbreath, move into a more relaxed state and then stay in this position. Your mind will be quiet and the storm will be over.