Freeze is a common response to fear, especially in life-threatening situations that are difficult to escape.
Freezing, like fight or flight, is an involuntary response. This means that it is not under conscious control. The body freezes automatically. Because this response is automatic, it can feel like a physical paralysis, and can be very frightening.
This relaxation script uses grounding techniques to help you re-connect with your surroundings if you experience a panic response. By practicing often, you can become familiar enough with these techniques to remember to use them during a freeze response. This relaxation audio can be used in situations that often cause you to freeze. For example, if you tend to experience the freeze response in public places, wear headphones and practice this meditation in a public place.
Practice this guided meditation often when you are not experiencing a freeze response, so you can train yourself for how to deal with panic when it does occur.
Find a location where you can sit or stand in one place.
Now focus your eyes on one spot. You may want to look at your feet…or at a spot on the wall…a music player or a book that you are holding…choose something that is not moving. Keep your gaze here for now, tuning out all the other things around you…just looking at one spot.
Let’s begin with calm breathing. Breathe out first, blowing out all the air…and then inhale naturally…automatically…
When your lungs have filled, exhale again smoothly, feeling the air moving out of your body. Breathe in again naturally.
Breathe slowly out…in…out…in…out…
Keep breathing slowly and smoothly…allowing your breath to calm you…
Whenever you feel tense, you can focus on your breathing…only your breathing…turning your attention completely to your breathing…noticing nothing else…just each breath…
The freeze response is natural. There is nothing wrong with you, and nothing to fear about the freeze response. When it happens, it will not last long.
Let’s practice some grounding techniques that can help whenever you experience freeze. First, awareness. After focusing on your breathing for a few moments, as you have just done, turn your awareness outward, toward your environment.
As you continue to focus your eyes on one spot…and breathe calmly…feel your clothing against your skin.
Notice the temperature of the air around you.
Hear the sounds around you. Just listen…taking in the sounds.
Focus again on your breathing, tuning out your environment for a moment…noticing your breathing…focusing on each breath moving in…and out…breathing calmly…focused on your breathing…
Now focus on the spot where you are looking…this one spot, not moving…notice the details of this one spot. Now turn your gaze somewhere else, and notice another area of your environment. Keep looking around slowly, observing. Where are you right now? What is going on around you?
Notice all the things that are still. Are there walls…or signs…or trees? The ground is steady. See how solid and steady the ground is. You are calm and still. It is just fine to be standing in one place.
As you continue to look around, notice the movement happening around you. What is moving? Are there people walking?
As you look around at this scene, you can determine if there is any danger there. See that you are safe.
Notice where you are and what is happening around you.
Now rub your hands together…actually do this movement right now as you relax. Feel the sensation of your palms…the warmth generated by rubbing your hands together. Hear the sound made by this movement. Feel where your hands are. Now let your hands come to rest…and notice that your hands are warm and relaxed.
You can use this movement to give yourself a point of focus, an anchor…something to help keep you grounded in the present and in touch with your body. When you are grounded, you will no longer be in a state of freeze.
The next time you experience panic or you freeze, you can use these techniques to help resume normal movement, thinking, and functioning. Let’s review the techniques again.
Focus your gaze on one spot…only looking in one place…a single, non-moving place.
Concentrate on your breathing…deliberately breathing out, and then naturally allowing your body to breathe in, all on its own.
Notice the environment around you…bit by bit…using your senses of touch, hearing, and vision, one at a time. Start with touch. Feel the temperature around you…the feel of your clothing…the surface that supports you. Next, hearing…listen to the sounds around you. Now, vision. See the spot where you are looking. See the details there. Then turn your attention to another location and observe. Slowly move your eyes and take in the sights around you, piece by piece.
Evaluate the environment around you. Notice where you are, and what is going on. See that you are safe.
Rub your hands together…notice that by doing this movement you are warming up your hands, feeling calm and centered…and you are no longer frozen.
Keep repeating each anchoring technique until you are no longer experiencing a freeze response.
Focus your eyes on one spot.
Concentrate on your breathing.
Notice the environment around you, using the senses of touch, hearing, and vision.
Evaluate your surroundings and see that you are safe.
Rub your hands together, feeling calm…able to move…expanding upon this movement to move wherever you like.
You can use these anchoring techniques anywhere to overcome the freeze response. Practice these techniques often when you are not in a panic or freeze state, and the techniques can become so familiar to you that you can use them automatically when needed.
Conclude this relaxation exercise by taking a few moments to stretch…ensuring that your mind and body are fully awake. When you reach your usual level of alertness and awareness, you can resume your regular activities, feeling calm.