Large needles. Whirring drills. Flying tooth dust. The omnipresent potential for pain.
There are so many things about going to the dentist that I do not enjoy. At all. And I know I’m not alone.
Read More: 5 Ways to Keep Calm and Carry On
An estimated 30 percent of Americans – 100 million of us — experience high to moderate fear at the thought of going to the dentist. Almost 4 percent of us experience such terror of dental visits we’re classified as having a treatable psychological diagnosis.
If you have a case of dental phobia, it may seem like you have only two choices – suck it up, or stay away (and do an extra good job of brushing your teeth.)But as Buddhism teaches us, there is a middle path.
You have a secret weapon against anxiety, even when you’re in that dental chair with your jaw wide open and several hands and various medical instruments inside your mouth.
If you don’t give your mind something to focus on, it is going to find any number of unpleasant topics to chew on—like a puppy, gnawing on anything that sits still. This will only amplify your anxiety, and may prevent you from seeking out the dental care you’ll invariably need at some point.
Give your mind a bone by choosing something else to pay attention to. This is what meditation is all about, and you don’t have to be sitting on a cushion in a quiet room to do it. The dentist’s chair is an ideal place to meditate, and you can take your pick from a variety of techniques to do. No one will be able to tell by looking at you that you’re in the process of quieting your mind and staying in the moment.
Some choices for your “Transcend-Dental” Meditation:
- Inhale calm, exhale stress. Silently repeat the words “calm” and “stress” with each inhale and exhale, or you can choose a color to represent each and imagine that peaceful color filling your lungs when you breathe in and floating out of your body and away from you as you breathe out.
- Count your exhales. Start at 1, go up to 10, then start again at 1. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
- Go to your happy place. Call up an image of your ideal spot—a tropical beach, a hot tub overlooking a snowy mountain setting, a picnic blanket in a field strewn with wildflowers. Absorb every detail of what it feels like to be in that place. The brain can’t perceive the difference between real relaxation and imagined relaxation; take full advantage of this fact with a mini mental vacation.
And for one more technique—and the one I used last year when I had all my ancient, crumbling fillings replaced—check out this video I recorded in the dentist’s chair!
How do you calm down at the dentist? Talk to me on Twitter.
Also good to know: AcaciaTV has other resources for you to learn how to meditation. We’ve got several programs that focus specifically on meditation in stillness and mindfulness and others that are moving meditations that are truly for the mind and body. Start your 10 day free trial membership now and check them out.