In physiology I learned why calming down makes seasickness worse. Nausea is a parasympathetic function, or put another way, they put caffeine’s cousin in Dramamine. The zen that got me through 4 births without epidural might test anxiety worse.
But here’s the thing, I didn’t do Lamaze or hypnotherapy, but Bradley method which focuses on cognitive preparation. Breathing is not patterned, and pain signals are understood rather than denied. But I didn’t understand seasickness (and I mean literal fishing boat on the ocean) so all I could do was try and go zen. But surrendering to what you don’t understand isn’t zen, it’s denial.
We think of mindfulness as a stress dissipation technique, but it’s not. It is being present to ones situation without judgment. Expectation of calm is a judgment. In a distress situation, it denies the reality of the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system.
An additional irony I learned in Nurse school is that breathing slow makes the body more acidic/ retains acid in the form of CO2, which in turn excites gastric activity. Breath slow enough, and your body might even need to offload acid (cf. seasickness). We’ve all heard of hyperventilation, but hypoventilation is no better. Now you can really worry about forgetting to breath properly. It is one of nursing’s esoterica we hide behind our secondary school reading level interface.
Another is that mild anxiety is performance enhancing. So we need to embrace the zone, not zone out.
I often speak of a scene in Finding Nemo where they run away from the submarine, and out of 180 dregrees of potential directions, drive themselves along the one directly in dangers path. We cannot choose our feelings, but utilize them as signals about how to interact with our milieu.