Let’s say for a moment that our entire emotional body were a solar system. The planets represent our deepest desires, moons are our emotions, and the stars symbolize our thoughts blinking around (...like in the billions). They say a person has between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts in one day. Certainly some of these thoughts weigh more than others, and just like the stars, some are more vivid in our minds. Some put us in a positive state of mind, (motivating thoughts, gratitude, or self esteem), and some suck us into a black hole of bad decisions. Let’s focus in on those for a moment.
This is basically a destructive action of some sort. Everyone has these to different degrees, and most would agree they’d like to have less of them in their lives, so are often seeking means to tamp down their effects or let them go all together.
A few examples might be:
Excessive drinking or using drugs
Harmful actions, (self harm)
Calling the ex
...the list goes on
These actions are no doubt caused by deep rooted stress that not only affects our happiness, but contributes to physical health problems as well. Research now supports a link between stress and cardiovascular disease, mental illness, and even autoimmune diseases. But how do we change this? Surely these patterns we’ve established are by now deeply ingrained in our brains so the thought of stepping away from this comfort zone can feel like we're jumping head first into a pool with no water in it. What if we simply took our time, and tried to understand where it all comes from? The following is a 4 part exercise that I routinely used when coaching one on one clients who struggled with eating.
Identify your black holes, pit-falls, vices, or whatever you’d like to call them
Get out a piece of paper or journal and mark down the first few things that come to mind. You can make your answers a bit more specific than what’s listed above such as:
Ex- I’m extremely impatient with my spouse and say things I don’t mean.
Ex- It’s not enough to just have one or two drinks, I keep drinking then I’m mad at myself.
Ex-I eat an entire pint of Haagen Dazs then wish I could take it back.
Keep in mind, black holes are actions that happen quite consistently, thereby making them destructive. This is not about slipping up and eating too much rich food once in awhile, or getting into an argument, these are more pervasive actions that truly interfere with your life. Really take a moment to think about what they might be.
What thoughts lead up to these actions?
Now that we’ve identified the actions, we need to back up and discover the underlying reasons why they happen.
What do these actions have in common?
Well to start, they all begin with thoughts. Here the solar system analogy makes perfect sense. It’s all connected. Thoughts create our feelings, and our feelings create an action or inaction (which is actually still action in that you’ve decided not to act). So it goes something like this:
We experience a thought, then we basically rush to 3 choices: flight, flight, or freeze. Everyone has their favorite and usually acts out what’s most common to them. I’ve found that many of these reactions run in families with a combination of genetics and learned behavior.
Here are a few examples:
Fight- Aggression, hostility, confrontation
Flight- Avoidance behaviors, passive aggression
Freeze- Emotional numbing using (drinking, eating, gambling, sex)
What are the thoughts that proceed these reactions? This one is a little bit tricky since we really have to dig deep to find the root of the problem. Psychotherapy is a common helpful tool as you have another person to help evaluate your personal patterns and help you understand why they’re occurring. There are also nutritional and lifestyle components to feeling unhappy so it’s no surprise that nutritional therapy has helped many who suffer from things like anxiety and depression in addition to the more obvious “physical illnesses”. But today’s lesson is not about something that comes on a plate, bottle, or prescription pad. It costs nothing, and takes about 5 minutes per day to start.
Here comes the sun: The power of meditation
The sun is part of this whole system too, and boy is she brilliant. She helps us see things more clearly so we can really get to the bottom of WHY we feel as we do. More importantly, why we wish things were different in this moment. This, my friends is meditation.
Using the breath
Meditation is a technique that involves using your breath as a tool to help balance the nervous system and cultivate quiet, focused energy. Deep breathing for as little as 5 minutes every day can help to weave the connection between our physical body and our deepest thoughts and needs.
Consider your breath the wind that whips through the solar system tying everything together. Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, (or the rest and digest nervous system), where all the healing happens in the body. The more we continue to practice, the more the body learns to activate its “relaxation response” so that stress responses simply can’t take over any longer. This has tremendous effects on our emotional health and overall wellbeing.
Sit in a comfortable position. This is always the first step, since it sets the whole foundation for your practice. Ideally, your knees should be lower than your hips, so you might feel comfortable sitting on a pillow or pile of blankets. Bring your awareness to your breath. Focus your attention on the space between the nostrils and follow your inhales and exhales, in and out through the nose for 5 minutes or so. When your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath. This is a great place to start, and when you’re ready you can begin to sit longer. Aim to do this practice at around the same time each day so it becomes part of your routine.
Get clearer about what you want in this moment
Once you’ve cultivated more awareness using meditation, this is the time to go inside and really ask yourself, “What do I want?” What am I missing in my life this moment? Whenever I do this exercise one word answers always come to mind. Things like:
This may take several tries but once you can come up with a few words, you’re 99% there. Knowing what we want puts us in a very sexy state of mind. It gives us a wave of courage and motivation that’s unparalleled.
Practice this 4 step exercise whenever you feel like you’re in a cycle of negative behavior or you feel your spirit spiraling toward a lower frequency, and do it consistently. Even when you feel like you’re getting stronger, continue to meditate and you will learn to build a quiet, strong peace of mind that only a connection between the mind & body can create. Allow meditation to become your spiritual guide that will allow the true essence of who you are to shine for the world to see.
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PPS. It includes a 15 minute guided meditation;)