Learn How To Use These Thoughts & Feelings Towards Growth & Transformation
Depending on where you live in the country, we’re coming up on the two month mark for living and working at home due to the Covid19 coronavirus pandemic. For some of us, this has been a positive experience and for others, the process of social distancing has led to feelings of isolation and loneliness. In fact, this time alone paves the way for many thoughts and emotions to rise to the surface. With little to no distraction, the parts of us that typically hide more easily in our sub-conscious mind are now more easily seen and felt.
The journey of understanding our cognitive and emotional self in an inside job. And, that’s the part that can make this so much more challenging. We cannot hide from our mind although we try to with many types of distractions including food, alcohol, social media, unhealthy exercise and more. As we push uncomfortable thoughts and feelings away, the physiology of the body bears the burden eventually revealing themselves as illness. Until or unless, we are willing to release the mental models created from our past, they will continue to interfere with our daily lives . . . as well as our health.
The Covid19 crisis has provided us the opportunity to heal parts of ourselves hidden in life as it was. Instead of fearing what’s coming up for us, let’s take this opportunity to transform it.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health “includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.”
We ARE NOT OUR THOUGHTS unless of course, you believe you are. The process of transformation is letting go of mental models and belief systems based in memories and learned behavior from our past. The “business of BE’ing within” uses the body to transform the mind. When we try to fix the mind with the mind, we rub up against parts of ourselves that have been heavily invested in a mental model that’s driving a behavior. Even though we may be experiencing some level of suffering from a belief system, it’s serving us in some way which is why we keep doing it. Quite simply, we seek to confirm ourselves with who we “perceive” we are, so we repeat the belief system and behavior over and over until we are ready to release it.
With the understanding that memories and beliefs are stored in the body, not just the mind, we learn to go to the body first, set the table for calm and safety and THEN allow the information to rise to the mental surface without attachment or control. We breathe into these spaces until the body no longer has an emotional charge to the current experience that we’re seeing through an old lens. As we build emotional trust through the breath and the body, we learn how to let the emotions flow through us. As the emotions dissipate, we can then rebuild a new creative mental awareness in the mind that frees us from our past, seeing our experiences in a whole new way.
Try to find gratitude for the mental and emotional struggles you’re experiencing right now. And here’s why . . . the most powerful time to transform is in the eye of the storm. And, what always happens after a storm? Debris is removed and the sun shines brightly.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” —Albert Einstein
The pathway for emotional intelligence starts in the brain. Our primary senses enter here traveling to the front of our brain before we can think rationally about our experiences. However, first they travel through the limbic system, the place where emotions are generated. So, we have an emotional reaction to events before our rational cognitive mind is able to engage.
Cognition is “the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses”. In our overly stressed culture, our cognitive self is often hijacked by the amygdala into learned responses to fear and anxiety because emotions are remembered and attach themselves to memories as a learned response or behavior.
Psychological studies have revealed breathing practices to be an effective non-pharmacological application for improving emotional states including a reduction in anxiety, depression, and stress.
The next time your internal dialogue is taking you on a journey of disruptive thoughts, emotions and self-sabotage, STOP.
- Invite yourself to sit with a memory. When it arises, honor it for the experience lived and the wisdom gained, but leave the emotional charge and attachment behind. Notice where you’re holding this memory in your body. Be the witness, and observe the sensations in your body and in your thoughts when you do this.
- Begin breathing, using the Alternate-Nostril Breathing technique. Use the Ocean Sound to slow your breathing rate and bring the mind fully present. We don’t want it running off into the story. Go through several rounds of this.
- Next, we’re going to do a modified version of Alternate Nostril Breathing that will help dissolve the emotional charge to the memory in the mind and body, opening up a new way for you to view this “problem” in your past. Close off the right nostril, and inhale up the left, bringing this mental memory into the right side of your brain. Pause for a moment at the top of the inhalation. Then close off the left nostril, and exhale out the right, watching the emotion around the memory dissolve. Do this for several rounds until the emotion and pain in the body dissipate. Notice how you’re feeling open to new ways of seeing.
By using this technique, we are only breathing using the parasympathetic nasal channels so we’re releasing the emotional charge (or sympathetic physiology) attached to the thoughts. Once the body & mind are in a calm state, we notice the thoughts from a place of neutrality. Here we can decide to agree, disagree or be in a place of “I don’t know” yet. When you are ready to release the mindset that’s limiting you in some way, you disagree AND free yourself. Now that we’re in a parasympathetic state with our physiology, frame a NEW mental model that’s the complete opposite of the old mental model.
- With the new mental model, we’re going to use only right nostril breathing. Close off the left nostril, inhale up the right slowly into the left brain saying “I AM” on the inhale. Pause at the top of the inhale, then exhale out the right nostril with your new phase i.e. “THRIVING” or “stronger from this experience” or “grateful”.
Depending on how deeply embedded you are in a story, this exercise could take several times to transform it. Pick something simple the first time. Engage in the practice and notice that when you shift the internal communication, you shift the external communication and associated behavior.
Go BE Great!
To learn more, check out Ed’s NEW book BodyMindBusiness: The Business Of BE’ing Within
See Ed On Aspen Brain Institute Speaker Series May 11th @ 4pm EST