All of us have moments of unproductive thinking (maybe lots of moments), and many of us have tried anything and everything to stop it or turn it into something positive. I’m going to add one more tool for your box in this blog post. I’ll call it ‘manifestation of thought in the physical body.’
I’ve suffered with morning depression for a good portion of my life (It ended when I saw the past-life it came from!). The feeling of ‘dread’ when I first woke up was debilitating until I actually got out of bed and began my day. The trouble was actually getting out of bed. It only happened at sunrise, so if I managed to sleep past this time, I was good to go.
One of the tools I used was recognizing how that ‘feeling’ was presenting itself in my physical body. This practice took me out of my head and into another realm of feeling, and from there, the negative thought I had was stopped in its tracks.
At the moment of waking, I immediately asked myself where this ’emotion’ was presenting, or showing up, in my physical body. The trick was to catch this brief moment before the depression hit full force. I already had many years of mindfulness practice, so this seemed like it could be easy.
My first try was successful; however, I questioned it, and then I was taken out of the present moment and back into the feeling of ‘dread.’ From there, I had to try again the next morning. (Another lesson is to not judge yourself as you practice any form of meditation or awareness.)
The next morning I caught the moment as soon as I woke up, before I even opened my eyes. I asked myself where is this feeling showing up in my body? I could feel it in my stomach and there was a tightening of the muscles. I sent my breath there (mindfulness) and slowly breathed in and out. The feeling of ‘dread’ softened as I breathed into my belly. I stayed with that breath for a bit and slowly got up with not another thought of the dread.
Could it be that easy? I’d have to see what the next morning would bring. So, I did it again. Upon waking, I felt the dread coming, and I asked again, “Where is this feeling in my body?” I felt tension in my shoulders. I used ‘mindfulness’ again, and brought my breath into my shoulders, one at a time. They relaxed and a sense of peace came over me; something I haven’t felt in the morning for quite some time. I felt this peace not only in my body, but in my mind.
This is a form of mindfulness practice; noticing when the thought occurs in your mind-catching it in that first moment-and moving it into another form…the physical body. This will take you out of your ‘monkey mind’ and give you another way to observe where the thought is originating. The next time your mind goes to an ‘unhappy’ place, stop and breathe. Scan your body and notice where this ‘thought’ is manifesting. Bring your breath there and watch the thought as it softens.
Is the thought actually in the body? It certainly is. Much of what we’ve experienced, especially trauma, settles in the physical body. The original trauma may have happened at a time in your life when you couldn’t process the full emotion. It’s a coping mechanism and we all have created them and continue to have them and use them.
Yoga is another form of mindfulness practice; watching the movement in your physical body so that the body can release the emotion from the tendons, joints, and ligaments. I’ve had many moments of tears on my yoga mat.
I know this practice will add another layer of ‘feeling’ to your practice and your present moment awareness. Use this technique any time your mind gets away from you. Separate yourself from the thought. Notice the difference between ‘you’ and your mind.
We are already healed…we’ve only forgotten. This is the time of re-membering.
Entering the stream of consciousness through mindfulness.