Monthly Archives: April 2014

Love & Anxiety #15: “To feel or not to feel….

At the end of last week’s blog, I mentioned that emotions begin as physiological events and not as emotional contracts and I promised to share more. I am not saying that we don’t experience emotions as mental constructs, but that the physiological change in the body comes first. Our then minds realize, ‘oh I am really angry, or, I am depressed’.  

To clarify this a bit more, let’s talk about language. The mind’s language is of course, words! As noted in the above examples. However, our body has its own language and speaks to us, but we often do not hear or even try to listen. The body’s language is Sensation.  Perhaps you have heard these phrases:feeling things in our guts; that pit in the middle of my stomach; or, the tightness in my chest, etc. Less often, we may be aware of a lightness in our hearts, a warm expansiveness in our chests, etc. This is the language of the body. It buzzes, constricts, contracts, chills, warms, opens, expands, just to name a few of the body’s words.

The reasons we are often unaware of, or completely ignore our body’s messages, is we have forgotten this language. We deem those messages irrelevant to our busy grown up lives. Somewhere between elementary school and high school, most humans cease listening to their bodies and begin to live in their heads. Our culture and our role models (adults) usually reinforce the message that our mind is the master and carrier of the most important information. Often it is our poets; musicians, film directors, artists, creative types, etc., who are the holdouts staying connected to both languages, which is one reason we adore them so.

If a person lives in her mind a majority of the time, she will have trouble really experiencing her emotions because she is not truly inhabiting her body. Until the sensations get soooo big, she can’t ignore them anymore. This is one reason why people who spend lots of time in their heads obsessing and worrying, experience high levels of body anxiety. The body is a lot bigger than the mind, especially when it comes to the “negative” emotions. (Not because they are bad, but because they FEEL so bad.) Anger, fear, sadness, when you have tried to tamp them down and ignore them for too long, eventually they will surge out and blow up. When they do, it’s usually a mess. We rant at someone, or go into a deep depression, or have anxiety and panic attacks, to give a few examples. 

Next week I will publish Part two of this blog, sharing more about embodied, present, living and how to more easily deal with our emotional storms. Stay tuned!

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my lovely Aussie friends displaying two powerful emotions -joy and anger

Going Deeper;

1.) What emotions are you comfortable experiencing and which emotions are outlawed from your life? Do you resonate with the information that when we stuff and bury emotions for too long, they burst up and make a mess?

2.) Are you comfortable in your body? Can you listen to its language of sensation? What sensations are you currently most aware of?

 

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Love & Anxiety # 14: In Praise of Uni-tasking!

Hopefully you tried some of the suggestions in the last blog and found them beneficial. Today’s blog could be an addendum to the previous blog on the pace of life. Because hectic, busy people often perform that purported time saving talent, multi-tasking!Actually, in our fast paced world, most of us have to do some multitasking to not be buried under all of our tasks and responsibilities. However, just like racing about, today I suggest that consistent multitasking is not a beneficial practice and can lead to increased anxiety!

When we multitask, we split our focus into at least 2 or more streams of attention. We return emails or text while talking to our children after school, we plan our daily schedule while at the gym, or talk on the phone while walking on the beach. There is nothing wrong with doing these things simultaneously, but have you considered what you might be losing even while you gain a few minutes in your schedule? If you are texting while talking to your family, you are missing a true intimate connection with them. You may hear what they are saying, but you are not connecting with them as you would be if you were fully present and just listening. On the beach, you are missing a big dose of refreshment and beauty because your attention is distracted by having to give some focus to your phone call.

When we are focusing on more than one thing, task, person, etc., we are not fully present. In fact, if we are honest with ourselves, we are rarely fully present. Many experts state the importance of mindfulness and “being” in the moment! There are reasons these two things are so often recommended. When we are deeply grounded in our bodies in the present moment, (not in our minds worrying or planning our next move), we are rarely anxious or deeply stressed. When you are present and aware of your environment, a different region of your brain is engaged and that region directly connects to our amygdala. (Early blogs talk more about this smoke/danger detector in our brain.) When you are aware and present to your environment, that direct connection allows your body to automatically calm down, barring any actual danger. “Awareness is curative”, states a famous writer whose name I cannot currently recall, perhaps because I am focusing on writing this blog;)

Whenever we are in our minds stressing and obsessing about future, or tasks we have to do, or worrying about the past and what we already did, we are not grounded or feeling safe in our own body. Therefore, multitasking can set us up to experience more anxiety. As opposed to, if we are present throughout our day focusing on one thing at a time. As a side note, think about how much less focus you have on each task, if your attention is broken up into many different streams.

You may think what I suggesting is impossible with your busy schedule. But I encourage you to try. Just one day, set your intention to be in your body, stay present and aware as you encounter one thing, one task or one person at a time. It may make you really uncomfortable at first because your mind may be shrieking at you to pick up the pace, get more done. But most people get past that fairly quickly and then report experiencing much greater enjoyment throughout that day! It is hard to feel deep joy or pleasure if you are not present in your body because emotions begin as physiological events not as mental constructs. More about this in the next Blog.Image

                    Children find uni-tasking much easier. Ben & Eli at the beach!

Going deeper:
1) Does this blog apply to you? How often do you multi-task? How often are you present and aware and focusing on only what is in front of you?  
2) Are there areas in your life where introducing uni-tasking may be easier?  If you give any of concepts in this blog a try, be sure to notice how your body responds. (The body “speaks” in the language of sensation, the mind uses words.) If it is too overwhelming to begin with an entire day, try beginning with moments during your day.