Greetings and salutations lovely peeps
This month I have been meditating, visualising, working on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual Reset so I thought I would share a little of my ‘how’ - of listening and being mindful of thoughts, reactions and physical senses.
“To change the printout of the body, you must learn to rewrite the software of the mind.”
We’ve had several years now of a time of continual big changes making it feel as though the sands beneath us keep shifting. Wars and suffering which we can watch closely on TV, uncertainty around food supply and farming, the increase of prescription antidepressants, and on... What’s the antidote to all this? For me, and in my opinion, it’s self care. These days there’s a plethora of techniques that can be found on the internet. Techniques by a number of people, myself included, for various symptoms and conditions. I believe that most of the world is in a state of (I don’t want to say suffering) chronic stress and many, complex trauma. And it doesn’t need to be big things, i.e. unresolved birth trauma, plus childhood trauma (physical, emotional or mental), plus adult trauma/s e.g. abuse, suicide of a family member, war etc. It can be an accumulation of many little traumas such as falls, bangs, bills, stress and more stress, surgery, some medical interventions etc. This all has a deep affect on the nervous system.
So, back to self care. It’s all very well picking out a favourite self care technique but it needs to be appropriate and there needs to be consistency and structure – an investment of time in your health - strengthen your self care muscle. For instance……. My self care programme this month has involved spending more time on being super aware of my body and catching my thoughts before I act or changing the situation I’m in that triggers certain behaviours and increasing the foraged food I eat. My general daily routine though is getting up a bit earlier Monday to Friday to meditate. A time to stop thinking about the world and myself and just be mindless for a period. Followed by at least half an hour of exercise – yoga or the 5 Tibetans or 8 Brocades with occasional kettle bells woven in. After several decades my ‘self care muscle’ is firmly integrated into my cellular memory which my body misses if I don’t do it. Choose something that you like doing or you will likely find reasons not to. I’m also flexible with techniques according to need i.e. homeopathy for hay fever, Flower Remedies, EFT, neurographic art. Creating self care structures in your life helps to reprogramme your life and your health. Neuroscientists discovered that creating new behaviours can be done by rewiring the brain so this is a do-able option.
Just because we have formed neural pathways for patterns that no longer serve us does not mean that we are stuck with those habits forever. Our brains can change and neuroscientists have discovered that creating new behaviours can be done by rewiring the brain. As we participate in new activities, we are training our brains to create new neural pathways. The pathways get stronger with repetition until the behaviour is the new normal. In terms of repetition, it is estimated that it takes 10,000 repetitions to master a skill and develop the associated neural pathway (which may seem like a huge mountain to climb, but just start – focus on the now, one step at a time). Visualization too can be a very powerful tool that can help us build new neural pathways. For example, visualize what your optimal health looks like, feels like, and what you would be doing if your health was managed. Neural plasticity has opened doors of hope for transforming mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, for changing unhealthy habits, and for increasing the potential to experience lasting happiness.
It is also important to understand that every brain is different. Each person has their own unique experiences that have shaped their brain and continue to shape it throughout their lives. Therefore, it really is important to listen to your body.
According to neuropsychologist, Dr. Rick Hanson Ph.D, our brains are wired toward the negative e.g. if we have 10 experiences during the day, 5 neutral everyday experiences, 4 positive experiences, and 1 negative experience, we will probably think about that 1 negative experience before going to bed that night. So, how can we change our brains to focus on the good experiences? One strategy is to focus on the good for 10–20 seconds, really absorbing and storing the experience in our long-term memory. I like to make a mental list before I fall asleep of at least 10 things in my day that I’m grateful for.
By mobilizing our thoughts and practising new ways of thinking, we can reshape our nerve cells and change the way our brains work. Every thought you think and every feeling you feel, strengthens the circuitry in your brain, known as your neural pathways. Neural pathways are the basis of your habits of thinking, feeling, and acting. They are what you believe to be true and why you do what you do.
Beliefs play a central role in maintaining your patterns of perception and behaviour.
Beliefs are often regarded in your mind as the truth or facts of a situation. In reality, they are thoughts you have been thinking and emotions you have been feeling over and over. They are strong opinions at best. But they aren’t necessarily right or wrong, just interpretations of the facts. Change that isn’t supported by the nervous system isn’t lasting change. Stress continues to be a significant factor in modern times with 70% of people reporting chronic stress. Diffusing stress through self-awareness and self-regulation strategies that target nervous system regulation are vital for rewiring neural pathways.
Practice these techniques:
1. Start your morning declaring aloud, with feeling, your goals for the day. Declarations send the power of your subconscious mind on a mission to find solutions to fulfil your goals.
2. Visualization is almost as powerful as the real thing, given your brain cannot tell the difference between something real or imagined. Research shows that anytime you are thinking, you are engaging and so conditioning neural pathways. Consequently, whether you are reminiscing about the past, thinking about the present or anticipating the future you are strengthening the neural networks associated with whatever you are thinking about. The most important part of using visualization to strengthen healthy habits is to engage your emotion. Emotion provides the fuel to enlist more neural power for creating powerful neural networks.
Spend 10-15 minutes per day visualizing your Reset/your new normal. This should be so vivid, dynamic and pleasing that it easily engages positive emotion.
When you meditate you slow down the nonsense, ungrounded chatter of the busy mind and access the calm wisdom of your inner awareness and the skill of clear focus. Meditation is the process of relaxing the body and quieting the mind.
Many of us live in a perpetual state of stress, believing that feeling tense, time pressured or overwhelmed is the norm. This is simply not true.
A book worth reading:
The art of happiness: A handbook for living. -HH Dalai Lama & Cutler, H. (1999).
Through conversations, stories, and meditations, the Dalai Lama shows us how to defeat day-to-day anxiety, insecurity, anger, and discouragement. The Dalai Lama explores many facets of everyday life, including relationships, loss, and the pursuit of wealth, to illustrate how to ride through life's obstacles on a deep source of inner peace. Based on 2,500 years of Buddhist meditations mixed with a healthy dose of common sense, The Art of Happinessis a book that crosses the boundaries of traditions to help readers with difficulties common to all human beings. After being in print for ten years, this book has touched countless lives and uplifted spirits around the world.
Please share with me any thoughts you had after reading these words.