Turn Stress into Strength: Empty Your Mind to Feel Your Senses
by Debbie Mandel
Life is a struggle. We can be victimized by it or we can train to stand up for ourselves. Worries, ambiguities and doubts whirl around in our brains. The byproducts of a feverish mind are an inability to concentrate and accomplish. We feel tired during the day, yet at night we lie in bed eyes wide open counting our problems like sheep. The way to break this cycle is to empty the mind of negative thoughts and feel our way around our world with our senses.
The first step is to change our vocabulary from “I think” to “I feel.” To express our feelings and act on them instead of accommodating all those lined up waiting for us is a significant improvement. Yet, “I feel” is still a verbalization of the rational mind. We have the capacity to rationalize and justify anything. To truly get into our feelings we have to be more primitive and elemental - to really experience and listen to our gut reactions. Our senses are more honest and direct than our thoughts.
This does not mean we should become vain or egotistical and seek a life of pure sensual pleasures. In order to satisfy both head and heart, body and soul, we need to train the mind and body to work together in synchrony. If we are always in our head, rationalizing, we do not perceive the signals the body sends us, lose our vitality, and increase the likelihood of disease or a breakdown in our relationships and career. We forget how to be spontaneously happy. We need to communicate with our bodies and receive that communication, so that it becomes automatic and we flow in whatever we do. Here are some suggestions to get out of your head and into your heart:
- Train your mind to focus on whatever you are doing. If you are distracted, empty your mind and clean out the clutter.
- Sit still, breathe to your own natural rhythm; close your eyes for five minutes as you give yourself a specific image or affirmation, or you might look at a beautiful picture and close your eyes. Then begin your next activity.
- Focus on your breathing and visualize. Inhale a white fog, two counts through the nose and exhale a dark fog, four counts through the nose. With each breath feel your heart relax to beat in its natural rhythm.
- Exercise to clear your mind and energize your body. Options are: lift weights to lift your spirits, take a brisk walk, or an aerobics class. Exercise provides the opportunity to just do and not to think. The body burns off cortisol and releases endorphins naturally when you exercise. You do not have to tell your body to do so. When you become proficient in your exercise, you flow - you do not think about the movement, you just do it, like a smooth golf swing.
- Pray to a Divine force as though you were opening your heart to a friend who loves you just the way you are.
- Lose yourself in a good book.
- Now that your mind is emptying, your senses become more alive. Experience your sense of smell, taste, touch, sound and sight. Feel the signals they send you. If you think about a person or situation and experience a bad smell or foul taste in your mouth, your primal intuition is trying to tell you something. Listen to it to avoid a painful event.
- If you experience a panic or anxiety attack, where are you going or where have you just come from? What are your senses trying to direct your attention to?
- If you experience a pain in you body, what is your body trying to tell you? Ask yourself where the pain has lodged and what it symbolizes: Is it your knees- a fear of moving forward? Your heart- grief? Your back- lack of support?
The goal is to live in the moment. Some moments are painful and sad. But they are moments. Other moments are comical and joyous. For example, a pregnant woman might throw up all morning, feeling thoroughly nauseated. Yet in the evening she is enjoying a delicious big meal. Whatever we are experiencing in life is momentary. We get overloaded and then like our muscles we adapt. Funny, how we reflect on our past struggles and remember the good old days. Let’s vow to recognize and appreciate the good old days now!
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer at Southampton College. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WHLI 1100AM in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com