I light a little tea candle and place it in front of me as a reminder to feel into the body. It is a new habit I’m integrating daily to replace thinking!
I’m really enjoying the practice of noticing the emotions in the body as felt sensations. It’s like learning a new superpower, and now I always have something useful to do wherever I am. In the car, in bed, sitting here at the kitchen table, out walking in the park. Drop down out of the thoughts and into the body, and where is the sensation being felt right now? Is it in the tummy, the chest, the heart, the throat….How does it feel? Is there a colour, a shape or a texture? I can visualise a perimeter around the sensation, of 30-40 mm, just to give it a little space to be in and move a bit if it wants to.
I particularly love how reliable these felt emotions are in the body. My mind can tell me 10 different contradictory opinions on a thing, but this is one response and it’s never untrue. It’s not imagination generated like many of my thoughts and so hit and miss, it’s what is actually there. It’s very simple.
I’m noticing that the thoughts I have which result in a feeling of worry, actually seem to arise from the anxiety already being experienced emotionally. The little tight fist in my chest is always there when I notice catastrophising thoughts. I wonder if this means those of us prone to anxiety due to our conditioned life experience previously tend to have more worry thoughts or negative rumination? Because we stored the feeling by resisting the pain of it?
If anxiety is already present, the amygdala bit of the brain is alerted and the frontal cortex part of the mind as the executive problem solver jumps in to try and take control and help out by trying to work it out for me, make a plan, identify or anticipate any threats that the anxiety has flagged up to the brain.
However the mind can be over imaginative and wrong and start coming up with threats that are not even there. And that can further alert the amygdala to feeling the imagined threat is real, and add to the anxiety. So the mind and it’s thoughts aren’t so reliable to discern what is true and how to navigate through life with emotions.
Seems to be a bit of a feedback loop. I notice that when I have been doing a lot of the exercise of dropping into the physically felt sense of the emotions, that the thoughts become less frequent. So if I’m feeling no anxiety inside or very little, then there are fewer thoughts. Nothing to alert the brain to threat and generate its ‘solutions’. So the brain is out of a job in a way. That’s because I’m not resisting the emotion of fear, I’m allowing it to be there….so it comes and goes naturally, and it doesn’t get stuck and create an alert response in the body of cortisol and adrenaline. Which then alerts the brain to solve it by thinking about it.
It is as if I have discovered a new superpower. A way to be with pain without the added pain of resistance and the onslaught of my thoughts.
If I drop into noticing what I feel in the body it must be done without a desire to rid myself of the feeling. That would just add further resistance to the emotion. It must be done purely for its own sake, to notice with curiosity and allow what is there to be there. Permission given to the feeling to be there. Sometimes I have to shut my eyes for a minute to be able to focus on what I’m noticing. It is normally a tight feeling in the heart or chest, or constricted feeling in the throat.
Over and over I do this through the day, drop out of the mind into the body. And recently a lot more emotions have been noticed as I have opened this up. That increased sensitivity has been quite destabilising at times and I have noticed that it has been useful having some mainstay habits already in place that provide grounding. Eating healthy food, frequent time in nature, being kind to myself, breathing from low down in the body below the diaphragm, no alcohol, some gardening at the allotment, allowing love and compassion to arise often, and even light chit chat with strangers too.
So today I’m getting the lock fixed at the garage, and a wonder round an old cemetery while they do that, then a visit to the men on site then perhaps meeting E for a walk. Work is being very neglected these days. I do not have the ability to motivate myself at all. Especially as I’m making more mistakes with pricing due to being scrambled in my head. Gave a client one price, forgot I had sent it and repriced it £3500 less and sent again. They were confused but it was still too much for them anyway. I didn’t offer an explanation since they aren’t going ahead anyway. As I get closer to a crisis point the motivation comes, when it becomes a case of ‘must do’. we always land on our feet with enough to do, The Force looks after us 🙂