There are no more than 17 hot topics being spun around in the world and our news cycles nowadays: $200 dates, self-care, “being triggered”, social media, D***** T****, #MeToo, the perpetual loss of Black life, and the like. Since becoming a therapist, I choose to disconnect from almost all of it in order to show up mentally and emotionally for my clients and families day in and day out. So, I could imagine that I would seem somewhat of a hypocrite for saying that what keeps me afloat, what gives me breath, what keeps me in the present, and what has changed my life for the past five years is yet another buzzword of 2019: meditation.
Now, for some of us, I know it seems like some far off distant land, whether you immediately bring to mind Tina Turner chanting a Buddhist mantra to deal with Ike’s brutality in the epic movie, What’s Love Got to Do With It, or you just imagine sitting Indian style with your hands in the air. But, meditation has not been a fad for me. When I say that slowing down, feeling my body in the space, and looking at my thoughts one by one has been a sanctuary for me, it’s because it has. Understanding the connections among my emotional, spiritual, and physical experiences and its impact on how I show up in the world, has been balm to my bruises and stillness in my storms.
Because of my own transformation, I will tell anyone within earshot that being mindful about your body and its connection within your universe is where healing begins. I have witnessed what happens for folks when they connect their bodies with their stories. I have watched them heal. So, think of the considerations below as steps into your own healing.
Connecting your body to your thoughts, feelings, and emotions
Within your story, there are an infinite amount of emotions to be sensed, thoughts to be pondered, and feelings to be felt. By realizing that these three elements are three wholly separate experiences, both interconnected and mutually influential, you can step into the awareness that is the present moment.
For example, say you are overworked, under stimulated, and in need of some care (I know I’m talking about us, but I won’t be too loud). That’s how you’re feeling. That feeling could manifest as being agitated by your significant other or friend at work, or instead, maybe it’s a sadness that you can’t quite name but is turning getting out of bed into a marathon.
Agitation and sadness are the emotions.
The thoughts associated with these experiences could be numerous: “I need to keep going”, “This is just too much”, “Who are you to take on so much work anyway?”, “But, what if ____?”, “You can’t do this” or the most defeating one, “If I don’t do ____, I’m not _____.”
By way of mediating, plugging into your senses, getting physically active through drumming, sports, yoga, running, just walking a few times a week, or even a combination of it all, you have the power to preventatively and presently understand how your different experiences are impacting you and your decisions moment-to-moment. Once you can tune into your body and slow things down enough, you truly do have the power to choose.
Getting curious, not judging, your feelings
We’ve all done it–“I’m so mad I’m even mad about…” or you’re 3 seconds from BIG crying at what should be one of the most joyous moments of your life (I’m looking at you, graduation brunch). There you are in all of your humanness and glory, having your feelings, and then there you go judging yourself for it. By allowing yourself to feel whatever comes up at whatever moment, you give yourself permission to essentially say that you are important. When you allow yourself to lean into the emotion and really feel it, you are saying, “I am valid. What I feel matters. What I think is okay. I am okay.” WHO DOES THAT? You do. You can. Try curiosity on for size the next time you feel an emotion you’d rather run away from in the other direction. Give these a try: “Oh, I see that I’m feeling ____. Hmm... I wonder why I’m feeling that right now. I wonder where that’s coming from. Where and when have I felt that before?” I’d like to see where you end up (and bring the tissues).
Regulating your body and its reactions
Most importantly, how you calm down and take care of yourself is key. If you have a storm going on within the inside of that beautiful clay vessel of yours, you’ll have a difficult time standing in the sunshine of the present moment. Breathing deeply really changes things.
What would it be like for you to breathe in from the soles of your feet, following your breath as it rises through your body and through the top of your crown, over and over again for five minutes?
What would it be like for you to set aside 10 minutes doing absolutely nothing with minimal engagement (no phone, no music, no sleep)?
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (Hey, YouTube!) is my go-to when inviting others to a life of mindful living. Knowing where you hold your tension, where your body remembers and is keeping score, further helps you connect to your body and really listen to what it needs.
While eating kale chips and aligning your chakras may not be for you, meditation and mindfulness is for everyone, and it’s what you and your body and your loved ones and those in your sphere of influence, deserve. Give breathing in and remembering who you are a try, and watch how being your own breath of fresh air, be what you need.
Thanks for reading! If you found the tips above meaningful and helpful, this article and more can be found at TaylorPMFT.com. Come join us!