I have been working with a particular middle-aged woman for some time now. We'll call her Brenda. She has been suffering from poor digestive health, multiple sclerosis, and unrelenting back pain for more than 7 years now. Always on edge, she feels categorically unable to relax her body, especially her back.
Upon my asking, she felt the last time she was able to feel fully relaxed was when she was just 8 years old, playing with her stuffed animals in her room. She had some trauma with her parents around that age that persisted for years afterwards and she hasn't been able to feel relaxed since. Imagine living 45 years and never feeling relaxed in your own body.
Isn’t it always a paradox when you hear someone say, “Just relax” as if it’s a conscious decision the person is making to be tensed and keyed up. Like “yeah the thing I want most in the world is to be stressing out right now”.
Read on to understand a connection between our perceptions, stress, and movement and how you can get first dibs on my fully-downloadable audio course: Movement Meditations.
Hello! It's been awhile since I've posted on the blog but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy. Read on to discover:
What do you get when you try to force yourself to relax? Well, the opposite of relaxation. I’ve practiced meditation consistently for two-plus years now because I thought I needed to relax (and I definitely did). So I started out just sitting there trying to reduce my habitual thinking – to not think - but the harder I tried the more I thought and the tighter I got. I tried some guided meditations but mostly I was just lost in the guide’s words.
Read on to learn how to start the process of letting go and get more information on how to access my recent webinar on pain that crushed last week!
Ever feel completely lost in thought? Almost like you’re addicted to something that’s on your mind? I mean I feel that way a lot. We are humans, after all, and we have thousands upon thousands of thoughts per day. The exact number isn’t really clear but Kahneman (Nobel Prize winner) says we have 600k “psychological presents” per month (20k per day). That is a lot of thoughts.
How do you get to where you’re going if all you know is where you’ve been? Imagine walking up to a forest and there’s a clear path in front of you. Our natural inclination is to take it. But if you’re stuck – with physical pain, anxiety, or whatever else – you know where that path leads. Yet most of us go down it any way, repeating the same way of moving, behaving, and believing. So how do we go off the path and forge a new one?
It’s fascinating how little sensory cues can bring us right back to a memory, isn’t it? Like just this morning at the end of my workout, I was quickly transported back to memories of playing high school football — and it felt real. As if I were back on the field with all the sensations and emotions my mind could conjure up. And no, I wasn’t reveling in the “glory days.”
A smell or sound, even a physical position can trip those neurotags — a specific pattern of neuron activation that produces a specific response — to fire off. Perhaps it was the sensation of perspiration or the feeling of fatigue that tripped off my particular tag. Luckily for me it was a pleasant memory. But sometimes, these memories aren't so pleasant...
Recently I was doing an early morning trail run along the Chattahoochee River here in Atlanta. It was going well, relatively speaking as I’m not exactly an aerobic monster, until I tripped over a tree stump and bit it. Hard.
But I wasn’t injured, I was actually exhilarated. Because the fall made me realize that right before the wipe out I had been pulled out of the present moment – stuck in thought - and a few scrapes brought me right back. It didn’t hurt because the acuity of the moment didn’t allow me to label it as good or bad. It just was. I got up with a newfound sense of presence and kept running.
When is the last time you felt something without trying to label it? It's as if we can't help ourselves...
Imagine walking across a narrow, one-foot-wide plank on the floor of your living room. Knowing that any misstep will allow you to safely step onto the floor in the comfort of your own home, how stressed would you be to perform this task? Would you be physically tense or anxious if you raised the board half a foot? Probably not much, six inches is pretty manageable. You still have some options.
But what if you raised it fifteen feet?
The interesting thing about beliefs is that they are merely opinions, convictions. Not immutable facts. A belief is a learned habit of mind, a perception of our own reality. Yet many people hold these "facts" about the function of their body, their abilities, or their structure as unchangeable. But in reality we are a highly adaptable species and thru exploratory movement we can shed some of these distorted beliefs.