We are not meant nor designed to be under constant stress. Take, for example, mouth breathing. When you breathe thru your mouth as your primary mode of respiration you are stressing your system.
Let’s say you’re worried about something at work and haven’t been sleeping well. This emotional event creates a physiologic stimulus that is interpreted as you being under threat. So your body kicks into protect mode and part of protect mode is get as much air IN as possible. Who knows when your next breath is going to come, better get the air now.
Look, I get the “stiff upper lip” cultural norm of just plowing thru life and pushing anything that gets in your way. A sort of self-punishment that we wear as a badge of honor – something I’ve certainly done.
But we have a biological need to come down after stressful events (which includes thoughts — they’re neurological events as real as any other). Animals in the wild experience stress and danger routinely, yet most aren’t traumatized and limping around with stiff and painful backs or clinical anxiety. But zoo animals and most humans are experiencing this kind of dysfunction.
Read on to discover why, and learn a new strategy I've come up with to help.
2016 was a busy year for me in the reading category. I find that books are some of my best mentors: offering insights that are tangible and always accessible. To me books are an investment, not an expense, and building a personal library is a powerful source of wisdom. I have readers of this blog who often ask where I get my ideas and the "where do you learn that?" question. Much can be answered by the books on this list. So if you're looking for some new reading material in 2017 read on to discover my favorite, and eclectic list, from this past year.
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!
How much do you know about pain? We know pain is an unpleasant experience often associated with injury and something that most of us try to avoid. But did you know that pain is generated by the brain 100% of the time? Or that pain is not an accurate measure of the health and status of our tissues and joints? This knowledge fundamentally dictates how we reduce and eliminate pain. Read on to hear about my new webinar, The Fundamentals of Understanding and Healing Pain, and what you can do to learn more.
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...
Ever notice yourself holding your breath or crushing the steering wheel without even thinking about it? Do you have receding gums or exposed enamel because you keep smashing your toothbrush into your teeth while brushing? I am sometimes guilty of clenching my jaw when concentrating hard on something or when I find myself getting upset - or am I getting angry because I’m clenching my jaw?.
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...