This is one example of the kind of guided meditations I lead my patients in during clinical sessions. It is a simple way to begin the settling and embodiment process for those not used to relating to their body. It’s also the place to start when learning to self-regulate.
Self-regulation is a term used by the field of affective neuroscience to describe an individual’s ability to consciously and unconsciously manage and modify arousal states. It describes an the ongoing process of finding an equilibrium of the whole in the face of change. Learning how to self-regulate is fundamental to the manifestation and maintenance of health over time. The foundation of self-regulation is embodiment. The only way to begin learning how to be embodied is by developing a relationship with the body. This is done through finding the body in space and being present with the changes happening on a physiological level without expectation or judgment, but rather with an ever expanding sense of curiosity. Another word for this is mindfulness.
Thank you to David Hatfield for introducing me to this exercise.
We often get stuck in cyclical thoughts and feelings, which take us away from living our lives.
This is a simple exercise to help manage cyclical thoughts and/or feelings:
- Consciously become aware of a cyclical thought/feeling you are having or have been having recently.
- Name it. Get a good sense of the puzzle you are trying to solve in your head and how it makes you feel overall.
- Figure out what part of your body this thought/feeling affects the most. It may be your head or it may be something like a tension, constriction, or heaviness somewhere else in your body.
- When you know where it’s located, give it a shape, a texture, and a color. Don’t think too hard about this, just the first thing that comes to mind. Continue reading
Note: I will not be defining the “I” in this post because it is beyond the scope of what I’m writing about. This is why I keep it in quotation marks throughout the post.
This month in my practice the discussion that’s been on the table is the brain. And the “I.” And their relationship.
Often “I” is in some state of consideration about itself or about its relationship with all things non-I. Often “I” is exploring questions about what to do next on its life path, how to express itself to the exterior world while in conflict or how to determine and maintain its sense of value or meaning. In other words, the “I” is a contemplator, finding understanding through consideration.
The brain, on the other hand, is a processor. In the majority of the brain, which is subconscious, information is coming in at high speeds from all the different systems of the body for interpretation. The brain organizes and processes this information and distributes instructions that allow for all the needs of all the body systems to be adequately met at any given moment. In other words, the brain is a problem solver.
Our existence is rooted in the body. We know we are here because we have input from our senses that go directly to our brain and orient us to ourselves, to our surroundings, and to other people. Without these inputs we would be unable to function. Something we do every day, like walking, would become impossible. We wouldn’t feel our foot touch the ground as we take a step. We wouldn’t know to bend our knee and shift weight to the other foot while in stride. And we would promptly fall to the ground.
We obviously take all of this for granted, the continuous loop of information going back and forth between our senses and our brain. And for a good reason. Our attention needs to be elsewhere.