MIND BODY PATTERNS
Today I had the good fortune of guest teaching at a Health class at the University of Cincinnati. I had 50 minutes to try and explain why the True Body Project work is important to the concept of health and wellness. I tried to get across how the mind and body work together to create intricate, habitual patterns ... most of them under the radar of our consciousness ... and that unless these patterns are exposed and examined, we may end up stuck in repetition mode.
Back when I was drinking heavily AND daily, I hoped for change every single day. I would wake up frustrated and dispirited and decide in my mind that that day would be different, that was the day I would drink less or not at all. Then, I would go through all the exact same rituals (coffee, cigarette, stare at the computer, not eat properly, get annoyed with people) and then be frustrated and dispirited when I would follow the pattern all the way to the Jack Daniels or Chardonnay end of things.
I read a great article recently that suggested that we no longer want what we like. We just want the want. And we don't have to like what we want to still want it. In short, our bodies just get stuck in the pattern of wanting. In the late 90s, for me, my body was stuck in the pattern of craving and wanting. It was a seemingly endless loop of hoping for change but being trapped in the status quo.
YOUR DIET - IT IS ABOUT SO MUCH MORE THAN FOOD
So today, at U.C., we looked at our "Diet" in the broadest sense of the word. What do we take in? What do we think about? What do we do? What are the things we are consuming and considering? Are we stuck in a pattern that is disconnected from our goals?
We looked at the following categories. You can make your own list. It is unhelpful if you answer in the aspirational voice (i.e. what you think you should be doing as opposed to the real list). Write your truth. It is the only way to shift a pattern.
I ATE - What have you eaten in the last 24 hours? Had to drink?
I LOOKED AT - What media have you consumed? Facebook? Law & Order? Literature? How much? Most young people consume more than 40 hours a week of media - the equivalent of a full time job. So it most definitely effects our overall well being.
I TALKED ABOUT - Did you talk about other people? Did you gossip? Did you talk about artistic ideas? Did you talk about history or the news? Did you talk about the same problem you talked about yesterday? Did you talk at all?
I THOUGHT ABOUT - Did you day dream? Did you think about how to move a project forward or did you think about how to meet George Clooney?
I DID - What did you actually do? Did you do what you intended? Did you exercise? Did you nap? Did you work? At work, were you actually productive?
I TRUSTED - Who did you actually reach out to and ask for their support of advice? We tend to rely on our sense of connectedness without exercising our connections.
I HELPED - Who did you serve? Did you smile at someone? Did you open a door? Did you volunteer? How did you get out of your own self-interest to connect with someone else?
I LEARNED - We have these huge, elastic, awesome brains. What is something useful that you learned today? Did it expand your consciousness?
I THANKED - Who did you actively express your gratitude to? This is another way to shift the paradigm of stuckness.
So my guess is that you didn't make a written down list but made a mental one instead. I would suggest that you go back and make a real list - either handwritten or typed. The simple process of connecting ideas to movement, even if just the movement of our fingers and hands to execute writing, is a way to jump start the neuro-muscular system to tell it you mean business. And we often use the logical part of our brain to tell us stories that make our nonsensical behavior palatable. ("I was doing great with exercise until he dumped me." "You would drink too if you were as stressed as I am.") Movement - even of the writing sort - helps us access feelings of our emotional body that we may be overriding habitually to avoid change.
Your elastic brain and your willing body are ready, willing and able to create new and helpful neuro-muscular habits to serve you. Are you ready to let them?
AN EXAMPLE - HOW ARE YOU SLEEPING?
Today, I heard that a lot of students have difficulty sleeping. I also hear this a lot from my female friends. Usually, when insomnia is an issue, we probably start thinking about it, actively, around 10 p.m. or so when we are trying to begin the process of getting to sleep. We so badly want a good night sleep. But did we do anything different from the day before to tell the mind and the body that we are moving into a new pattern?
The body loves patterns. It tries to figure out what we want it to do and then it does that and repeats it until there is new input. So our insomnia body continues to wake up at 1 a.m. because this is the pattern we have established. Often, the sleep cycle gets interrupted because of an adrenalin kick in the night from a drop in blood sugar. This comes from erratic sugar intake from food or alcohol. So if you don't change the intake into the body and/or consider what it is triggering in your sleep cycle, you can expect to be awake in the middle of the night for a long time.
One of the most noted early benefits for recovering alcoholics is the ability to sleep through the night. Basically, when we were drinking, our bodies woke up to express a craving. By eliminating or reducing alcoholic intake, we take the body off the blood sugar roller coaster so it can sleep.
We are often more sensible about our vehicles than we are about our own bodies. If you put sugar in the fuel line, what happens? If you don't put oil in the car, what happens? Understand the consequences of your intake. You don't have to be judgmental but if you want to change, you need to be discerning and realistic.
Does this make sense to you? It is so helpful to hear feedback to know if these mind/body posts resonate with you. If you have time, send me a note on my Facebook or on this "Comment" page. I am especially interested in hearing how you shifted from a stuck place into new behavior.