Going Beyond Positive Thinking to Create a New Inner Soundtrack
There's a background din of noise that people suffer from. We have years of opinions, experiences, and social messages build up inside us, and I would venture to say that all people experience this background noise, to varying degrees. The "sound" of this background noise has different soundtracks for different people. Some of us experience a sense of constant hurriedness, that we're never getting enough done. Others have a feeling of anxiousness and fear, as if something scary or bad is going to happen. For others, it may be an emotional habit of resistance, such as trudging our way through our "to dos", sometimes even when we were initially excited about them. There are many more background sounds; the list is as varied our personal experiences. Let me tell you an experience I had with my own "background noise". A couple of weeks ago, as I was teaching a week-long course at Kripalu called "Move It!", I felt resistance to teaching on one particular afternoon. When I checked inside and asked into the feeling of resistance, "Why are you here, do you have a message for me?", it replied "I'm scared".
The group I was teaching was a wonderfully safe group to teach, so in some ways this message didn't make sense. In the work of Body Psychotherapy, I teach that we can watch our bodies hold onto emotions and messages that may not be "appropriate" in present time. They are our unfinished pieces, and they emerge in our present lives so that we may recognize them and develop a deeper sense of completeness within. When addressing these tender, unfinished pieces, it is futile to try and convince your body that it is wrong, that it is just silly, or that it shouldn't feel the way that it does. But if we know something could be different, what then is the key to this problem of the interfering background noise?
The answer has to do with shifting realities. We know that one way to do this is directly through movement and dance, simply and playfully creating a change of any stagnant energies. Another way is a thought-changing technique that I used this particular time. As I describe it, you will see that it is a very usable tool for all of us. These internal background messages create conflict between our logical brain and our feeling body. To resolve this conflict of needs, the key to healing our body is to give it what it is craving! This may sound ridiculously simple, yet in some ways, emotional healing is actually very simple on a fundamental level. Follow This: What my body simply needed was a sense of safety. How can you give your body a sense of safety when that is far from its experience? This process can take a few minutes, and there a number of ways to approach it, but I like to use the mind-to-body process of envisioning safety. We can work with the plasticity of the brain. When life has a background din of a recurring feeling, we can feel like we've lost that malleability or plasticity. So that's what I did. I performed a visualization that I brought into my body. I invited the presence of a few people that I deeply trust to be with the part of me that is scared. No judgment or pressure to be different, just love for the part of me that is and was scared. As I took that support into the fear, the fear softened. My body relaxed, and I looked forward to the afternoon. One of the best parts was that as I headed to the room to teach, I passed by a cone in the hallway by the sauna area (you know, those little cones when the floor is wet). It had been there the whole week, so I must have passed by it at least 6-8 times already. Yet this time as I walked past, I read what was written on the cone: SAFETY FIRST. Details matter. This little sign made me remember a basic life principle: when we create the inner feeling of what we want to experience from outside us, we can more easily recognize its presence in the outer world. When we live from the feeling that we are safe, we will better see all the welcoming people around us. Let's say you are trying to shift that feeling of constant hurriedness, never-enough stress. You can go straight to the root of the problem by deeply support the place inside where you can see, "I'm being supported in being unhurried, relaxed, clear and focused." As you focus on this alternate soundtrack, you will feel a shift in your body-mind state, from that din of scattered, hurried thought and action to a clear, grounded presence. You will begin to see the people around you that support your grounded, focused self. This type of thinking can also help you acknowledge the opposite truth, that there are many around us who walk in the same din of noise we do, that are pressured themselves, but we need not be as glued into their reality. You will know and recognize that state of mind-body intimately, yet you will have created a bit of a buffer around its immediate expression. I invite you to try these techniques next time you feel overwhelmed by an old, well-known but unanswered inner soundtrack. When we remind ourselves to take the five or ten necessary minutes to reset our inner soundtracks, it can make all the difference in the rest of our day. And you deserve that new sense of peace. Dan Leven