Creating a New Attitude
This seems like a fitting focus as we approach the new year. This is a fun and unique year for me in that I'll have had the opportunity to lead two New Year's retreats at Kripalu, one for the Jewish New Year this past September and now for (I'm not sure what its called) but the other new year which is right around the corner. A new year can be a time of reflection and renewed sense of purpose. So I'd like to focus this column on cultivating a new attitude that involves our whole being and body for this new year. Having just finished leading my SomaSoul 5-day training at Kripalu this past Friday I got so excited about a transformational piece that really coalesced over the week and yes, it has something to do with a new attitude. As part of the whole being that we all are, in that we contain a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual process as part of what it means to be human, we will work with these 4 levels to create our new attitudes! Our "attitudes" towards ourselves and our worlds seems to primarily live in the mental aspect of our being. Yet, even though our attitudes or beliefs we may first think of as being purely mental processes, they are not! You'll get the picture in just a moment. For almost all of us, our beliefs run in the background and yet profoundly shape each moment of our life. I kind of think of our beliefs as the software that we use to create our lives with. And there are a couple "viruses" within this software based on the beliefs we have unconsciously adopted. Since discovering our beliefs can be so difficult to do, I have a couple great hints to sleuth them out and then work with them as we create a new attitude for our new year.
Here are the steps to cultivating a new attitude, supportive beliefs that can shape your life: First you need to recognize constricting or limiting beliefs. These are the beliefs that create body tension or collapses. So we will uncover the beliefs that are actually held inside our body. Remember a belief is not just a mental phenomena. It lives within our physical body, involves our emotions and spiritual energy! When we find our beliefs from this wholistic perspective, it is quite grounding, liberating and profound! Find a physical tension or place of collapse in your body or an emotional feeling like anger, sadness etc that is present for you. Feel it. Draw it, yea just get out some crayons and create an image that matches to some degree the sensations you feel in your body. Now write down some words that describe what you see physically in your image like red, tight, stuck, frozen etc. Then write down one or two words that somehow capture the emotion you sense is present like frustration. Great, two down now two to go. Let's jump to the spiritual or energetic level now. Write words down that capture what you sense is happening here energetically (on the level of our life force, our spirit, our prana or chi)--words could be even similar to the physical words you wrote before like stuck, frozen etc. Remember the quantum reality that we all are--we are energy and matter in a constant back and forth dance. Wow! You have already put a large amount of this puzzle together in that you have unearthed 3 of the 4 levels so far--the physical, emotional and spiritual. Notice how all three are related in some way to each other, they inform each other. Let's now discover the belief in your body and mind! Informed by what you've already learned from these 3 levels ask inside, what is my belief here? What conclusions, judgments, beliefs live here about myself and my world? One that came up for me this morning and it happens to be one of my core limiting beliefs that I work with is that I'm not enough, I haven't done enough or I haven't done it good enough or right. The one I hold about the world is that the world wants more from me and the world will reject what I do offer. I know, when we get to our core limiting beliefs it doesn't look pretty! So, feel into the truth of your body and within this mirror reflection of your physical/emotional/spiritual truths that live within your image and ask what beliefs about self and the world are held here. Let it percolate, allow the belief to bubble up from the foundations of what you have already explored and felt within the physical, emotional and spiritual levels. Once a belief has emerged, try it on. Does it fit with your tension or collapse, with the emotional tone or spiritual energy? The litmus test for the truth of your belief is that if your body tensions or collapses increase. Yes, a congruent limiting belief will often intensify our discomfort or touch a place of sadness. I know our constricting and limiting beliefs are not going to sound or feel good or helpful. They aren't. Yet they are an old construct developed by the mind around a constricting scar, that surrounds an emotional wound. Let the healing begin! Now let's do some scar tissue release and wound healing as we turn the belief upside down, a bit of a headstand for the belief. You have two ways of finding a new healing belief that feels believableand can truly give you a new mind-body attitude! 1. The body approach--here's how to find the belief directly from your body. Since our beliefs are stances we take, try on the stance of your limiting belief. For instance in my case as I try on "I'm not enough, I'm not doing enough", I let my body hunch over, my heart heavy and collapsed and my belly distended (this posturing also magnifies the original shoulder tension I was working with). As I try on a posture that feels like its polarity or opposite, my chest lifts, my shoulders open up, my belly muscles feel more toned. So go ahead and try this! First your limiting stance and then the polarity. From this new stance, this new body attitude, ask your body for the words that express a new mental attitude. Fish for the one that feels true to your body's stance! Repeat this new belief (if you'd like with your new posture) for at least 30 seconds and experience an embodied cognition that supports your well-being! 2. The mind approach--this is a pretty direct approach that doesn't have to involve movement. Just ask your body and spirit, for a believable belief that is the healing opposite to the one you discovered held in your body-mind. For me, it was "I am enough and I'm doing enough and its good enough!" Here's your new attitude to take with you through the day! As you try on the mantra of your new attitude, check to see if your body feels better with this belief! Notice a mood change. Feel your spirit lighter, your body more at ease and your emotional buoyancy. This is a key support for creating health and healing for your your body, mind and life. May we all be happy in this new year!