This weekend, I was feeling a little disconnected, stressed, and tense. My shoulders were inching up around my ears and clearly holding some kind of emotion. I knew it was time to walk my talk, so I mind-body coached myself.
This experience reminded me that I haven’t written much about what I call mind-body maintenance. Once you’ve released your mind-body pain syndrome and have created health, you enter the mind-body maintenance phase. This phase is where you learn about forgetting and remembering. I myself have forgotten the mind-body tools at least a million times in the ten years I’ve been using them. As soon as I realize I’ve forgotten, I remember them. There they are, like trusty old friends, waiting for me.
Many of my clients have had small panic attacks during the maintenance phase, because after months or years of pain-free living, a symptom pops up. It is usually quite mild, but most people immediately imagine they will be diving back into dealing with their pain syndrome daily.
Here is where living the mind-body way becomes really worthwhile. Instead of fearing a symptom appearance, you get to experience a newfound confidence in your ability to create health. The truth is, you know what to do when a symptom shows up.
Here’s the deal: whatever your symptom may be – burning in the hoo-ha region, bladder irritability, a couple extra pounds, a bout of IBS gas that requires you to blame the dog – it is only here to remind you to remember what you’ve forgotten.
Should a symptom, new or familiar, appear, it’s time to take a close look at the last month and see where you have forgotten to connect to your body, feel your emotions, and use your mind-body basics.
Your mind might try to make this complicated. It might tell you a million different reasons why you’re experiencing this episode. Here are a few examples:
“Well, I probably need a major surgery or some other procedure.”
“This pain in my back just HAS to be from that time I stubbed my toe in 1983. Why else would it be here? There’s really no other explanation.”
“I am just doomed to gain weight – it must be genetics. Or maybe I was abducted by aliens and they injected me with a fat-causing serum. It can’t possibly be that I overate! I’m sure I ate just fine all month.”
“My bladder must be upset because I drank/ate [insert your choice of food or drink here]. Oh no! Oh no!”
“What is wrong with me! Why does this happen! What do I do! I have no idea what to do! Oh my God! AAAAAGGHHHHH!”
Your individual mind, of course, will tailor its freak-out to your personal situation. The trick here is to realize your mind is LOST. It doesn’t know what to do, and it is in search-for-the-reason mode BECAUSE you are disconnected from your body and emotions. It cannot help you in this moment unless you stop and remember your mind-body basics.
1) Stop whatever you’re doing, breathe, and pay attention to your body. Scan your body from your feet to your head, and really check in. Where do you notice tension? Be IN your body, instead of thinking about your body/analyzing/looking for solutions.
2) Breathe. Take five minutes to just breathe.
3) Ask yourself the question, “What am I feeling now?” Then allow yourself to feel that emotion.
That is the simplest, most basic form of the mind-body tools. You can do this in a short ten minutes. Keep it up daily for a week and you’ll realize that your symptom is just here to remind you of what you forgot. Breathe. Feel. Breathe. Feel. Every day. Take time to notice your body. See what it really wants. Any time you have been ignoring it, you’ll likely discover some pent-up emotion, some requests for rest or a slower pace (or other change in your habits), and then a return to peace and health. The symptom will disappear quickly – within days, hours, and even minutes.
Eventually, as you learn how to manage yourself in the maintenance phase, you’ll find that your nemesis symptoms only arise when you’ve really gotten off track, and even then, they are quite mild. For the most part, you’ll spend your days pain-free, because you’ll be paying attention to your body and noticing any tension before it turns into actual pain, or any upsurge in food intake before it turns into ten pounds.
Wish you knew even more about how to manage yourself in the maintenance phase? Not to worry – a whole slew of material on this is in the works!
Everyone forgets. We all disconnect. The goal is not to do the mind-body process perfectly, day in and day out. It’s simply to notice when you’ve forgotten and then pick up the tools and use them. Not perfectly. Not for three hours. Ten little minutes. That’s all. Remember that you do know how to do this. Now it’s time to do it.