My Brain and I
By Eva Angvert Harren
I wake up! And my brain woke up before me . . . again!
Every morning it seems as though “it” beats me to the time of awakening. And every morning it has some startling message to bring: your husband’s going to die, your daughters don’t love you, nobody loves you, you have cancer, your business is failing, you’re failing, and on and on it goes.
This morning as I found myself awake, my brain was already preparing for the day by forecasting the disasters waiting to manifest themselves.
I dropped into my body and felt the familiar grip in my chest and a slight discomfort in my stomach; I had a lump in my throat and a little heightened difficulty breathing. There was a tightness all over, as if I were wearing a scuba suit, and someone had grabbed the back and twisted it. Every part of my skin felt too tight.
In my world, if I don’t watch it, these sensations trigger the emotion of fear, a sense of doom, including an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, as in: “Here it is again!”
These sensations and emotions, in a nanosecond, send the message to my brain to “watch out,” “get ready,” “find protection,” “something bad is about to happen,” and at the bottom of it all, “I’m going to die!” Or, even worse, “my husband or daughters are going to die.”
A hundred forms of fear float around inside me, and depending on yesterday’s events, or hopes and fears projected for tomorrow, my brain will find the appropriate, rational, and possible thought and meaning to attach to the body sensations . . . and off I go!
Consequently, without body awareness, I would fall into the loop of “what’s wrong today?” and start preparing for imaginary disasters. I would be stuck in the infinite loop of thought and emotion, thought and emotion, my Doom Loop, with no way out.
I might have had the wherewithal to try the “replace it with a positive” method, and fight it with a positive thought such as, “No, my husband will live today,” or “I will be okay.” In that way, I could try to take control from a hopeful place of possibilities.
However, I would quickly run out of gas and be pulled into the familiar land of anxiety and panic. At that moment, it would feel like a surprise – un-expected again – and hold me hostage for hours, with another day’s gauntlet of worries mixed with manic behaviors and small children.
Despite the scenario I just described, I want you to know that there is hope!
With some practice, I have succeeded in creating a distance between my brain and me. I have created a gap big enough to give me a break from the loop, and so can you.
This gap in time is long enough to help me realize that my brain has grabbed onto a thought – just that, a thought.
This practice was part of my coaching training years ago. At that time, I didn’t know what was “wrong with me”. I just felt crazy. My thoughts were my reality, and my reality was scary.
I would sit for 20 minutes every morning and do nothing! Just watch my thoughts. That was the first time in my life I experienced a space between me and my thoughts and could get a glimpse of how it would feel to have peace of mind and body, to sense the freedom of choice.
Here is where I found the beginning of understanding the difference between reacting and responding.
Our brain has a bundle of thoughts, realistic, rational, or not – it doesn’t matter. The brain is interpreting and collecting a plethora of thoughts!
As the saying goes, “You are not responsible for your first thought. However, you are responsible for dwelling on it.”
Without that helpful gap, I do not remember that these are just thoughts and fall into the gutter of collective negativity. This gutter, and the hundred forms of fears it is hosting, becomes my reality, and my world is – again – a scary place. “My family will die!” “I suck!” “I can’t do anything right.” “See, there, I did it again . . . screwed up . . . again!” And on and on and on.
But, with the gap, there is a way out!
This morning, for example, I had body-awareness and that gap between my brain and me. What freedom!
I felt it all starting up! I noticed the loop taking form like clouds in the sky forming to block the positive rays of the sun.
However, I used the “Stop. Drop. Check.” method and dropped right into my body. Once I was there, I asked, “What am I feeling in my body?” The familiar sensations that used to create fear started to emerge, but within another exhale of surrender, and allowing space for the sensations to be there, I saw them subside and dissolve. What freedom!
This practice is like watching an old, once-upon-a-time, fierce bull, now old and tired, trying to plug into his once raging fighting spirit and start a fight. But . . . realizing he is old and tired, and sick of fighting (here is the gap), he slowly lies down to rest. The effort just isn’t worth it anymore.
The gap helps me to remember: It isn’t worth it anymore, that energy I used to waste in the inner landscape of fear!
Then, and only then, can I experience the wonderful feeling of true connectedness to my body. My brain and body have formed an alliance again, and I have the clarity, confidence, and courage to be . . . Me!
Remember . . . Freedom Is Only A Breath Away!
If you want to know more about Stop. Drop. Check. and the BEAM LiFE process, and how it can help you choose your story, visit www.EvaAngvert.com