We live in a constant state of activation. We’re always thinking, looking, searching, our minds perpetually on. It’s a vestigial thought-pattern held over from eons ago, a survival mechanism to keep us safe from impalement by mammoth-tusk. And nowadays, this adaptive neurotechnology gets triggered by social media and other tech, our power switch jammed on 24/7.
All the subsequent cascading still occurs — stress hormones, increased heart rate, fight or flight, etc. — even though the email from a mildly catty boss does not equate to the aforementioned fangs of yore. In short, we don’t need it anymore.
Here’s a critical distinction: We have to think about how to extract the nectar from the tree fruit. We have to intellectualize how we might get honey from the bees. But when some tiny part of the brain notices a glinting yellow sabertooth en route, we don’t have to think at all.
No, then something else kicks in. The body. Our instincts, you might call them, which live in the body, residing in every cell. Serves us well when we have to “de-ass” the area to save our life and limb.
But millennia have passed since we’ve been hunter-gatherers. Still, clever engineers and marketers — with hundreds of billions of R&D dollars behind them — continue to capitalize on this mind/body dialectic. But this adaptive technology no longer necessarily serves us. Instead, unresolved and unexplored sensations in the body cause anxiety in the brain. And physical manifestations arise out of unprocessed thoughts. Chronic pain. Muscle tension. Depression. Maybe even cancer.
So what’s the answer? Consider reconnecting body and mind. To bridge the dissociative gap to the extent we can. To expand awareness of our consciousness beyond our mind and into our body. To live in the now.
To expand our awareness of our consciousness beyond our mind and into our body. Our body is conscious. It’s living in the moment. It gets cold. It gets hungry. It gets aroused. It knows things we don’t intellectually know (say, when our stomach flutters, our heart sinks, our sphincter tightens near-instantaneously in reaction to some stimulus. Importantly, before our “conscious” [brain-based] awareness).
Yet how seldom are we “in touch” with the causes — not to mention the effects — of those ambient stimuli? How we feel and what we know about people and things, places and experiences, but in the body—not in the intellect. “I don’t know, I got a bad feeling,” we might say, but we seldom explore it.
Simultaneously, our thoughts are disconnected from our bodies, at least ostensibly. In his book Letting Go, David R. Hawkins claims that thoughts are the byproduct of body-based sensations. “Repressed and suppressed feelings require counter-energy to keep them submerged. It takes energy to hold down our feelings.”
In this manner, those unresolved feelings build up, blocking natural energy- and other pathways. Clustering in joints and muscles, causing pain. Yes, if we have a bad back or migraines or heart palpitations, there is certainly a physiological process occuring. But a physical process entirely associated with psychospiritual conditions. Hate. Unforgiveness. Trauma. Insecurity. All of that lives in the body as well as the mind.
The cure to this modern problem might be simple, but it’s not easy. We must feel — not think about — our feelings. Meditatively “observe” the physical sensations they cause. Tension in the shoulders. Dryness of the mouth. Girding of the loins.
Give our feelings space, embrace them, and we give ourselves space to move on healthily.
At the same time, we can fully realize that what arises in the mind affects the body. The two are not separate entities. Think long and hard enough about your sweetheart and something happens in the body. Think long and hard enough about eating a bug and something happens in the body. So remember, think long and hard enough about how worthless you are, how much your life sucks — or, alternatively, how you’ve got this, how you’re blessed — and the body will follow.
Ideally, let’s make as many experiences shared between body and mind. These “flow-states” are states-of-being in which we are neither burdened by excessive thinking nor feeling. Rather, mind and body are connected into one one sentient, sensing being.
Like when you’re listening to the right kind of music, or walking, or working out. Try focus@will today, and tune into the now.