Now more than ever we need to ascertain what we choose to entertain in our minds. Being unaware of your mental conditions can trap you in a habit of forming stress which is physiologically, psychologically and energetically damaging. The introductory techniques of breathing, meditation and mindfulness help to look within and start to clear the clutter in your mind, the release of stress by the power of your intention of compassion will feel so freeing and liberating it will connect you with a whole new way of being and interacting with yourself. When we think of going for a movie, catching up with friends over drinks or getting a massage as a way of de-stressing, they help up relax temporality by providing a distraction from the root cause of the feeling. The next time you are in a state of angst, take a moment to examine your thoughts and determine how much are you contributing to this stress response by the way you think?
Stress is formed by a repeated negative thought pattern, often preoccupied with worries of the future or regrets from the past that depletes our energy. We all carry a negative bias, this means we put a greater emphasis on thoughts that elicit a negative emotion rather than a positive emotion. Ever wondered why it is so easy for you to remember the time you were insulted by your partner but completely forget the countless compliments the same person showered on you? Negative bias stipulates that our brains our wired to focus more on negative incidences, we assign a mental weighting on negative incidences almost 7 times on the negative compared to neutral or positive interactions. Evolutionarily the more emphasis on negative events would act as a protection mechanism to avoid a physical danger. However now the responses are emotional and the affect this has is to build up stress causing a physical response of hypertension, muscle spasms and increased adrenaline.
Going further, what if the stimuli was internal and not external? Our thoughts are comprised of images and sounds, the thoughts that we entertain cause the same physical response to an external stimulus. You may see a disturbing scene on TV and jump in your seat or feel your heart race or hold your breath, even though you are not living it your body reacts as if it were, there is no distinction between reality and fiction from the physical response level; the body believes it is true. And if you replay that scene in your mind your body will react each time you watch it mentally without the presence of the external stimulus. We hold on to negative, abusive and judgmental thoughts especially when it is directed to us, this starts to become our inner chatter that skews our sense of reality heightening the negative bias towards ourselves. How often do you criticize yourself? Constantly judging your appearance, abilities and achievements only fuels a sense of insecurity and fires up the brain’s fear center. The lack of stability makes us more vulnerable to stress which leads to a vicious cycle of self-sabotage of criticism and not feeling good enough. If this is not appropriately managed depression and panic attacks ensue from the self-sabotaging thought patterns as every action is exaggerated in a negative light.
According to Shauna Shapiro an international mindfulness expert, the mind wonders 47% of the time. Mindfulness trains us to bring our focus back to the present and on the positive. A study showed that people who practice yoga learn how to manage distractions and stress without an emotional or physical response. The emphasis is on kind attention, being compassionate when the mind wonders and to simply bring our attention back rather than being judgmental with ourselves for drifting off. This helps to start a virtuous cycle of thinking, driving positive thought patterns and releasing stress. The importance of mindfulness is to watch our thoughts and gently choose to hold on to positive thoughts, the virtuous cycle starts when we keep affirm the same positive thought patterns, soon negative beliefs that aren’t attended to just fade away and we can transform our thought patterning into positive habit formation.
The way we think about ourselves can cause emotional responses that make us feel a certain way, the relationship we have with ourselves is integral to health. If we have harmful thoughts that builds emotional toxicity which ultimately results in physical pain, when we are loving to ourselves we are emotionally content and that allows our physical health to thrive. It is very important to carefully choose how we relate to ourselves as our thoughts and mental attitudes determine our physical and emotional state. Dr Masaru Emoto’s experiment in 1990 showed that water molecules respond to emotion of love and hate, the crystalline structures from love are symmetrical tight structures while the formations from hatred produced disjointed and fragmented structures. The state of emotions affects a simple compound of water, what would it do to our bodies that is made up of approximately 60% water?
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