Are You Living From The Neck Up?
We live in a fast-paced society where intellect, logic and having the ‘right’ answer at the ready are typically highly valued. Being busy is a badge of honor and the harder we work (often at the expense of our mental and physical health) the more we are rewarded and admired by others. Along with this comes a lot of “I’ll be happy when...I get those shoes/loose 10 pounds/have more money/have a baby/etc.” Once we achieve said goal, our minds are already onto the next thing we want. When we live in our minds, our happiness and wholeness are just out of reach – always. The mind wallows in the past or creates anxiety about the future, causing us to skip out on what’s happening in the here and now.
How can we stop this vicious cycle? By bringing the rest of ourselves “from the neck down” (aka our body) back into the picture and integrating mind and body. We need an awareness of both to function optimally. Let’s make room for sensing, feeling, intuition and present moment being. This is not about villainizing the mind, but rather pointing out that when it runs the show it leads to imbalanced living. Here are a few tips on integrating mind and body.
Slow Your Roll
The nature of the mind is to constantly have thought flowing through it. It is active, busy, and often has the attention span of a toddler - which is how we act when we let our mind be in the driver’s seat! Let’s try focusing on our body below the neck and notice how our state of being shifts. The nature of the body is to be present, always. It is pumping our blood, breathing our lungs, digesting our food, and fighting germs 24/7, all without us having to think about it. Our body just IS. When we slow down our mind, our body follows suit and vice-versa. This is the beautiful symbiotic relationship between the mind and body in action.
Using our Senses
Utilizing our five senses is a powerful way to bring presence and mindfulness to every moment. We can only gather sensory data when we focus in the here and now, not in the past of future. One exercise that is very grounding and will instantly bring you back to the present moment is the “5-4-3-2-1” trick – pause, notice and name (either out loud or in your mind) 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things you can touch (and actually touch them), 2 things you can smell (essential oil works great here) and 1 thing you can taste (if you’re not eating, pop in a hard candy or breath mint).
Ask the Question
When we are wound up in our mental loop of stressful thinking one of the simplest and most powerful questions we can ask is “what do I need right now?”- not in an hour, not in 2 weeks, right now. We need to slow down to get an answer, and it is often remarkably simple– I need to breathe, I need to go outside, I need a hug, I need a snack. Our body speaks to us if we will only listen. Our mind will often convince us that we need that job or money or person right now, but if we pause and inquire, we find out that all we need in the moment is relatively simple and often life changing.