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Your Energy Barometer: Make the Mind-Body Connection Work
By Gabriella Kortsch
Ever wake up in the morning feeling blah? Ever wake up wanting to pull the covers back up and stay there until tomorrow? Even when you have spent the major portion of your life living in what many would consider one tropical paradise after another, as I have, there are still mornings a person can wake up and ask: "Is this all there is?" Or: "How can I face this day ahead of me?" Or: "What? Another shabby day in Paradise?"
Right. Been there. Done that. We all know the feeling. So what's the point?
It's in Your Hands
The point is that the capacity to change this feeling on a day-by-day basis is literally in your hands, and what's more, once you start, and once you see what a difference you can make to how you feel during the rest of the day, you begin to realize the immense power inside of you to determine the state of your being.
Although this article is not about energy psychology in the strictest sense of the word, I will be using a concept borrowed from it. SUD's or Subjective Units of Distress is a term coined to describe the subjective assessment of an individual's current state of being. So when you first wake up and feel blah, ask yourself, on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the lowest, or worst, and 10 the best, or highest, where your state of being lies. In other words, what is the reading on your energy barometer? How do you know? Simply answer with the number that immediately comes up. In other words, let your subconscious answer, rather than your conscious mind, and that means allowing the number that you immediately think of to be the answer. So let's assume that number is four. Just keep that on the back burner for a moment.
Taking Stock of Your Body
So the first thing you can do, after you have taken the subjective assessment, is to take stock of your body. Ask yourself where in your body you feel anything that may be causing distress or disharmony. I am not referring to physical pain, but to those things that are the body's language to let us know that something is not in perfect running order in our world. For example, do you have butterflies in your stomach (solar plexus, adrenal glands, third chakra)? Or is your solar plexus tight and hard with tension? Are you slightly nauseous? Perhaps you have a lump in your throat (thyroid gland, fifth chakra), have a sore throat, are suffering from chronic laryngitis, or must clear your throat frequently before you speak. Perhaps your heart (thymus gland, fourth chakra) hurts, or feels constricted and tight...I mean a real, physically felt pain or constriction, which happens to some people when their feelings have been harshly trampled on. Or perhaps your breathing (lungs, fourth chakra) is shallow, or fast, or restricted because of some felt nervousness, tension, or fear. All of this should only take a few seconds.
Take Stock of Your Emotional State
Next, take stock of your feelings. Has something been making you feel sad, worried, angry, jealous, heart-broken, frustrated, or anything else that you might classify negatively? Again, this should only take a few seconds.
Take Stock of Your Negative Self-Talk
Next, quickly scan your mind for negative self-talk that has been going on lately. What are you telling yourself that might somehow be influencing the body and emotional conditions you have just looked at? Note that I am not asking you to do anything about any of these states, I merely ask that you take note. And once again, this should only take a few seconds.
Okay, so now you know that on a scale of 1-10 you feel you are at 4, and you know where your body, your emotions, and your mind are at, at least right now, on this particular morning, another shabby day, as we said earlier, in paradise.
So what do you do to quickly raise that number in order to feel better? I don't mean raise it to a whopping 10 right here and now, but to raise it enough for you to feel the difference, so that in future you will feel powerful rather than impotent when it comes to how you feel when you first wake up.
- You know the value of physical exercise, right? I'm not referring to its merits from the weight-loss point of view, but because exercise increases the flow of serotonin to the brain (mood neurotransmitters that increase flexibility and happiness), and raises the levels of endorphins (the body's natural opiates). In other words, exercise makes you feel better. I know, I know - it's hard to exercise before work. So how about doing a 20-minute routine that you learn from a DVD but then follow along on your own after a while without the DVD? (I'll tell you the importance of doing it on your own in a minute). Have to get up a bit earlier to do it? Give it a try...it might just be the most valuable 20 minutes you have during your whole day, among other things, because it will help to positively set your day for you.
- So why do I want you to be able to follow an exercise routine of some kind without the DVD? (Or do a power walk, or go swimming, or cycling, etc.) I need you to be able to concentrate on something else. And that something else could be an open-eyed meditation (be in the "now" as you exercise, enjoying all your sensations, enjoying your surroundings, going with the flow, and allowing whatever wants to come up). Some people find their most creative moments take place in these open-eyed meditations. Or, you could start a gratitude journal. Do it in your head, because it's kind of hard to write while you are swimming, or stretching, right? Simply think of five different things every day for which you are grateful. Perhaps the fact that the sky is so blue. Or because you have gorgeous eyes. Or because a butterfly just flew across your path. Or because you smell the freshness of a spring morning, a baby's pure scent, or freshly baked bread. Realize how many wonderful things there are in your life for which you can feel grateful, and take stock of them every morning, five at a time.
- OK, so you can't do the physical exercise in the morning. It just doesn't fit into your life. Do it later, but what can you do in the morning? Do the gratitude journal anyway. On paper. Do it conscientiously. Happiness researchers at Harvard, Cornell, Stanford, and other prestigious institutions have demonstrated that this exercise alone does more to raise people's level of happiness than anything else, including wealth and success.
- What else? Something easy that can take place in the hectic mornings of our hectic society. From today on, make a point of collecting "feel good" music. By this I mean such music that actually brings you joy (sometimes even tears of joy) when you listen to it. Nothing nostalgic, please. You don't want to be remembering when your last love discarded you for a shinier up-date. And this "feel good" music should be so good that you can literally feel how it raises your energy barometer. It might be a Greek Aria by Yanni, or Porcelain by Moby, or Bach's Ave Maria, or Glorianna by Vangelis, or La Do a by the Gypsy Kings, or anything at all. Only you can know which songs speak to you. So once you have these songs, even if it is only a few, burn them on a CD, and listen to them in the mornings as you get ready to leave the house if you need to raise your energy.
- Certain passages in books, quotations you may have collected over time, some poetry, essays by a favorite author, all or any of these are also important to have on hand in an easily accessible place for you to look at, even if only for 5 minutes, in this early morning process of raising your energy barometer.
- There are numerous other techniques. But these should get you going.
Now assuming you have done at least some of the things I have suggested herein, measure your SUD's again. Remember - don't think about it. It's not meant to be a logical answer based on statistics. It is meant to come from inside of you instinctively (read the article I wrote in my May 2006 Newsletter about the second and third brains that neuroscientists have discovered in our gut and heart, if you think your instinct is of no importance). What number are you at now? Perhaps a 5.5 or a 6? Not a huge change, but nevertheless, a change. And YOU DID IT. Just by changing some of what you do and how you do it. Realize that it was not necessary to remain at the lower energetic level you were at. It was possible to make a better day for yourself.
Next, I would ask that you run that scan over yourself again - your body, your emotions, your mind. What has changed? Perhaps the tight knot in your solar plexus has eased, perhaps the messages you send yourself now contain more positive than self-sabotaging thoughts, or perhaps you are breathing with greater freedom. Again. YOU DID IT.
So if you have been able to increase your feeling of well-being from 4 to 5.5 or 6 on a scale of 1-10, does that not imply you can do it on a greater scale if you try? Does it not imply that it is up to you whether or not you are going to have a good day? Does it not imply that when you wake up feeling blah, it is in your hands to do something about it? Does it not imply that you are not impotent in the face of however it is you feel? And therefore, does it not imply that the power is in your own hands, and not out there somewhere? So what are you waiting for? Go and grab some of that power for yourself from inside of you, and make a difference in your life, and by the ripple effect, in the lives of others.