You don’t have a single feeling, thought, or behavior that is not processed at some point by both your body and your mind. Emotions generate a force like a physical event. You just may not be as aware of their impact in the same way you feel pain when you touch something too hot or too cold.
Every emotion has a corresponding "felt sense" in the body-mind. When you feel anger you get ready for action by tensing your jaw and limbs. As fear strikes you tighten your stomach, chest and throat. When joy or pleasure arises, you can breathe and move freely and expansively.
The sensations present in your body-mind are responses of your nervous system to contact (with others and with your self). Often your body’s response to emotion is subtle.
You may notice impulses such as a slight change in your breathing rate and/or depth, or your chest, neck and shoulders may get a bit tighter, or your hands and feet feel cold or hot. All these sensations are your body-mind and nervous system communicating the vocabulary of your feelings. Attention to these body language impulses will help you secure your sense of Self in the present moment and determine the kind of support you need right now.
Your rational mind can limit your ability to find self-support. Thoughts can easily get in the way of skillful behavior or the best intentions. In times of crisis, some people find it tough to think clearly when feeling anxious and the body is tense or braced. For others, rational thought can be a way to grasp control of overwhelming feelings and deny they even exist.
For general emotional disharmony, and especially for persistent conflicts, your mind only gives you half the story of how to deal with your emotions. You need to listen to your body for full disclosure.
With only your mind for guidance your thoughts may become repetitive and self-defeating. Your mind is full of thoughts, beliefs, and fixed ideas, heavily shaped by experience. With no feed-back from your body, emotional choices sometimes deteriorate into distorted and obsessive ways of living and believing. Your thoughts may revolve like an inner spiral, perpetuating any issue or emotion you dwell upon. The mental associations you make may lead you to believe you aren’t handsome or smart enough, or to pass superficial judgments upon people before you give them a chance to show you their honest selves.This can leave you even more trapped by your thoughts, and by the influence of others.
For instance, you might think you should behave a certain way or adopt a certain attitude. But if you listen to your body you’ll often discover that this isn’t really what feels best for you. Remember a time when you stressed-out because you thought you should go out of your way to do something special. Yet later it only left you feeling empty and resentful, maybe even with a stomach ache or tight shoulders.
Copyright ©2011 by Boundary in a Box®, LLC