A common predicament I see with clients is the tendency they have to be overtaken by their busy minds. The mental chatter. The mental chatter is that voice in the head that is worrying about some future scenario that hasn’t happened yet or that is regurgitating some past event or issue over and over again. The voice in the head never stops. These clients aren’t ‘crazy’. No, they are just like you and I. We all are consumed by our mental chatter and this noise is what causes us to get stressed, anxious or sick.
“Almost every thought you think is then concerned with past or future, and your sense of self depends on the past for your identity and on the future for its fulfillment.” Eckhart Tolle
For a while now a large part of my focus of the mind-body impact on health has centred largely on emotions. And while I still think they have an enormous impact on our health, I’m beginning to appreciate, for want of a better word, the significance of our mental chatter with regard to our health and wellbeing. I’m getting a clearer understanding that our emotions are just our body’s response to thoughts and so I should be placing more attention on this voice in the head.
What you think about and how you interpret what happens to you influences your feelings and emotions. We will feel an emotion, in response to a situation or event, due to how it has been filtered by the mind, and interpreted as either good or bad, and the perceived impact it will have on us.
Our body can’t tell the difference between an actual situation and a thought. When you worry about some work deadline or large bill that needs paying when your bank account is low, your body will respond to this as if you are in danger even though you might be, at that moment, sitting safely and comfortably at home.
“The truth is that stress doesn’t come from your boss, your kids, your spouse, traffic jams, health challenges, or other circumstances. It comes from your thoughts about these circumstances.” Andrew J. Bernstein
So I’m finding myself taking a slightly different tact when working with clients. I continue to help them find and release emotions that are within the body, but more importantly, I’m helping them identify those thoughts that are generating the emotions, or reinforcing old ones.
A couple of techniques that I have found to be helpful, both for myself and my clients, are:
- Becoming aware and observing, with interest and no judgement, just how often the mind likes to go over and over a perceived problem or situation.
- Finding moments of presence, of being in the now through simple things like abdominal breathing and sitting still focusing on sounds in the distance.
- Reading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.(This is one of those books that people either love or don’t get, so it is not for everyone.)