Probably you have heard many times the words “I got stuck in my head”. If you are a human and you are not the enlightened master of meditation yet, it is likely you are familiar with this state. The common signs of this phenomena are:
– constant stream of thoughts,
– fear from plans for the future,
– contradictions between thoughts and feelings,
– physical and emotional stress.
In short, we would describe all this spectrum of psychological problems in one sentence – something is preventing me from enjoying my life here and now.
Why It Happens
What really makes a mess in our system is excessive processing of the past and planning for the future. Speaking the scientific language, we have a strong habit to activate the part in the frontal lobes of the brain which is responsible for working memory. It helps to solve problems, make conclusions, plan, learn from experience and tell stories. Some memories or big plans may activate the amygdala – the brain’s fear and survival-based memory center. If the amygdala sounds the alarm, as if we are in danger, the brainstem reacts instinctively. Heart rate increases, we stop breathing, muscles tense to prepare for action or collapse. We either speed up or shut down. And guess what most people do in this case? They address to the working memory center again to solve the problem and find the rational explanation why it happens to them. But the problem is that working memory has no direct connection to the amygdala and any effect on instinctive body responses. That is why most people cannot release from this endless circle and have to take medicines or invent some other strategies to escape suffering. But the split between the mind and body can be healed or, at least, significantly reduced.
What To Do To Live In Harmony
When the amygdala turns off the alarm, the brainstem gets quiet and the body relaxes. We can finally live in peace and joy. So if the memories or overthinking of the future disturbs the amygdala, the antidote for this reaction would be living in the present moment. But to say or think is easier than to come to this state and really experience it. We recommend getting help from the “noticing brain”, which is placed in the frontal lobe sections and responsible for awareness of thoughts, emotions, sensation, and movement. It observes with curiosity instead of judgment. Because of its direct connection to the amygdala, activation of the “noticing brain” calms down the body and restores a somatic sense of safety.
In practice, activation of the “noticing brain” requires patience and training. Nowadays more and more people get interested in different kinds of meditations and mindfulness techniques to tame the restless mind and improve the quality of their life. In this article, we would like to introduce you to our simplest and very effective tools which we apply in our work and help clients to enter blissful moments of “here and now”.
1. Do Not Judge Your Thoughts
We do not need to know all the reasons and answers to the question Why to feel better. Sometimes it is not even possible or does not make sense. We would recommend developing self-compassion. Even if you cannot stop thinking, at least, try not to judge yourself for this.
2. Wake Up Your Senses
The best first aid which you can get is to smell some natural fragrance oils, listen to the sounds of nature, feel something warm and nice on your skin.
3. Slow Down
Our body has a way slower rhythm than our brilliant mind. It takes some time to turn off the amygdala´s alarm and feel the joy from the present moment. Most people need many hours of relaxing practices just to have a taste of this experience. Our habits make us come back to the old patterns and stressful life and we need to repeat and re-learn how to relax over and over again.
4. Just Notice Your Body Sensations
Meditators often use concentration on the breath. A somatic psychotherapist would suggest focusing on the movements and changes of your body sensations. In our sessions, the main tool is a big variety of pleasurable, sensual touches. You do not have to do much work, because our therapists initiate it and direct all your attention to your body. The mental activity does not seem to be so overwhelming after some time. It is like being consumed by an interesting movie or play which consists of sensuous experiences instead of pictures.
5. Get support from the presence of another person
Maybe you have already had situations when advice or recommendations from your relatives or friends irritate rather than help to calm down. No wonder, because it comes again from the past experience, rational thinking or tendency to change something. It is not about being present. The best solution is to get help from the person who knows how to accept you as you are right now without the desire to fix something. He or she can hold the space for whatever comes.
All those methods have been proven to be helpful even when people were going through hard times. Many clients say after the session of massage or another somatic activity that they feel lighter, calm, joyful, balanced, rejuvenated. And there is no need to discuss problems or try to find logical solutions. It comes naturally and without forcing only by connecting to our body wisdom.