We’ve all used phrases such as “that made my blood boil,” or “it made me sick to my stomach,” or even the super stressful, “I felt like the top of my head was going to blow off!”
Each of these colorful sayings refers to a different area or function of our anatomy, but they all represent the effects of emotions on the body. Granted there are many of us—me included—who tend to dwell in our heads, focusing the majority of our attention on our thoughts and feelings. It’s almost as if we are blissfully unaware that we’re attached to anything south of our necks unless something goes wrong. (One friend of mine playfully described her body as “the last frontier.”) But now that my body is growing older, I’m actually becoming more connected to this amazing organism… and in a good way.
Yes, I disparage it from time to time… especially in reaction to the obvious southern slide caused by the years of gravity’s pull. However, in addition to the signs of age, I’m becoming acutely aware of how my thoughts and feelings reflect back to me in how I feel physically. For instance, when I run my “woe is me” tapes, I can start to sense my throat tighten and my energy drop. When I get agitated or annoyed, I can feel my breathing grow shallow and my heart rate accelerate.
As a result, I’m actually learning to check-in with my body and, if it’s under stress, change my thought patterns. It doesn’t always work and it’s no easy feat to master, but I invite you to try a technique that seems to provide some real relief. If you notice that you’re focusing your mind on thoughts that are causing your body distress, simply repeat the word, “cancel” a few times and deliberately change your attention. Perhaps you can work on a small project, go outside for a walk, or listen to music that either calms or energizes you.
By simply saying, “cancel,” you signal your mind to stop its ruminations without beating yourself up for obsessing on unhappy thoughts. It eliminates the “why do I always do this to myself?” question while accomplishing what you want to happen. Then—as you would with an obstreperous two-year-old—simply distract yourself.
We all realize that life is more precious as we age, and I’m finding that I’m choosing to live my days in a happier, less stressful state than when I was younger. In other words, I’m mellowing. And, when I don’t feel mellow, my body reacts. It’s great to be feisty but it’s also time to explore your own “last frontier.” Learn to listen to your body and learn “the art of cancelling” as needed!