Thursday, September 8, 2016

Finding Clarity!

I remember a day when a client I was working with, a client with severe addiction and trauma issues, said she was ready to find clarity in her life.  That's really the goal isn't it?  She was seeking to clear out the patterns of addiction, of thinking that supported her criminal behavior, of severe anxiety due to trauma....She wanted all of it gone and instead be full of clear space to create a new life for herself - a life without addiction, where she felt safe and worthwhile and capable.  That is what we are all seeking - the clearing of patterns in thinking and behavior and the space for new, more supportive, more successful patterns to be formed, isn't it?

This process is, unfortunately, complicated and it takes time, but here are 6 ways to get started.  You have to start somewhere and create a base - a space in which awareness and self-respect are the foundation.

1)  Breathe:  The breath is physically limited to the space in the lungs - and the route it takes to get into the lungs and back out from the lungs.  For the sake of this exercise, however, imagine that your breath has access to all the space in your body - down to your toes, to the tips of your fingers and to the top of your head.  The breath is a cool breeze coming in as you inhale to all the spaces in your body and then as you exhale, imagine it taking out with it anything you need to release - tension, stress, discomfort, tiredness.  Make the breath big enough that it can get to all the spaces in your body.

2)  Meditate:   It is said that the Buddha practiced the Blue Sky Mind meditation.  It is a favorite meditation practice for many in the world.  Here is a very short 4 minute version of the meditation to get you started:  It includes the breathing technique described above.  Once you get the hang of it, practice it on your own without guidance.

3)  Relaxation:   Usually, we use a physical focus for relaxation.  It can also work to use your mind to help your body relax through visualization.  We can go in either direction - bottom up to relax the body and mind OR - top down to relax the body by using the mind. Knowing that we can do either or both, brings awareness to the fact that mind/body communication goes in both directions. You need to be aware of both!  This exercise uses the visual of a lake or ocean and takes the flowing motion of the water toward stillness, bringing the mind and body to a still space.  So beautifully relaxing!

4)  Cognitive Behavior Therapy:  Complaining of foggy thinking is really common.  There are a lot of causes to feeling a general feeling of fog in the brain - from diet, to sleep, to hormone imbalances, and more.  We can not think our way out of those imbalances, so experiment with changes to your diet, change your sleep habits and pay attention to good sleep hygiene, get hormone levels and Vitamin D checked by a blood test, and/or talk more with your doctor about other possible causes.  In the meantime, this unconventional cognitive/behavioral technique can help: Stand up, breath full, quick inhales and jump in place or do some jumping jacks.  Or, take yourself up and down a couple of flights of stairs.  This will increase the hormones that help us focus, at least temporarily.  Another great technique is to schedule time for exercise in the day before the foggy time of your day kicks in.

5) Power Pose:  Twists are a great clearing tool.  Think of yourself as a dish rag, twisting and wringing out all that needs to be released!  Feel the body massaging into and stimulating spaces and organs that do the work of clearing - the digestive system, the adrenals, the kidneys, liver and the immune system.  Any twist you feel drawn to can work.  Here is Half Lord of the Fishes:
Or, practice a twist right in your chair at your desk: 

6) Chant:  This chant is meant to connect to the brow chakra - to a deeper wisdom, free and clear from the busy conversations in the mind.  Say the vowel sound "oooooo" as in the word two.  Make the note somewhat high - this D note is a good one to use or go higher.

Put your practice into place regularly and you'll soon feel that clearing within.  Then, you have room for those new patterns of thought and behavior.

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