Many people admit they don’t like change. Why? Because it often feels difficult and uncomfortable, they say. Change feels the hardest in the beginning when you start to think and act differently. It's a jolt to the routine of the body and mind that has repeated thoughts and behaviors until they've become aspects of the personality. This doesn't make them healthy. It just means they are familiar. And the unconscious personality holds on for dear life to the "familiar," even at the expense of positive change.
Part of the art of well-being is to unhook from over-the-top security when it leads you toward an outcome that doesn't support your dreams, goals, and desires. If you taught yourself to play tennis, the swing you adopted might have enabled you to compete initially, but it may restrict your ability to excel beyond your current skill level. Learning a new stroke from a tennis pro may feel awkward at first (being unfamiliar to body-mind), yet it will likely be the form you need in order to move to your next level of competence.
Moving to the next level requires changing your perspective...consciously. One practical way of doing this is by watching video recordings of yourself as many athletes do. Seeing yourself from another vantage point has obvious benefits. As an onlooker, you can easily see areas for improvements, and that visual stays with you to keep in mind for future scenarios.
The same principle holds true for upgrading your “emotional form.” Imagine moving your awareness up several feet to observe your trends from a higher view. On a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being your ideal, how would you rate your emotional health? You could consider possible perspectives from friends, family, or co-workers. How might they rate you? Unless we're self-aware, we often trick ourselves into believing that our familiar thoughts are actually good ones. I had a client who rated her emotional status between a 7 & 8; yet, most of her responses to life, at work and at home, leaned toward being critical, judgmental and polarizing to people around her.
It was the breakdown in significant relationships that brought her my way for individualized sessions. Her initial perception was that she was emotionally healthy even though her relationships were faltering and her thinking was chronically critical. Committing to seeing things from a higher perspective allowed her to see where improvements could be made to strengthen her emotional and mental health, which, in turn, would help strengthen her relationships.
The first step to adopting new emotional "form," that, by the way, also improves physical well-being, is noticing what is rigidly familiar—and not in a good way. Another word for this is stagnation. What consistent thoughts lead you to feelings and behaviors that work against you? In other words, what do you persistently say to yourself that isn't compassionate or kind? This is a crucial observation because you can’t change what you can’t see. Looking from outside of yourself helps you see more clearly. Progressive change happens with greater ease when you can shift your awareness, create space for being objective and be boldly honest about the things that are getting in the way of living the greatest version of yourself.
Being nimble with your point of consciousness is a skill that can be learned like any other. And until you understand the benefits, you're not likely to spend time engaging exercises that are perceived as a waste of your time. A discussion of the benefits one gains from practicing the exercises below could fill a few chapters; however, for the sake of brevity here, I'll summarize with keywords: flexibility, agility, spaciousness, and conscious presence.
These are fundamental movements for creating well-being just as basketball players must learn to dribble with control and pass effectively while running. Athletes committed to excelling in a sport need to identify each skill and give them their attention before they are able to integrate all the movements as one seamless action. The following exercises are building blocks to experiencing well-being as a cohesive flow of life.
Practical Exercise - Hover & Rediscover Yourself
(Part I) Practice putting your conscious attention at the top of your head. Notice what you feel. Maybe that area of focus gets warmer or starts to tingle. Next, raise your focus above your head a few inches, then a few feet, and then as high as you wish. Take a little time to note your experience at each point. What did you see, or feel, or sense?
(Part II) Put your attention on an emotion that doesn't feel good. Just be with it without making it wrong or trying to change it. Then, pull your attention back as if you're zooming out from it. Doing so gives space to the feeling, which leads to easing the pain of it. Notice what it feels like to simply observe it with neutrality.
Next, respond with compassion for the stressful emotion. Notice what happens to the pain when you’re present with compassion rather than avoiding, judging, stuffing, or denying what is felt. Stay in the zone of compassion for at least 30 seconds. Then, when you're ready, zoom your attention back into your body, entering into your heart.
Both parts 1 and 2 can be done in as little as 5 minutes. And, all the better if you can gift yourself with 15 or more minutes to relax, soften, and be present to your life with compassion and ease.
May we attune to the Infinite One we are in perfect unity, now and always.
Much Love ~ Korrine
Print of the art & poetry above is available here.