7. PUT WORDS TO YOUR FEELINGS Naming feelings stimulates activity in the prefrontal cortex and lowers activity in the amygdala alarm circuit.
8. USE POSITIVE MEMORIES TO INFUSE THE NEGATIVE When something painful is in awareness, bring to mind a positive memory or feelings. You will gradually infuse the negative experience with positive associations when the memory goes back into storage. My husband had a bike accident recently (he is healing with no permanent damage). However the image of him after the accident was quite traumatic and I was experiencing very powerful sensations in my chest and abdomen. I brought up the memory of him and thought of a beautiful lake in Wyoming where we love to hike. I also surrounded myself with all of the people whom I love. Visualizing the lake, remembering how infilling it is to hike there and recalling everyone I love and who love me significantly reduced the impact of seeing him in such a painful state.
9. BE MINDFUL Mindfulness has been defined as “the nonjudgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment.” To practice being mindful, pay attention to where your attention is (what is around you, sounds you hear, flowers blooming, children laughing, awareness of your feet on the ground, body sensations, emotions you are experiencing, etc). Mindfulness increases the relative activation of the left pre-frontal cortex which helps control and reduce negative emotions.
10. NOTICE YOU ARE ALL RIGHT RIGHT NOW This does not mean pretending that everything is perfect;however most of the time at this moment we are breathing, our heart is working and we are relatively safe. Even if you are having difficulty, become aware of the core of your being where everything is OK, has always been OK and will always be OK no matter what experience you are having.
12. PRACTICE GRATITUDE When I think of Gratitude, what comes to mind is the image of monks bowing very slowly as they demonstrate deep appreciation with their heart, mind and body. These monks don’t give a quick nod to what they are grateful for but give sustained time and thoughtful attention to focusing and holding their prayer of thankfulness. Practicing Gratitude does not mean ignoring painful circumstances but rather noticing and enjoying the good things that life brings.
Two poems which expresses the beauty of gratitude to me are:
I never will have time
I never will have time enough To say How beautiful it is
The way the moon
Floats in the air As easily
And lightly as a bird
Although she is a world Made all of stone.
I never will have time enough
The way the stars
Hang glittering in the dark
Of steepest heaven
Their dewy sparks
Their brimming drops of light
So fresh so clear
That when you look at them
It quenches thirst.”
Looking at the Sky” by Anne Porter
Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning,
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety-
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light-
good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.
“Why I Wake Early” by Mary Oliver
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