In this article, I share a simple technique to help you ground into your body and out of the chaos brewing in your mind.
Understanding How You Feel
The purpose of today’s article is to learn how to survive a thought storm by grounding into your body. But first, let’s understand what a thought storm is and the best way to do that is to understand the power of worry. If you’re not a big worrier then switch that word out for stress or anxiety, whatever hits home for you the most.
I chose worry as an example because we can all relate to that feeling. On some level, in some are, even before quarantine each of us had little bits of worry and/or stress in our lives. It’s normal, we’re human and to an extent, it could even be healthy to consider the dangers of the world. But lately, it feels extremely heightened, like no matter where you turn something scary is there and you’ve always got to be prepared for it. There are a few problems with living in a constant state of worry, like your body living in a stressful state rather than visiting one, and the lack of positivity you’ll attract since you’re literally never on the lookout for it.
But what I’d argue is the most significant problem of all of the energy you feed the negative emotional state. The more we worry the more there is to worry about, and the more we’ll find evidence that we should continue to worry. Such a vicious cycle of straining the mind and the body without ever truly offering relief. And as a result, feeling like we’re constantly swept up in a storm without any control over where we’ll land.
If you don’t understand how your inner world works, both body and mind, then you’re never going to feel like you’re in control.
The truth is we don’t ever really control what happens outside of us but we do have control over how we respond. The difference between response vs reaction is a pause, a moment of consideration before allowing emotions to get the best of us, but more importantly recognizing that we have the ability to respond. In fact, as humans floating around this world filled with so many stimuli pushing and pulling us in different directions, it’s our job to respond (responsibility-ability to respond… get it?)
Now that you’ve been reminded of your ability to respond to what’s going on around you, let’s get familiar with what’s going on within you.
Let’s Talk Momentum
Worry and stress and anxiety and tension, these all have momentum on their side. Momentum is energy that is generated from within and pushes you toward an outcome or circumstance. Each time you experience one of those sensations or emotional states you’re essentially feeding the energy that propels that momentum. This could be a healthy cycle or a detrimental one, it all depends on what emotional states you’re constantly calling on.
If you’re reading this article chances are the emotional state of worry on your mind and body is quite familiar. So when you start to worry you’re going to be late for work one day, remember it’s not the first time you’ve experienced worry, and because it’s an experienced emotional state it has A LOT of momentum power behind it.
You’re no longer ONLY carrying the feeling of being late to work. Now that you’ve begun to summon the emotional state of “worry”, all of the stored energy from your history with worry starts to usher in a powerful momentum to keep this state going. So even if you make it to work on time there’s a chance you’ll remain worried all day, finding more reasons to feed that energy.
That’s how powerful momentum can be.
When you experience an emotion you also feel a physical sensation in your body. The mind holds memories of stories while the body holds memories of feelings. Each time you call to mind an experience the body relives that feeling as if it’s happening right now. The problem is you’re so focused on the narrative, the story of the memory playing in the mind, that you neglect how it’s showing up in the body and trick yourself into trying to “think” your way out. Unfortunately, some negative narratives have been played for so long that they have too much momentum behind them, making it nearly impossible to think your way out of them.
The mind and body connection is an extraordinary tool of communication, but too often it’s working against you because you’re unaware of its power. Let’s change that today.
Become Aware of Your State
If you’re in a negatively charged emotional state the first step is to become aware that you’re in that current state. It sounds simple, and honestly, it is, but when you’re stuck in “thinking” about things it can get complicated.
Awareness starts with observation, not a judgment of how you’re feeling or wishes that you could feel. Wanting to wish away a negative emotion isn’t the way to create change because it’s not coming from a place of acceptance. First, notice what’s coming up for you in the form of thoughts and physical sensations and practice being okay with it at that moment. Start there and start over and over if you have to, which you probably will have to.
If you haven’t practiced disciplining your thoughts or mindset, not something you’re good at yet. It’s okay to wave the white flag and admit that you’ve experienced this negative emotional state for so long that it’s got a strong momentum. Maybe you’re really good at being worried, stressed, tense, or anxious. That’s where you are right now and that’s okay. Be there to create change there. Running from discomfort makes it impossible to allow your momentum to be transformed into an energy that works for you rather than against you.
You can’t win the battle in your mind because you’re not familiar with how to discipline your thoughts. So what can you do? Notice how it’s showing up inside your body.
See you spend so much time in the mind creating stories, talking to yourself, and thinking about the past or the future, that your first instinct is to “think” your way out of a problem.
But what about when thinking IS the problem?
What about the stronghold those thoughts have on you that creates a storm in your mind that sweeps you away in an instant?
What’s the solution when you’re fighting a battle in your mind you’ve lost time and time again?
The solution is to ground in to your body.
Try This Practice Today
It takes time to shift from getting caught up in a thought storm to learning how to ground into the body. What’s important to remember when incorporating a new healthy habit is that it’s only possible with consistent practice and repetition. The next time you find yourself being pulled back by the momentum of a stressful or heavy pattern of thinking, remember you have the option to make a different choice.
Once you become aware that you’re caught up in the same old way of thinking, pause. Notice the direction this pattern takes you toward and remind yourself you have the power to make a better decision. You can always shift your focus from your mind to your body.
✨Try this practice: Choose 5 things to pay attention to that are happening within or around your body. Starting by focusing on the physical sensations you’re experiencing will be the most powerful because it’s taking you out of your mind and into your body. Grounding isn’t an instant shift from chaos to peace, it starts with simple observations, open curiosity, and gradually calming the mind down.
✨ Ask yourself “what are 5 things I notice about my body right now?” As you begin to observe whatever is happening within you stay away from labels like good or bad. Learn to treat yourself like a science experiment and get specifically clear and unbias about your answer.
✨Imagine that your opinion about what is happening doesn’t matter, all that matters are the symptoms, sensations, and experiences that are unfolding within you. Remember that your memories are emotionally charged so it’s important to notice when they begin to creep into your explanations. For instance, a simple shift from “my chest hurts” to “I feel tight sensations in my chest” or “I can’t breathe” to “my breath is very shallow” could make all the difference in how you process this moment.
✨Some emotional states are more charged than others, which have the potential to spiral you quicker into feeling lost in the storm. Grounding into your body, and noticing what you’re feeling and the world around you invites the chance for the storm clouds to begin to clear.
✨It’s also an act of self-love to remember and tends to the body while there is chaos brewing inside the mind because the body is simply reacting to the mind’s direction. The body can be directed to a calm more centered space, much quicker than changing your negative thought to a positive one. As a result, the mind will slowly find its way to a place of clarity, so you can move yourself toward solution-based thinking rather than an irrational problem-focused perspective.
Start Where You Are
Whatever emotion you’re feeling, whatever thoughts are circulating through your mind, whatever sensations are pulsating through your body, you can start this practice today. Surviving a thought storm isn’t about conquering the chatter of the mind, it’s about recognizing how powerful that momentum of energy has become and seeking shelter by noticing the impact it has on the body.
The more you practice observing your thought storms and the power of their current, the more likely you will be to pull yourself out of mental distractions and into physical sensations. The more you tune into the body the stronger your awareness becomes and continues to expand, this is what will help you eventually discipline or even break those thought patterns.
The more you practice anything the better you’ll get and the more capacity you’ll have to handle even more. So before you jump into wanting to change your negative thinking into positive thinking, start by noticing the quality of your thoughts today and it’ll lead you to the physical state of your body. It’s fascinating to watch how intelligent the mind-body connection truly is, now imagine you were part of that conversation?
You can be! All you have to do is open your eyes to what’s already happening, moment to moment, with acceptance and patience.
Start where you are, with how you’re feeling, and watch the subtle changes unfold.