How many of you remember this from SNL? We used to joke about this incessantly – it certainly echoed what people felt about doing affirmations – utterly ridiculous– laughable & completely ineffective – obviously.
And of course, I thought this too. Yet, as I come across people I consider teachers on my spiritual path, I have discovered something very powerful. I like to think of it as “Feel Into It” (FIT).
This FIT applies to any practice (Gratitude, Loving-kindness, Affirmations) as well as achieving goals, building confidence, identifying feelings/needs, and strengthening our intuition/inner wisdom.
What do I Mean by “Feel Into It”? It’s All in the Body!
Let’s take the Gratitude Practice, for example:
When you write down your 5 gratitudes at the end of the day, instead of just listing them, try pausing at each one, and really Feel Into what it actually felt like at the time. Let’s say I had shared a sweet moment with my daughter that was warm, close, and loving. I can call up that memory – relive it – and bring up the way it felt in that moment, and notice what I feel in my body as I reflect. It could be that my heart area feels warm or expansive, or I feel an alive energy in my core, or a calm and easing of tension in my shoulders. Then I can sit with that feeling and let it expand inside me as I breathe into it.
What’s the Benefit Being Fully Present?
When we call the active feelings up into our bodies, it actually comes alive again inside our bodies. And we receive the beneficial effects from that earlier moment – It can trigger the release of dopamine and oxytocin which has a calming and feel good affect (we feel that sense of peace or contentment or love).
So you get a double-dose – the time when the event occurred and then recreating it again as you also layer on the feelings of gratitude for it.
Perhaps you have heard that our brain is like velcro to negative events: doing this counteracts that wiring. It is a way to increase our attention and focus on “positive” events that feel good in our bodies. It strengthens those pathways in the brain.
Most importantly, as you get more proficient at this, you can call this up to help change your state if you are feeling anxious or scared or sad. So doing this allows you to mindfully choose where to direct your attention and shift your energy.
The key is feeling it inside the body – making it come alive again.
If this speaks to you or sparks your curiosity, I’m happy to talk more in-depth about it with you. Feel free to give me a call at 503.224.6559 to schedule an initial counseling session at my NW Portland office.