Halloween was one holiday I shunned as I was growing up. Trick or treating for candy was its only redemption. Because I found daily living scary enough, I did not enjoy seeing witches, skeletons, bats, dismemberment, zombies, blood and death. Hearing haunting noises exemplified the frightening, horrifying thoughts that were swirling in my head. Having my fears validated by the Halloween reminders accentuated my unease in life.
Today Halloween does not elicit these same responses. Although I still have disturbing thoughts, they no longer have the same power over me. Just last evening, I was having a quiet meal alone and thoughts continually bombarded me. It was as if I was helpless to defend myself. What kind of thoughts you may ask. Well, they ranged from you aren't capable of living a healthy life to life is too hard and it doesn't make sense anymore.
At any age when you have scary thoughts, what options do you have?
To start, acknowledge that you are not your thoughts. When you are aware of your thoughts, you are the observer and your thoughts are the subject of your observation. Mickey Singer, author of the Surrender Experiment, explores the voice that continually talks inside our heads. He found himself asking the question: who am I who keeps noticing all this mental activity? Who am I who can just watch thoughts come up with a complete sense of detachment?
One of the times I heard the voice clearly was when I quit smoking. For years, I had tried many different ways to stop. One strategy was not to buy any cigarettes. Yet I found myself picking up butts off the ground and lighting up. Success came when I challenged the voice that said I would go crazy if I didn't get to smoke. Staying in tune with the voice offered me insights into why I was smoking. Smoking offered me a sense of control and fed my self-pity patterns.
Meditation and Meditative Movements are great ways to become more aware of your voice. When you understand that the voice, sometimes referred to as your subconscious, has more power than your conscious intentions to change a behavior, you value exercising your personal power. You gain a new perspective and freedom that is heartfelt. More importantly, you release feelings of inadequacy and guilt.
Meditation is a practice of quieting the mind and freeing yourself from its hold on you. You can read my Explore Meditation Practices blog to learn more about specific practices.
Meditative Movements is a new practice that uses mindfulness, affirmations and movement. It is another way to listen to your thoughts; although it offers a way to go deeper into your body messages. Many people find it difficult to sit on a cushion; hence, they find pleasure in moving their body while focusing on the affirmations and breathe.
Research shows that we have approximately 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day. Wow! It is important to realize that they just show up. They have always been there. It is our awareness of them that changes everything. Here is the big news. You are not able to control them. However, you are able to direct your attention.
Mickey Singer states, "I now had two driving forces awaken inside regarding this newly found voice in my head. One was the desire to shut it up and the other was the pure fascination and yearning to understand what that voice was and where it came from."
To go back to my smoking example, had I believed the voice that told me I would go crazy, I would have had that cigarette. By being in the present moment and confronting that message, I experienced my power of choice. My addiction to cigarettes was physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. After I quit smoking I started gaining weight. This is when I acknowledged my need to retrain my mind and my body. If we do not deal with the original causes of our behavior, our scary thoughts, I believe we go from one addiction to another. For me, it would have been smoking to overeating.
Creating Meditative Movements allowed me to honor my entire being. My body got the feel-good hormones flowing and gave me a natural high. Then adding the positive messages catapulted my experience. It also provided a safe place for me to be with my more challenging emotions like anger and fear. Finally, I was taking time to be with those scary thoughts and emotions so I did not smoke or eat mindlessly.
Here is how one follower uses the movements. "I did not feel good came from me. I was fearful of other's anger. Doing the "I Feel Safe Meditative Movement" allowed me to be in the presence of other's anger - enabling me to work with angry outbursts of homeless people. When I felt I couldn't possibly do more training as an advocate, I did the "I Can Meditative Movement." Often before going into the advocacy room, I would do the "I Can" Meditative Movement followed by the "I Release Meditative Movement." Doing these movements relaxed me. The "I Choose Meditative Movement" allows me to own my actions and my thoughts."
In my 30+ years of creating personal changes in my life, I have heard the voice many times. It seems to get loudest when change is imminent. There are many alternative health modalities that can help us achieve health and happiness. What I have found is my need to know myself. This takes time and effort. It involves removing distractions and a willingness to be more alive. Many practices can awaken you from the conditioning of your past.Like the witch, you can ride through life being your true self. The scary thoughts may come and go...you now know what to do with them.
No tricks involved. Lots of treats because you can now live your life the way you want.
Here I am with my grandchildren, Aggie Lou and Leo.