I had the privilege of sitting down with some incredibly gifted people for the Women’s Vitality Summit. Every speaker understood the importance of a holistic approach to reclaiming, reigniting, and rediscovering one’s vitality, but the past few blog posts I have decided to focus on one aspect of the holistic sphere so we can better understand each of the parts. This post will center on our vital mind: what role does our mind play in our vitality?
We can look at your brain under a microscope and map out its complexities, but in order to understand what’s happening in our minds, we require intersubjective communication. In other words, to learn more about what’s happening at both a conscious and unconscious level, relationships are absolutely essential. The latest research in neuroscience tells us that our brains are processing massive amounts of information non-consciously. There’s a lot there, and some of it includes “shadowy material” getting processed out of our awareness. I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Keith Witt who had a lot to say about the interplay between conscious and unconscious thoughts in relationships: “An awful lot of psychotherapy is catching people in defensive states and helping them regulate those states with a healthy response. With couples, it’s helping them discover how they unconsciously go into those defensive patterns, having them observe the bad habits that are there and then show better habits.” Shadow work is about shining a light on the far reaches of our unconscious without casting any judgment. The very act of observing a thought pattern moves it from the unconscious realm, which we have no control over, into your awareness. If the current behavior no longer serves you or your partner, you can now work to consciously change it!
The act of making space for this awareness can be done in a couple’s therapy session, or simply sitting on a meditation cushion for 10-15 minutes in the morning. The moment I mention the idea of meditation to some clients I can see their stress levels start to increase: “I can’t meditate, my mind is way too busy!” I sat down with summit speaker Ajayan Borys to dispel some common myths about meditation, the first being that in order to meditate, the only way to do it right is “without thought.” As Ajayan puts it: “Thoughts are a part of the meditation. There is not a single human being on this earth who sits there and meditates in a thoughtless space. When you start to meditate, that is analogous to diving beneath the ocean surface, dipping into the silent depths of the mind. And as soon as you do that, you experience inner-silence.”
The most powerful thing you can do is to release the story that you cannot meditate. For example, if you perceive something as dangerous or harmful, your endocrine system fires off a different cocktail of neurotransmitters than if you perceive something as loving and compassionate. The message to your body comes directly from the brain. So during meditation, the idea is to simply observe the thoughts that arise without assigning judgment to them. In the absence of judgment, your body fully relaxes, your stress level decreases, and you start to commune with your higher Self.
If you remember, I offered a Progressive Relaxation and Autogenic Training Program during the summit. For those of you who haven’t tried them yet, here they are again: Use the booklet for instructions.
Here’s to your health!