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"Wake up! Wake up! You are going unconscious!"

In his last novel Island, Aldous Huxley described a Pacific island where an ideal society had flourished over 120yrs.  The goal of this advanced society was to free each person rather than to enslave them.  On this island of Pala there were specially trained mynah birds – whose function was to screech “Here and now! Here and now!” at random times throughout the day.

myna birds

Myna Birds “here and now, here and now”

Unconscious Thinking

Unconscious thinking is described by Eckhart Tolle as the tendency of our psychological mind to reside in thinking about the past and/or worrying about the future.  In his book The Power of Now he brilliantly describes unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are all caused by too much future, and not enough presence.  Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.

I will admit that I fell victim to too much future thinking during covid lockdown.  Consumed by fears for my new business, the disruption to my children’s education and the knock-on effect on their future, the future UK economy, massive debt etc.  The result of this was that my sleep was disrupted, and I lost my usual passion for running and yoga.  Instead, I discovered a new passion for chocolate (!) whilst I watched the news and scrolling through endless social media posts trying to make sense of the world.  (The two media guaranteed to feed your fears and hold you in future thinking).

One morning on waking my first feeling was that I wanted to burst into tears.  This rang an alarm bell for me as I would say I usually default toward an optimistic outlook.  I had stopped doing the things that kept me moving (running and yoga) and my brain was stuck in future worries.

Emotional Stress

Within the chiropractic premise we understand that our body becomes subluxated and posturally distorted due to one of three stresses: physical, chemical and emotional stress.  My emotional stress was determining my inactivity and directing my food choices.  This can be a negative spiral that can be difficult to escape.  When we are stuck emotionally or physically, we need to move; to change our internal physiology.  My mantra became “Move your body, still your mind”.

I had to unstick my unconsciously negative future thinking.  First step to change is becoming conscious of what you are habitually doing.  Noticing when your mind has wondered into psychological future or past thinking (anxiety or depression) and gently reminding yourself to come back to the present.

Instead of the incessant pull of my phone into the dark abyss of twitter and Facebook I have returned to reading and listening to audiobooks.   Re-gaining control of where my mind was wandering has landed me in a much better place and I barely flinched at the announcement of lockdown 3.0

Action Plan:

Like having your own mynah bird randomly reminding you “Here and now! Here and now!”.  Catch yourself when you are dwelling in psychological time and remind yourself to come back.

  • Be aware of when your mind has wandered.  When you notice if you are in past or future thinking STOP and take a deep inhale and slowly exhale.  Notice the space between the top of your inhale before you exhale; then at the end of your exhale before you inhale.  In that space is present time.
  • If you are sitting at your desk adopt the Brugger position (described below) as you practice this breathing exercise. You can do the same standing.
  • This process may need to be repeated many times a day. Don’t become frustrated about it.  Eventually you may be able to laugh at yourself when you notice how often your mind wanders.
  • That moment between breaths that you experience in present time consciousness becomes longer with practice.
  • Present time consciousness is a space for healing, creative thinking and bliss.

 

Brugger Position:

This is the reverse of sitting slumped at a laptop. Turn your feet out, your knees and hips open, rest the back of your hands on your knees, palms facing up, lift your chest and chin and breathe as described above.  See photo of my daughter demonstrating in the photo below :)

Books:

Eckhart Tolle (1999) – The Power of Now,  A.Huxley (1962) Island, A.Huxley (1992) The Divine Within

 

With love, Clare

Brugger position demonstration

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