I haven’t written in several days. I figure it’s because of the general holiday madness that seems to zap every spare moment I have. But also due to my sporadic funk caused by emotions and memories that come rushing in at me during the holidays, like a rising tide that splashes me when I’m not paying attention, just a little at a time.
Just the other day I was reminded of events that brought back some not-so-great memories and feelings. A piece of mail was all it took to break this particular dam of unsettled emotions. I found myself reliving hurt and anger over past events from many years ago. Until I caught myself and became aware of what was happening.
I’ve been much more zen (as my niece puts it) and more at ease with everything and everyone this past year, so I’m a little disappointed with myself when I let this happen. My logical self knows better than to replay and get riled up over events that are over and done with. And move forward. Because, as I always say, life is short … right?
Fortunately I was able to catch myself and become aware of what I was allowing to happen. At that point I remembered an interview I heard on the radio in my car just an hour or so before. It was an interview with Deepak Chopra about his new book that he wrote with Rudolph E. Tanzi, an expert on the causes of Alzheimer’s. It’s called Super Brain, Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness and Spiritual Well Being. (I just bought it for myself as an early Christmas present to read on my Ipad.)
In the interview Chopra discussed how, in contrast to the “baseline brain” that fulfills the tasks of everyday life, the brain can be taught, through a person’s increased self-awareness and conscious intention, to reach far beyond its present limitations. He explained how we don’t have to expect to react to situations in the same ways we always have (the interview was relating this to holiday stressors like family visits). Because, as he explained, nothing can inevitably make us feel a certain way. We often decide how to react based on our brain’s “autodrive” which has been programmed with patterns and expectations.
The book discusses how we can easily reshape and reprogram our brain to better awareness, health and well-being. How a better mind-body connection, combined with a lifestyle for a healthy brain, can actually diminish effects of aging and memory loss, anxiety and even obesity and more. Their work debunks several myths about how we understand the brain and aging, explaining how we can actually increase brain cells as we age, rewire our brain to stay young, and prevent memory loss. I still need to read the book, but connecting feelings with memories seems to be a common thread of their discussions.
Chopra explained a particularly memorable technique called STOP to use when faced with any challenge or unwelcome feeling:
S – Stop what you are doing
T- Take a deep breath
O- Observe what is happening in your body
P – Proceed with kindness, joy and love.
And this is what I will continue to try to practice — which is also the basis of what therapists, philosophers and yogis have been trying to teach us for years. To step back — become more present and aware — and proceed with the manual setting fully switched to the ‘on’ position.
What feelings have you become more aware of – and in better control of – over the years?
I’m grateful for these reminders and insights, and the ability to further take charge of my fate. Thanks for reading…