By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD
“Ever wonder what crime you committed that you are confined to a small enclosure above your sinuses, under permanent skull arrest?”
– Robert Brault
People often live so much in their heads that they lose sight of other perspectives and experiences in life. They ruminate about personal struggles, losing all perspective of their importance – or lack of importance – in the scheme of their lives and the world. They forget that knowing something is nothing like experiencing it – just ask someone who has read about snow but only just experienced the delicious sensation of a single snowflake melting on their tongue. And they come to believe that thinking about life is the same as living it.
I don’t have to ask if you can relate to any of this because, honestly, we all can, at least sometimes. So, it can be extremely helpful to regularly ground yourself in the reality of your mind-body self:
Observe when your thinking becomes tortuously circular. If you cannot stop thinking about a problem, repeatedly turning the same struggles and faulty solutions over in your mind – it’s time to STOP and redirect your mind and body. Refocus on the present. Engaging mindfully in some physical activity can help. Repeat this redirection as many times as necessary to get yourself on a new path.
Check in regularly with your body. Pay attention and appreciate your sense of taste when dining. Absorb the beauty of the world around you through your eyes and ears. Feel the warmth or cold of the air on your skin. Focus on all of your body’s sensations as a way to live more fully.
Make movement a regular part of every day. By exercising your body, you keep it and your mind more nimble (yes, your brain also benefits).
Exercise your imagination every day. By letting your mind create freely, you are escaping the confines of your rote and entrenched thinking. It allows you to be free to explore new thoughts and experiences, helping you to feel a greater sense of vitality.
Of course, no matter what you do, to some extent you will be under “skull arrest.” After all, that’s where your brain is located. But by unchaining your thoughts and staying in touch with your body, you can take regular holidays – enjoying a chance to savor in your body’s senses and to be awed by the limitless travels of your imagination.
The Art of Relationships blog posts are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.