We live in world filled with research from Neuroscientists proving that our brains are the cause of everything that arises within us. We are told to think differently if we want to feel differently. More and more we are given snippets of studies demonstrating that our thoughts are the cause of everything we do, say and feel. But have we really got the whole picture?
Neuroscientists neglect the scientific fact that the heart actually sends 3 times more mood altering signals to the brain than the brain does to the heart. And that the Vagas nerve, which is located at the core of the stomach, sends 9 times the mood altering signals to the brain that the brain does to the body. Scientists have now realised that more than 60% of the heart is composed of neurons with the same structure as those in our brains. We have also discovered that the Vagas nerve is largely comprised of these neurons as well. Does this suggest that both our hearts and our stomachs actually have the capacity for intelligence similar to our brains?
With this in mind, the research is starting to suggest that although there is much use in changing our thinking to improve the way we feel, we could get better results if we worked more on our bodies than our thoughts.
You can’t think away most feelings!
To make such a statement suggests that in fact our brains are not in complete control of our experience and unfortunately this is often true.
Unfortunately what most of us try to do is to think our way out of feeling what we don’t want to feel, such as sadness, anxiety and anger, and by trying to figure out the cause of the feeling, or how to fix the feeling, the person loses contact with the feeling momentarily, only to have the experience re emerge later, and then the cycle of thinking kicks in and the cycle continues. Many people who try to fix their emotions like this find themselves waking in the night with that very same feeling back to haunt them for hours on end before getting back to sleep.
I see this approach to attending to our experience a little like trying to wash one’s car by watering their plants. No matter how much watering one does, the car still remains the same.
Similarly with situations where we want to change the feelings of sadness or anxiety and others, rather than moving our awareness away from the feelings and to our thinking, what ultimately transforms our felt experience is moving our awareness towards and into the feelings.
For example, when we are sad, rather than thinking through how to be happy, sit with and fully experience the sadness. Allow the feelings to pour through your being without judgement or resistance. It can often be easier than you think, and by doing this the sadness shifts and changes and the body’s innate wisdom of the sadness (the what’s and the why’s of the sadness) are realised like flashes of recognition giving rise to new ways of being with sadness. And we often realise truths about our sadness that all the thinking in the world wouldn’t achieve. When one sits with their experience without trying to change it a very strange thing occurs. The experience actually changes. In Gestalt therapy we call this the paradoxical theory of change. The paradox being that when we accept what is and allow what is and fully be what is within us, change occurs.
So next time you feel blue, angry, anxious or lonely try this out. Remember, allowing the feeling is the key to transforming the experience.