According to scientists, we think about 80,000 thoughts a day, and 80% of those are negative thoughts. 200 of those thoughts are related to food decisions. YIKES. My friend Kris calls it the ‘stinking thinking.’ We don’t choose the thoughts that enter our minds; they are triggered by what our five senses pick up around us. We basically have a conversation with ourselves all day long and when we slow down and listen, a huge part of that self talk is very critical and defeating.
So what can we do about it? As a Holistic Life Coach and Yogi, I am on a quest to find more ways to change this pattern and to get out of this spinning tornado in our heads. When the thoughts start to race on about the future, we find ourselves anxious; when the thoughts get stuck about events from the past, we feel depressed. The point of power is always in the present moment. When we bring our attention to the here and now, we are able to witness our thoughts. With this awareness, we are able to choose what thoughts we bring attention to, we are able to stop the spinning monkey mind in its tracks and give it a banana, AKA a positive thought called positive affirmation.
That requires lots of awareness. When the mind is racing, it is fairly challenging to slow it down. This is where movement really helps. We often hear people say that they are going for a walk/run/exercise to ‘clear their head.’ Every thought we think either contracts or expand us. Lots of critical or fearful thoughts cause agitation and tension in the body so moving our body allows that tension to be released, and we can more easily quiet the mind and focus on positive aspects.
So the first step is to get out of the head into the body, and to become present. I just LOVE Pure Barre for that. We become present by taking 100% of our attention to one of our senses. You can try that out right now as you read this. Take a moment and sit back, relax your body, and start to focus on all the sounds you can hear. Bring all of your attention there. Breathe and stay here for a minute. Close your eyes…..
Did you feel it? In Pure Barre, we have an opportunity to focus on the body part we are working, all the sensations we can feel in the body. It is a choice we can make. I have had classes where I did not choose to be present, and thought about ‘my problems’ the entire time. So it is up to us and what we make of it. But for the most part, the exercise requires so much of our attention that we can’t really drift off in LaLa land. It is the perfect vacation for the head.
So here is an awesome fact: when we are fully present during class and really focus all of our attention on the muscle that is working while breathing in a relaxed way, we are fully present for an entire hour, clearing our head, renewing our spirit, getting a break from problems, and coming back with a fresh perspective. And not only that, by focusing on the present moment like this, we also get the best results physically. Arnold Schwarzenegger would say: BE the muscle! That’s how you get results. So it is a win-win.
The mind never stops, we can find space between thoughts, or witness our thoughts, yet we cannot stop the mind from going around and around like a monkey swinging from tree to tree. This is where the banana comes in; a positive affirmation. Here are some of my favorite affirmations during class:
I CAN DO THIS.
I CAN DO ANYTHING FOR ONE MINUTE.
I LOVE MY BODY.
RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE, ALL IS WELL.
IT FEELS INCREDIBLE TO MOVE MY BODY.
So I invite you to go to Pure Barre as soon as you can, close your eyes, and focus on the movement, really immerse yourself in the moment. Come up with your own little inner cheer, an affirmation or mantra that helps you to stay present and positive. You can always return to your problems after class. Or perhaps the solutions come to you when you get out of your head into your body for a while. After class, I often like to sit still somewhere and enjoy the clarity and inner peace.