The Push of a Button…
Just for a moment, think about your day. What were your first thoughts as you awakened from sleep? How did your thoughts, feelings and moods serve you as your day unfolded? Recall the many activities and circumstances that led you to this site, to this moment.
Every day is a 24-hour journey though time and space. While the mind is awake it will encounter thousands of influences, each facilitating a response. The mind can be a busy place to live, filled with ups and downs and turnarounds.
TV shows are mini journeys that fill our conscious thoughts with illusions, distracting us from our real lives. Images and sounds projected from a screen stimulate our senses, as we laugh or cry, feel anger or suspense. TV can be wonderful. We hold the power in our hands to choose the illusions that play on the screen before our eyes. The remote control offers us the power to change our experience with the push of a button.
My good friend Dr J., in his musings on the Will to Heal site, writes about an idea that opens and empowers the mind to a healthier way of experiencing life. Learning to become mindful of your thoughts can be very liberating. It’s like having a mental remote control.
Think about the many dramas or comedies you experienced today. Each had a beginning and an end as a continuous flow of information influenced your reactions and your thoughts. While watching TV your remote control offers you the freedom to change your experience. In real life mindfulness provides you the awareness to change your experience, by shifting your thoughts, from one perception to another. With practice, shifting your thoughts becomes as easy as changing channels.
The Will to Heal Technique teaches that the chemical messengers produced in our bodies are immediately triggered by our thoughts. To keep my message short I will describe the effects of four of these chemical messengers. But keep in mind there are thousands of messengers transporting instructions throughout your body, every moment of every day.
I’ll start by offering a brief description of adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline is activated in the adrenal glands as a result of a sudden fright, which may have originated from a source outside of your person, or as result of reactive thoughts. Adrenaline is most often associated with a fear-based reaction, however it can also be triggered by excitement. You can easily feel adrenaline as it rushes through your body, thus the term “adrenaline rush”.
Cortisol is associated with stress. The causes of stress are numerous. Some stress is necessary, even beneficial as it is often stress that motivates action. The downside to sustained stress is that it increases the production of cortisol and other stress messengers – often causing or exacerbating illness and disease. Learning to understand the connection between your thoughts and the production of these two powerful chemical messengers can be life-changing.
Now, let’s consider the effects of serotonin and dopamine. Both are chemical messengers that influence your sense of well-being. Serotonin lifts your spirits, which helps you to feel positive and optimistic. Dopamine is tied into the reward center in your brain. When you are happy and productive your body produces these chemical messengers, which then help sustain your feelings of happiness.
At the beginning of this entry, I asked you to think about your day. Ask yourself, was it a good day or was it not so good? Was it a day filled with thoughts and activities that produced adrenalin and cortisol or a day that produced serotonin and dopamine?
Now, let’s go back to mindfulness. Thinking is a most personal experience. You have the power to think anything that you want to think at any time. Sure, you’ll react to things that happen around you but as soon as the reaction passes, you can go back to thinking thoughts of your choosing. The power to be aware of your thoughts and reactions is a big part of being mindful.
I want to give you something really simple to play with. Over the next day or so, try to be really mindful of your thoughts. You have the power to actively participate in which chemical messengers your body will produce. If you find yourself worrying or feeling reactive and upset about circumstances in your life, you will be increasing the production of adrenalin and cortisol, which will perpetuate your stressful thoughts. On the other hand if your day is going well and you feel light and happy, take a moment every hour or so and recognize that your thoughts, your actions and your reactions are producing serotonin and dopamine, which perpetuate feeling and thoughts of well-being.
Mindfulness is the remote control that lets you change your experience. With some practice, changing your thoughts is as easy as pushing the channel button.
In my next blog I will discuss the relationship between thoughts, time and space.
Don’t let others push your buttons!