Body, Soul and The Mind- 2

Few Mondays ago I posted a poem with the same title. I wanted to elaborate on why I wrote it and how are the body, soul and the mind intertwined.

Self-awareness is to be able to observe one’s behaviour whether in real-time which takes a lot of practice, or through hindsight. In addition, dissecting the emotions away from the thoughts and behaviours. So that we can look down from above. An objective view.

Metacognition is the ability to change one’s emotional state through thoughts. Our minds and limbic system doesn’t know the difference between emotions that are felt through real life experiences or the ones we feel by daydreaming or visualizing an event and emotions before the event happens. Feelings influence thoughts, similarly thoughts influence feelings. When feeling the emotions that we don’t want to feel, the research in psychology suggests, we should replace those feelings with positive feelings. Visualisation is powerful technique that can help us anchor our being in a state of calmness and joy amidst discomfort and adversity.

Chronic stress is a stress response that is built in the body over a long period of time. A chronic stress response when triggered is difficult to control as the chemicals released when in any situation that triggers chronic stress, are the natural state of the body. The body goes into the fight, flight or freeze response, cortisol and adrenaline kicks in, heart beat pumps up and the person loses control over their thought process/rational thinking and emotions. As a result, the individual is likely to make poor decisions and underperform. It’s a self-sabotaging mechanism. For many individuals, if they do not address instant stress then there is a greater likelihood of chronic stress getting triggered.

I have a lot of unfinished articles laying about in the drafts. Despite knowing theory and believing that I am emotionally intelligent, emotional self-awareness in real time can be quite challenging to actualise, especially in high performance situations/sports. But such challenges also give us an opportunity to grow.

So, having explained those terms that I think link the mind body and soul, I will refer back to this diagram I drew when I wrote about the ego.

Ego, heart and mind connection

Heart and brain coherence can be observed scientifically through exposing people to different situations that will trigger a response and the ability of those people via meditation/breathing techniques to remain calm. Exposure and deliberate practise is one of the ways to develop heart and mind coherence.

How the heart beats when under stress and when there is a shift to appreciation

Conscious breathing is a great tool and anchor to shift to appreciation when feeling stress. Wim Hof has proven scientifically how he can control his body temperature under cold stress through breathing technique. It unlocks the potential of mind, it taps into the ancestral genes that lie dormant within us. Joseph Campbell in the ‘Heroes with a Thousand Faces’ describes the many journeys of the hero. The archetypal journey of hero is full of challenges, stress and obstacles. That is the nature’s way of nurturing the potential of the hero.

It is possible to reach the highest state of consciousness and keeping in mind the struggles of ego as presented above, the rhythm of the heart and breathing technique to consciously shift to a state of appreciation. Practising this over and over can help release all the trauma, stress and dispel negativity. Below are the emotions and how they rank on the spectrum. The elevated emotions on the upper end and the limiting emotions on the other end. The elevated emotions are selfless and also the creative emotions. The limiting emotions are survival emotions which keep the mind, body and soul pinned in a scarce surrounding. There is no room for growth in feeling these emotions. Growth starts when one replaces the limiting emotions with elevated emotions. Deliberate practise through focus, meditation and breathing technique can help reach a higher state of consciousness. One of abundance, one of gratitude, one of appreciation.

Where are you on the wavelength?

Which frequency are you tapping into? Is your mind constantly bombarded with beta waves? Do you rest and sleep to energise yourself? In our sleep, our mind goes into the slower theta waves. With deliberate daily practise of breathing and meditation, it is possible to access to slow down the brains waves to gamma frequency and access higher consciousness. Traditional meditational practises of different religions have proven this. Although, it is not an easy thing to achieve, it is not impossible.

Instead of describing the different frequencies of brain waves, here’s a link to a short video of a crash course on brain waves. How they help us achieve higher consciousness! how it can help us open the path to new possibilities!

This is an explanation via what I have learnt from studying psychology, a little bit of neuroscience and reading and practising meditation. If you are not a science person, refer to my previous article Affairs of the heart. In there you will find other techniques and meditations, if practised with deliberate focus, those techniques can help you get near the path of higher consciousness.

Different Types of Fear

In this article I am going to explore different types of fear. The recent discussions with someone regarding my own fears and inability to overcome them, leads me to explore fear, where do they stem from? The category it falls under, they cause of it and its relation.

My purpose in doing so, is to identify why fears take root in our subconscious and unconscious minds. How to tackle those fears and/or manage or overcome them. Fear is a strong emotion, you can see in the image above how different emotions are ranked on the spectrum. Image was taken from an article I read on neuroscience.

So here’s a clip I found from Dr. Jordan Peterson’s YT channel explaining four different types of fear. Here is what he mentions 1) own inadequacy & malevolence 2) society 3) nature (environment) 4)unknown.

1- Own Inadequacy and malevolence he explains is often felt by soldiers when they find themselves doing things that they have never imagined. An example would be war crime- a soldier raping a civilian.

Personally I have felt this fear in sparring in martial arts and something that made me defensive. To get the aggression out again I had to explore this fear, the only way I was able to explore this fear was to face it, expose myself to it and then overcome it. Did I overcome it? I would not say I overcame it, but this particular fear is what I learnt to manage. I consider this fear a healthy friend, that keeps me calm. Let me give you an example, I get into a confrontation while at a party, entertain me here, do not ask me why I was there in the first place lol, I am just creating a hypothetical situation. A person barges into me, doesn’t apologize and instead gets aggressive, using foul language and tries to intimidate me. Being me or any normal response in this situation will be an adrenaline rush, Fight, Flight or Freeze response will try hijack me. Freezing in this situation will make it worse, fight- I won’t do it because I will have the fear that I might go overboard or use excessive strength because it’s not a sparring situation where I can go light or heavy according to the level of my opponent and rules. This fear, will make me subside the adrenaline rush, let the prefrontal cortex take control of the situation and quickly calculate an appropriate response. These things often happen in milliseconds to perhaps a few minutes. So, quick thinking and confidence to handle the situation becomes key. Ultimately exposure and confidence and situational awareness helps manages this type of fear for me. What really helps here is confidence in ability to diffuse the situation.

2) Society– living in the polarised world, with many different cultures, many different peoples. I think it’s fair to say, that those who don’t conform to the norm are judged by the society. While I won’t go into a lot of details here because then, I will have to explain the characteristics of today’s society. And people will form an opinion as to what views I hold, which side I lean towards.

You see what I done up☝️, that’s some form of fear perhaps of the society judging and forming an opinion on what I write. Withholding my views here can be considered as a result of fear. Oh well, it’s not like I am here to preach my sermon. I am simply trying to elaborate on what different types of fear are like when experienced in real life. Society can be harsh and judgemental as Dr. Peterson says. He also says, courage is what wins over fear. Humans don’t become less fearful, they become more brave. So, courage is what reduces our fears and overcome/manage them. Emotional awareness is a key component, our ability to recognise when these fears are triggered is the first step in overcoming these fears.

3) Nature (Environment) This I suppose is the healthy fear that has been built in us for our survival. Nature can be a relentless force, that can turn things around in an instant, swallow up land. Tsunamis, earthquakes, landslides and storms. It’s natural to fear the wrath of nature. Nature is also loving, the mercy and blessings far extends the wrath.

4) Unknown– Our minds constantly seek certainty. This search for certainty amidst uncertainty causes anxiety and brews up all sorts of other emotions; one of them being fear. Fear of missing out on opportunities. Fear of losing, fear of unknown. However, if can learn to embrace uncertainty, then we can take a step towards overcoming the fear of uncertainty. Uncertainty can be fearful, it can be exciting. Uncertainty can be potential, uncertainty can be possibilities. Uncertainty is sure risky but nothing in life comes free. It either has time cost or costs money. These last few lines of wisdom are shared from other great people I have learnt a lot from haha

What you seek is within you- Rumi

Hope is a powerful emotion to replace fear. Hope for a better future, hope for ease after difficulty, hope for achieving the goals. Hope… beyond the scope of this discussion. There is no fear and sorrow concerning those… in the world beyond.

Affairs of the heart

I am a work in progress. I am working towards being a better human being. The essence of our being is reflected in our hearts. Our hearts are like mirrors. They either show our own ugliness, or they show the goodness.

One of the ways that helped me figure out, how many grudges and ill feelings I had been holding inside, was through meditation. I developed this meditation technique back in 2018 after, a friend told me about compassion meditation and shared some interesting facts about how our brains are wired, how the subconscious plays a key role in shaping who we are, and why we feel and do what we feel and do?

This meditation technique is known as Compassion Meditation. A Buddhist practice. The link attached is a short lecture with a guided practice.

I adopted this technique the way it would work for me. Here’s a short description of it, if you prefer to follow this method, I describe it briefly below:

  1. Start by sitting in a relaxed position in a quiet place. Make the body still.
  2. Close the eyes. Cutting off the sensory stimulation.
  3. Be present by focusing on the individual sounds in the surrounding (not busying the ears).
  4. Establish the focus on the breath. A few deep breaths to connect with the present moment.
  5. I start the compassion meditation by being compassionate to myself. I say a prayer in my head imagining myself, I echo this prayer until the force of the prayer is all around me in my head, then I start including those who are close to me expanding the circle of compassion in my head with every prayer. After that I bring the image of the whole earth in my head and echo the prayer in my head. The prayer translates in English to: Our Lord, have mercy on us. Bestow mercy on us!

The practise can last from anywhere from 5 mins to 20 mins.

This meditation technique really helped me let go of grudges and resentment I didn’t know I was holding on to. When I first started practising this technique, images of people that I disliked or was angry or holding some negative emotion for, started to pop up in my head while meditating. I countered this by including those people in my prayers too. I realised that I was holding onto unnecessary and unwanted feelings and emotions. I started becoming more aware of my negative side. I questioned myself why I didn’t like them? Was it useful to hold on to grudges and resentment? Was it helpful? Eventually, I was able to include everyone in this meditation practise without feeling any grudges, dislike, and resentment towards others. 

Back to the intro… I am a work in progress. Although I was happy to discover that some negative emotions found place in my heart and head easier than others. To give you an example, anger and fear found place in my heart and mind easier than other emotions like hate and envy. The reason I am writing this is because, in the past week or 2, I find that anger and fear is once more easily finding place in my heart and occupying my mind. However, armed with the tools to combat them, I am able to keep my composure. However, I cannot remain calm in everything I do, so this highlights that I should start practising this meditation daily, looking deeper inside my heart and subconscious. I am also sharing this because since developing this method, I have consumed a lot of content and found out that similar practices of contemplation have been part of the Islamic tradition too. Here’s a lecture series that talks about the practise of Tafaqqur by Dr. Abdullah Rothman. He talks about 9th century scholar Muhasibi, who mentioned a similar practise in his works. Muhasibi highly influenced the main scholar of metaphysics Imam Ghazzali.

Few months back, I also came across compassion meditation practise in Professor Jason M Satterfield’s course for ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Techniques for Retraining the Mind’. This meditation practise is especially useful in identifying and contemplating upon the state of our hearts and rectifying its affairs. It’s also helpful in combating anxiety and depression.