I was driving through Washington, D.C. last week very early in the morning and noticed that my body was so tight in anticipation of driving in traffic. My thoughts had gotten the better of me as I wondered why I was so filled with anxiety. The message was clear: this was an unfamiliar city, it was just before the morning traffic, and the story I was telling myself was to be on guard. The tension was created as I focused on morning news stories about drivers falling asleep at the wheel.
Yikes, My Thoughts!
My thoughts caused my body to become rigid!
Calming my body became my focus so I could navigate this unfamiliar territory. I focused on my breath to slow my mind and relax my body. Relaxing my body eased the stress I had manufactured! Then I switched into reflection mode and asked myself what I was trying to control. The answer: I was trying to control the world around me and be prepared for any driving challenge coming my way.
Is this what is called defensive driving or was I just setting myself up for an accident?
Relaxing my body once again had an amazing impact. When my thoughts quieted, the traffic dissipated and my body stopped its alarm mode! I realized that my picture had clogged the natural flow of traffic. After all, how much traffic can there be on the road at 4:30 in the morning?
This example was a snapshot of how thoughts can produce the opposite result from what we intend. Clearly, my body appreciates feeling relaxed. When I am relaxed, other thoughts arise that allow me to think and focus more freely.
Barometer for Truth
If this situation had not involved the mental story I had created, the interpretation of what was happening in my body would have been dramatically different. If my story had not been motivated by my own fear-filled thoughts that produced a tight body, the experience of this same story of travel would have been altered. From past experience, I know it is likely I would have felt or experienced random warnings as I traveled. My attention to these warnings would have caused a sharper focus on the way I and others were driving.
The awareness is that our body generates an incredible amount of information that can help navigate our life.
Can you find examples where you felt your body revealed information different from the mental anguish your thoughts had created? What if you began to examine your thoughts and the guidance your body provides?