The meaning we give

Dr. TonyNSA

Last week I wrote about how awareness gives us a choice: do we want to shift or not? This week, I’d like to look at how the meaning that we might give an awareness, can define the choice we make.

At the Rise and Shine class, we started off with a simple exercise. I asked the participants to lie down on the floor and feel their bodies. Moving them around and breathing gave them various bits of feedback. Some people felt tension, some felt discomfort, while still others felt ease, breath and relaxation.

I asked them for feedback, specifically I wanted them to notice how they reacted to what they felt. One person said that she felt pain and tension and immediately found herself trying to lessen those feelings. She noticed herself trying to avoid feeling uncomfortable in her body and in her mind.

We then followed up with another exercise where I asked the participants to accentuate the uncomfortable feelings. So if they felt tension, they would try to find a way to increase the tension by squeezing their muscles or contracting their bodies in some way.

Now I know what you’re thinking:). “Boy this Rise and Shine class sounds like a lot of fun!” (Sarcasm).

It can become a habit to avoid feeling uncomfortable to the point that we don’t even realize that we’re avoiding. The problem with this habit is that as time goes by, our window to what’s comfortable gets smaller and smaller. Our bandwidth for life gets smaller and smaller. So then when something nominal happens, it can set off alarm bells and have our bodies overreacting. Have you ever met someone who makes mountains out of molehills? This is my point.

We all do it to some degree, some more obviously and for some it happens more in the subconscious. Avoiding feeling uncomfortable is a defence mechanism which can rob us of life.

If we give our uncomfortable feelings the meaning “oh this is bad, I don’t want this, this is inconvenient, why me, why now, this is wrong, there must be something wrong, etc.” then we will generate a cascade of thoughts and emotions and hormones that will bring us to an inevitable conclusion.

If we choose to give our uncomfortable feelings a different meaning then we will follow a different path. Sometimes all that is needed is to stop yourself from your habit of avoidance. Doing just that means that you’re staying open and curious as to what’s really happening, and taking a closer look.

In this way we can switch our bodies from defence and stress to ease and acceptance in the moment. Instead of needlessly escalating and wasting energy, we can progressively deal with the situation. Learning the habit of acceptance and curiosity has the benefit of us opening up to the possibility of life being different.

Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants
Awareness is choice