Mind Hack for Stressed People
(1) Use feedback. Of course you can get a meter and do direct feedback to calm the heart rate and blood pressure, but there are other feedback loops going all the time, such as the voice. If you can’t just stop the internal dialogue, try modulating it. Change the way it sounds by slowing it down to a normal, modulated, pleasant voice.
Begin to insist on a balance between what is being said and how it is being said. Make the sound of the voice of equal importance to the conveying of information. As you do this you begin to use the sound of your voice as a feedback loop when you speak to others.
As you put consciousness into the sound of the voice the quality of the thinking improves because it is processed through the body. One can just run patterns at the speed of thought, but that gathers neurosis quickly. The act of moving awareness into the voice moves attention to the heart chakra, in the center of the chest just under the clavicle. Heart centering is the most advanced spiritual work there is.
There are other feedback loops, such as handwriting, though few people write cursive now. One of the greats in handwriting analysis, the late Abraham Kaminsky, said that if you change your handwriting, your personality changes also. This suggests that calligraphy might be an excellent way to change yourself for the better. Prior to inventing the laptop computer, Steve Jobs studied calligraphy with a former Trappist monk, Robert Palladino, “as single mindedly as a monk” for 18 months.
(2) Listen to the advice of Baruch Spinoza.
Baruch Spinoza was postulating four hundred years ago what some physicists are now postulating, which is that consciousness is primary, not time and space, which are in this model, constructs. What that means is that consciousness is creating everything, but not from an individual being separate from the creations. It has no location because it is prior to everything else. Spinoza was four hundred years ahead of his time. He had this advice about dealing with the feelings in the body:
Pay attention to the feelings in your body, but do not connect them to anything outside yourself as causing them. In most cases that would be unconscious projection. Instead, just pay attention to the feelings. This brings the attention into the body instead of letting it run off into thinking which is disconnected from the body, the origin of projection. When you think about what is outside yourself, other people, for example, you have an alternative to projection if you aren’t unconscious of it anymore. You can consciously connect positive emotion to thoughts of others by staying heart centered.
(3) Don’t identify with negative emotion.
You know how you may wake up one morning full of regrets for something in the past, and it crowds out everything else? And you feel awful because you are guilty and no amount of repentance can make it better? This is negative emotion and it drains your energy. You might dream your car won’t start. Real truth is in balance, as in the heart when the esthetic sense of the body is in balance with the ethical sense of the thinking. Identify with a one-sided thought and you lose energy. Refuse it your identity and you don’t. Usually these opposites are created by ego inflation, or, self-importance. What goes up must come down.
Think of ego inflation as sugar and deflation as the sugar crash. The alternative to shifting back and forth is to pair them together, like whisky and water. If you are heart centered, you do not identify with the inflation, but tease it with what is called the black needle. You puncture it so that you stay centered. If we acknowledge the shadow side (that which we boot out of the ego as too embarrassing to be us, in favor of pretending toward what gives us more status in the group) we don’t project it onto other people.
At the practical level, when we wake up feeling guilt and regrets for who we are, the first question to ask, aloud if we wish, is, “Is there another side to this?” And there always is, because if it wasn’t one-sided it wouldn’t be negative, with these attendant effects. Just knowing you are identified with negative emotion will restore balance. In the Tibetan Book of the Dead it is that moment, while wandering in the bardo, where you realize that all of it, on either side of center, is a projection of your intellect.
(4) Just as Spinoza advised to pay attention to the kinesthetic feedback in the body, but do not connect it to an external cause, do the same with what you think. Milton Erickson, who was the world’s greatest medical hypnotist, said that the meaning of any communication is the response it gets, and there is no other meaning. The impression that there is other meaning is in your head, and is not part of the communication. By knowing this, we can build on the responses instead of trying to apply what is in our heads as being the meaning. There is a perfectly choreographed dance which is prior to any thought at all, and it is only inside this dance where we can influence what is manifesting. After that it’s a world of compartmentalization, the realm of the Father. In dreams a hotel is a symbol of the father because of the compartmentalization. There are many rooms in my father’s house.
(5) Remember that you are your attention.
If the dentist is drilling in your mouth, move your attention into relaxing your hands. About seventy percent of pain is emotional and thirty percent physiological. By putting the attention into the hands, and relaxing them, the entire body relaxes back down from that focal point where the drill meets the tooth. It is there but without as much emotional involvement. The reason pain is mostly emotional is that we tend to not really feel the actual sensation. We have a kind of phobic response, like some people do to a spider, or driving across a long bridge. If we relax away from the unconscious response, and feel the actual sensation without being emotionally involved with it, it becomes different in kind. Knowing this, we can apply it in varied situations. Johnathan Miller wrote, “The Body in Question,” which was also a BBC series and is available on YouTube. In the book he had a drawing of what the body would look like it it was proportional to the nerve receptors it has. As you might guess it is mostly hands and mouth. They tend to work together, so relaxing the hands will relax the mouth. By learning to move the attention in the body, with autogenic training for example, victims of an avalanche have avoided amputation from frostbite by warming their extremities with their attention.