Learning To Be At Peace With Your body
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Sometimes we get annoyed, frustrated or worried about the physical parts of our body that don’t work well.
And the more we tend to focus on what is not working, or on what gives us pain or problems, the more we will notice additional physical issues, whether in frequency, intensity, range of the issue, or duration.
When we are struggling with our physical symptoms, it’s important to keep our emotions in check, as much as possible.
Much like you have learned already, this is because extreme emotions can signal to the brain that there is a problem or ‘danger’, and as a result, the brain can send more signals to the physical body to alert us of the danger – resulting in more identifiable physical alerts / symptoms, over and above what you might normally be experiencing due to your illness.
You may also recall that as much as people might try to avoid the issues or use distraction, the problems may linger.
As such, in cases where there is little you can do to medically fix the problem, we want to get used to turning the level of attention down, just as if we were turning down the volume on a song.
This does not mean the physical symptom will disappear, but it’s simply another way to practice responding in a different way, which lessens extra signals being sent from the brain.
For this exercise, we will simply practice focusing on another part of your body that does not hold any issue for you.
A body part which you may even like or love about yourself.
We then switch our attention back to the troubled area and simply practice noticing how it feels, but we don’t concentrate too hard – we just observe.
We then switch back to the part of your body that you like again.
This gentle and continued observational switching shows the brain that we are not fearful of the troubling symptom; we show the brain that we are much bigger than the symptoms.
For example, Ibrahim often has upper back pain. This makes him worried about his condition.
When he is more worried, he notices feeling more breathless too, and then he finds himself then criticising other parts of him which give him worry also – his nails, his skin, his fatigue … he quickly gets overwhelmed.
Ibrahim starts off by practicing using the calming breathing technique for a few minutes.
He then chooses to shift his focus to his ears. He feels the ears are neutral territory for him; because they are safe on his head, away from his back.
He listens to his breathing and to the sounds of the environment that he is in for another minute or so, until he feels a little calmer.
He then gently shifts his focus back to his back pain, just slowly noticing the different sensations there, in the spirit of interest and compassion.
He continues to breathe.
He then switches his attention back to his ears, noticing how they feel and what they can hear.
He may even imagine the kind and supportive words from people that he has listened to in the past.
He continues this switching and calm noticing until he no longer feels overwhelmed.