The power of the mind


Did you know you have the power to time travel? I'm not getting all woo woo on you, but it's absolutely true.


Take a moment and think back about one of your favorite memories. And now think of something you're super excited to do at some point in your life.


Poof! You just traveled back and forward in time in a matter of seconds. And here's the super cool part – your mind had no idea it wasn't actually happening in real time.


While it's an interesting fact that the mind registers our thoughts as actualities, it does come with one notable downside: When you're thinking negative thoughts, or replaying hurts and traumas of the past, your mind believes you're going through that process again (and again, and again…).


Let's try a little experiment. Take a moment to close your eyes and think of one of the happiest moments in your life. With your eyes closed, go into as many of the details as you can within the memory. Think about the colors, sounds, scents, people, animals – all the things.


As you remain within that memory, and keeping your eyes closed, notice how your body is responding to that imagery. Where are your shoulders? How fast or slow is your heart beating? Notice how your breath is moving through your body (shallow? slow? relaxed?).


When you're ready to leave the memory, take a big breath in through your nose and then exhale through your mouth.


Now this next one might get tricky, so choose your memory appropriately for where you're at in this moment. Go back into the corners of your mind and recall a not-so-great memory from the past.


In order for this exercise to be accurate, you absolutely do not need to go deep into the depths of past traumas. A mildly-heated conversation with someone will definitely suffice.


Once you've sat with this yuckier memory for a bit, notice your body's reaction to this memory. Where are your shoulders now? Is your jaw clenched? Are you holding your breath or breathing more shallowly? What rate is your heart beating with this memory directing its pace?


When you've had enough of this thought, take another big breath in through your nose, then open your mouth and sigh it out.


Likely you noticed two different bodily reactions to these separate memories, and maybe that surprises you. Now, knowing that our bodies have a distinct reaction to our thoughts, how can you use this information to improve your wellness?


Once I understood this body/mind connection on a deeper level, I began to notice the many times I'm mentally time traveling throughout my day.


That might show up as me fantasizing about living in the woods, which makes my body feel calm and hopeful. It also can show up as me having a heated discussion with someone about a conversation that hasn't yet happened – and, let's be clear, may *never* happen – and my body responds with tension, shallow breathing, and a rapid heartbeat.


Now, don't get me wrong. I'm a planner and a visionary, so thinking about the future is extremely helpful for me, both personally and professionally. That being said, I can also hold a grudge (I'm working on it!), and I have a few unresolved issues that someday will be sorted out, when the time is right.


But where we can be of best service to ourselves is when we use our time-traveling capabilities to our benefit, rather than our detriment. So the next time you find yourself remembering a crappy moment in your life, or creating a conversation that may or may not happen in the future, recognize you're doing that. And here's the most important part – don't talk trash to yourself when you notice it's happening. Simply acknowledge that you're doing it (again, and again, and again…), and switch your mind to something else.


For me, I'll bring myself back into the actual moment that I'm in – whether that's sorting laundry, or doing the dishes, or sitting at my desk. More often than not, my current experience is much better than the imaginary cranky one I'm enmeshed in.


By bringing our mind into a more balanced and relaxed state, we help our bodies in ways we may not even understand. The first step is noticing when we're traveling through time and then returning to the present moment.


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