Get a grip

Are we unwitting gluttons for punishment?  Are we harming ourselves without knowing?

Get up, grab your morning beverage, open up your device, and begin the daily assault with the news.

Many times I think it just can’t get any crazier, and then it does. Like watching a train-wreck, it can be hard to look away.  It’s easy to get pulled down the rabbit-hole.

Like moths drawn to the flame, humans are drawn to the tragic and frightening stories so prevalent in the news today. The talk around the water cooler is more often about the challenges of the world than anything else.

While it’s important to stay abreast of current affairs, it’s also important to stay in balance. It’s a good time to consider our diet.

Our diet is not only the food we eat, but also the many other things we consume in a day. It’s the programs we watch, the news-feeds we read, and the many things we hear and say throughout the day.

We each bear the consequence of what we’re focusing on.

Our health and wellness are as affected by a steady diet of sensational news stories as they are by a steady diet of sugar and junk food. It’s a time to be mindful and aware of what we’re exposing ourselves to, and how often we’re taking a dive into what’s happening around us.

The challenge is, what’s negative causes a greater reaction in our minds and bodies than what’s good. Negative events are stickier than positive ones, and can easily consume our thoughts.

It takes awareness and discipline to correct the balance. Our thoughts create a chemical cascade inside our bodies, as though what we’re reading and hearing is happening to us.

I confess, earlier this year, I found myself glued to the news, in an effort to stay informed.  It wasn’t long before I noticed I was checking the news feeds more often than was reasonable or healthy.

The state of world affairs was starting to negatively affect me. I had to stop and consider what I was consuming and live life in balance.

I want to stay informed, to be empowered to make good decisions, and contribute to the goodness of life. I also know a steady diet of focusing on challenging news robs me from the goodness of my life at the present moment, and prevents me from being any good to anybody, including myself.

A simple practice, called Come Back to Your Senses, has been central in calming my mind, body, and emotions.

Take several slow, deep breaths, feeling the breath as it enters and leaves your body. This is not thinking about the breath; it’s actually experiencing the breath as it moves in the body.

Now, come to your senses.

  • What do you hear? Notice the sounds around you without judgment. Listen to sounds near and far. Notice if you can hear more sounds now than when lost in thinking.
  • What do you smell? You might need to close your eyes to really notice this sense because we often overlook what we’re smelling.
  • What do you see? List the objects you see in detail: the names, the colours, and textures of what you can see.
  • What do you taste? Can you taste anything? Notice the mouth. What does the inside of the mouth feel like? Feel the teeth, the saliva, and the tongue.
  • Finally, check in and become aware of what you feel in your body. Feel your feet on the floor, and your clothing as it touches your skin.  Feel the temperature of the air, and any other physical sensations happening right now.

If any tension remains, consciously soften your face and shoulders, take another deep breath, and relax your body.

Check in again. How are you feeling? Do you feel better? Has the mind slowed? If not, go back and repeat the steps. For me, this usually means I was thinking about the senses instead of using and sensing them.

My thinking usually slows, and things start to become clearer. This means I’ve invited the executive centre of my brain into action, and deactivated the fight-or-flight response.

This technique is helpful, not only when I get stuck in challenging thinking, but also when I’m feeling overwhelmed or nervous about something.

Coming to our senses is a simple, yet a powerful technique. It’s portable and private, but helps put us back in the driver’s seats of our lives.


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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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