I would like to start off by telling you a little story:
I didn’t sleep great last night.
Now, I could blame it on the cat for making noises all night, or even the air conditioner being too loud, but the truth is that I ate half a pint of ice cream right before bed. At least it was almond milk “ice cream”….so that’s basically healthy, right? To be fair, it is sold in the “healthy food” section of Hannaford.
Okay, I knew it wasn’t the best thing for me and I knew so much sugar that late at night would probably keep me up, but still, I kept eating (all while watching the new documentary on Netflix called What The Health, mind you…talk about mixed messages.)
As you can imagine, waking up wasn’t the most pleasant experience. I laid in bed instead of working out and scrolled through instagram instead of meditating. Finally getting up, I remembered that it was Thursday, which for me typically means 7:00 am “Sunrise Yoga”.
Immediately my lazy inner self rolled its eyes at my trying-to-do-right conscious self for even considering such a ridiculous request.
Then suddenly, to my amazement, a single thought crossed through my mind: “I don’t want to do yoga was because it will make me feel better.”
Don’t we always want to feel better? Isn’t it the goal to be the best version of ourselves every single day? Why would I want to stay stuck in a slump when a quick yoga class could pull me right out of it?
I toiled over this perplexing concept throughout the entire yoga class (yes, I went). Only barely going through the motions, I was consumed in trying to figure out this all too common human experience. And truthfully, I only went to class to test what would happen if I rebelled against the way my subconscious wanted me to behave.
If you’re still with me, let’s break this down together:
- Why would I want to continue feeling bad when I could easily gain more energy and turn my day around by literally walking upstairs into the yoga studio (I have zero excuses that normal people have, seeing as how I live in the yoga studio…ugh, I miss the easy excuses.)
- I knew that yoga would make me feel better.
- Why wouldn’t I want to feel better?
- I knew that yoga would make me feel better.
We can come up with excuses all day long, but when we sort through the lies we tell ourselves, there is always a single truth.
And today that truth was that I didn’t want to let go of the tired slump that I was in because by staying tired I would have a way out. I would have an excuse and a reason not to work hard today. And mostly, at the end of the day, if I didn’t “do my best” then I could chalk it all up to not sleeping well as my reason why.
Its a safety net.
This, my friends, is a defense mechanism and a ego protector. What it all comes down to is the ego not wanting to get hurt. The ego is so terrified of failing that it will come up with every excuse possible to make sure it has a safety net always there to catch it’s downfall.
By making the decision to tell my ego to shove it and to go to yoga anyways, I was taking a risk that I would no longer have an excuse to fall back on if I didn’t “succeed” today (whatever that word means to me).
We all have a fragile ego, whether we’re able to admit it or not. And the truth is that it gets stronger the more you ignore or deny it.
So what do we do about it?
In my ice cream example there was only one trick that I was able to use to beat my ego in the battle for control…
Recognizing my thoughts.
By becoming aware of the subtle ways in which the subconscious attempts to override my conscious mind (when my body acts on autopilot), I am able to notice how I am behaving while it is happening (sometimes).
This may not seem like a major feat of any kind, but trust me, most of us run on autopilot all day, every day. We react to our environments (especially if they’re always familiar) in predictable ways, running through the motions of our lives in a similar fashion every day.
Behaving in this way creates a dangerous situation where we don’t actually have control over how our subconscious is controlling our body, since it is simply reacting to the environment, storing data for future use, and making decisions for us. It is only with practice of becoming aware of our thought processes that we can override our subconscious and ultimately rebel against the stored behaviors that no longer serve our highest good.
So you may be wondering, what does this all mean? And seriously, what the heck does it have to do with massage?
What I am hoping that you will get out of this story is an awareness of the automatic processes that occur in our subconscious mind that dictate much of what we do in our lives. And with that awareness begin to shift those unconscious thoughts over to the conscious part of your mind where they can be monitored and CHANGED.
The more frequently the same neuron pathways are fired (aka, the more frequently you react the same way to the same stimulus) the stronger those pathways become. Eventually, without conscious monitoring, subtle back road pathways that once we’re a concern turn into major 4-lane highways that dictate much of your behavior.
I could probably write a whole other post just about how our thoughts create our reality…and maybe I will someday, but for now I will just leave you with a few directions: the next time you notice yourself behaving in a way that you’re not a fan of (fighting with your spouse, feeling anxious, being stubborn, lying, cheating, eating unhealthy food, drinking uncontrollably, etc.) take two minutes to recognize the behavior and then try to trace it back to why it is that you’re feeling that way. What is the true underlying cause? Is it fear? Is it a lack of self-love? Whatever it may be, just be aware that all of our behaviors are a combination of learned responses to stimuli and they can be changed, but first, they must be acknowledged.
Truthfully, this isn’t about getting a massage. I’m not using this story as some hidden message to convince you to get more massages. But, while we’re on the topic, I will say, massage strengthens the mind-body connection and increases you’re ability to become attuned to what you’re feeling in your body and your thoughts associated with those sensations. For instance, noticing that you’re clenching your jaw or tensing your shoulders when you drive.
***If you would like deeper insight into this topic including step by step instructions of how to meditate in order to become conscious of your unconscious thoughts and behaviors, check out the book Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One by Dr. Joe Dispenza. I promise that it will change your life for the better.
Your Body Will Thank You.
When was the last time you paid attention to all the incredible things your body does for you on a daily basis? For all it does, doesn’t it deserve a break? A chance to rest, repair, and recharge so you can continue being incredible? I think so too. I’d love to see how I can help you.