Change brings discomfort and a feeling of defeat. We try anything to help release emotional and physical pain but still feel anxious or depressed. We can be over the hurt but our body is still holding onto the injury- 'memory pain'.
Memory pain is when we continue our habitual patterns of reactions to stressors. This directly affects the way we feel about ourselves and others- mind, body, and soul. In order to begin to change, we need to allow ourselves to let go of memory pain. By letting go, we allow opportunity to change our neural connections that allow us to adapt to new circumstances in a healthy way.
The development of memory pains is unconscious. An example would be the demands of work or school create neural networks, and these networks are important to get the job done. The problem is when the demands are finished and we continue to live in this unconscious mental habit. We've conditioned our mental neural habits that can't be let go or changed. So much of life does not require these kinds of connections, but we end up using these same patterns to try to change. We have created dominant patterns based on stress and when things change, as they inevitably do, we have a nervous system attuned to a specific way of functioning.
When we try to change, like taking up a new exercise regimen or diet, we encounter an internal struggle that limits our ability to adapt. During stressful periods, we eat in certain ways and move or not move in certain ways - we have trained our nervous system for stress. In cases of abuse, injury, or PTSD, the memory pain is there; always influencing how we perceive and respond. A stress pattern is always ready for more stress - it's like a hammer that treats everything like a nail. The hardest part is most of the stress pattern in our nervous system is beyond our conscious control. The pain however can be very real!
So how do we make good neural connections that enhance feeling good and reduce those based on stress and memory pains??
The first step is taking up a practice of mindfulness, not just meditation but observing. Practice seeing without judgment, observing the memory pains and stress response. This is challenging because it makes us uncomfortable to the awareness of the problem but the practice and diligence of mindfulness begins to define the boundaries between how we feel and how we react. By practicing awareness we have more control of our choices to our response.
How do you know if you are practicing mindfulness? Besides meditation,Yoga and Tai Chi, or any number of mindful exercises, they require 3 things:
relaxation, breathing exercises or breath control, and correct postural alignment. Mindful massage/bodywork/acupuncture are essential modalities directly affecting memory pains because the nervous system is immediately aware and responsive to the changes.
We may not be able to adapt to every change that we want but we can choose to not be a broken record repeating stress.
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