Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tool #2, continued: Play with the Power of Your Attention

Attention is a physical thing. You’re standing in line, or sitting in your car, and for no apparent reason you suddenly turn to see someone staring at you. You perceived that person’s attention. It had a weight you could sense.

Attention is tangible: you can feel it.

Depending on the quality of that attention, it may have felt as soothing as a warm bath, as stimulating as a cup of coffee hitting your blood vessels, or intrusive and painful, a “cutting glance.”
attention button from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog
Gathering up your attention and placing it
on your self  is a healing act.

Attention may even be healing. I like it when you pay attention to me. Give me your attention for a minute. You have craved someone else’s attention just as others have craved yours.

You can rely on one thing that can be the most soothing thing to your body: your own attention.

Yet starting to gather your attention can feel difficult or weird at first.

Initially, it may feel like tough going to gather up your awareness into the middle of your head, only because you’re not used to it and you’ve probably never been validated for doing it. As the last post explored, most of us have been conditioned to look outward for what matters, and to follow others’ agendas about what we should pay attention to. 

Unless you’re a monk or a nun (and maybe even then), it’s a daring act to step back from the commotion and take the time to clear out your own overloaded head – and then to just rest there, start to notice your body’s responses to what you’ve been perceiving and doing, and finally, begin to zero in on the next steps you want to take in your life. 

To do all this gives you back a lot of power and control. So it naturally sets off some alarms for you – and others. Relatively extreme fears or anxieties may pop up for you as you do something as simple as sit still in a chair for, at first, let’s say, five minutes. You may irrationally wonder if you’ll somehow be punished or isolated from the tribe. You may feel that you absolutely must bolt from the sofa and grab a diet soda. You’re used to thinking about your future, your car, your bank account, your spouse, your ex, your job, your parents, your kids, and now and then, world environmental catastrophe. 

out-of-body note from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog
If your energy isn't occupying your body,
then who or what is?
That’s what people have always told you is productive and worthwhile and what a good, nice person does. You must be a lazy, selfish jerk to just sit there for a few minutes and not do anything except to start to pay attention to yourself. Or you must be a weirdo to not have your eyes on a screen of some kind, or an electronic device in your hand.

You’ve got a good excuse, if you need one: diabetes. You have to get yourself into clear communication with your body.

What you’re starting to do here is a style of meditation, one that’s not “transcendental” but takes a different approach, based on bringing your awareness into the driver’s seat of your body. It’s important to start out doing it not by transcending or consciously placing your awareness above your body, but by re-owning and re-occupying your body. You’re not occupying Wall Street here, just your original physical home.

The extreme things that knock you out of your body most are illness, pain, and discomfort. Discomfort can occur for lots of different reasons; you might feel energetically attacked, or you might feel physically unsafe. 

Generally, it goes against all your training, and perhaps your inclination, to deal with these factors by truly connecting yourself again with your body. Everyone else has taught you to manage pain by fleeing the body, energetically speaking. Let your spirit travel into a fantasy. Drink. Take a pill.

Actually, I have no problems with the moderate use of any of these strategies, and sometimes one does need to take a pain pill. But I prefer to have a choice about what strategy I want to use, and I want to use awareness tools in concert with other ones. I don’t want to have to be semi-unconscious in order to function.

Plus, spending more and more time out of the body creates a vicious cycle in which it becomes harder and harder to get in there and enjoy your space. If your awareness, your energy, aren’t filling and holding and enjoying your body, whose is? If your own energy presence is not occupying your body, a lot of other stuff starts to collect there: random data and stimulus from the day that your body encounters, feelings that you’ve had and taken on from others and other energies build up unattended.
feeling scattered from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog
You feel scattered when your awareness and your energy
are outside of your body.

Like a foreclosed house where no one’s living, an ignored body can find itself with accrued grunge and spiritual squatters. So getting into the body is a way of kicking out a bunch of junk that’s crept into your physical space. That’s one definition of healing.

In any case, just on the principle of pure feistiness, I don’t want anything or anyone to dictate where my awareness and attention can or cannot be relative to my body. And I don’t want to be dictated by habit or culture to abandon my body just because some things are going on with it that I didn’t ask for or because that’s what everyone does. My body goes through enough with diabetes without my getting all spacey on it.

Addressing what’s going on with me starts simply by placing my tangible attention in and on my lovely body, just as it is – fat, thin, high blood-sugar or normal, tired, vigorous, gorgeous, ugly, strong, weak. Wherever and however it is. Mine.

Right now I’m patting myself on my thighs as I write this. Good body.

This time, with your awareness in the middle of your head, give your body some much-needed attention.

Once again, read the actions described below, then take a break from reading and do them. If you forget where you are, it’s fine to stop, open your eyes, and find the next thing to do in the list, then go back to the process. You don’t have to be perfect before, during, or after. 

When you get used to this, you won’t need a list: you’ll just get into the center of your head pretty instantly.
bright eyes from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog
To get back into the driver's seat of your body, bring your awareness
behind your eyes.
  • Close your eyes. Be aware of the wall behind you. 
  • Be aware of the wall across from you. 
  • And now be aware of the walls on either side of you. 
  • And then add to that awareness the ceiling and the floor below and above you. Be aware of all four walls around you. Notice any effect that has on your body. 
  • Bring that awareness to your face, then to the top of your head. 
  • Then be in the middle of your head. Literally. Be in the middle of your head. That's a point directly behind your eyes. 
  • From the middle of your head, be aware of the distance to the top of your head. 
  • Be aware of the distance between you and your face or your forehead. 
  • And be aware of the distance between you and either side, left and right, of you. 
  • Notice what that feels like. Does it have any effect on you? 
  • Notice your hands, but be aware of the distance between you and your hands. Notice what your hands feel like from the middle of your head. 
  • Now, as you’re in the middle of your head, be aware of the distance between you and your breath. 
  • Here’s a fun part. Ask what in your body could use some attention from you? Please look at the body in your mind’s eye, with your eyes closed, and ask it where it needs your attention. Be specific. 
  • Give your attention to that part of the body. Gently place your attention on that spot. Just notice it. 
  • Go to the next spot. Just notice it. Breathe and exhale. 
  • Find one more place in your body that needs your attention. Just put your awareness on it. Say hello to it. One more inhale. Exhale. 
  • Repeat as much as you’d like to right now. Or maybe you’re done. 
  • Take a deep breath. Wiggle a little in your chair. Touch your face. 
  • Stand up, stretch, and yawn. 
Did that feel good? 

If you want to further explore or relish the experience, create a spiritual mechanics notebook for you to write
flower illustration from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog
Locating your awareness inside your body
feels good.
in about the experiences you’re having with these tools (the kind you can hold in your hands or your electronic version). Start an entry about what that exercise felt like to you. What happened? What did you notice? Surprises, discomfort, comfort? Let yourself write a little.

More to come soon in the next post!

copyright © 2013 Lisa Bernstein

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tool #2: Get Back into Your Body: Bring Your Awareness into the Center of Your Head - Part 2

Continued from the previous post,

The first step to getting into your body is bringing your awareness into the center of your head. 

This tool is not hard to do. I’ve taught it to people over the phone who instantly feel comfortable using it. I’ve even taught it to second-graders.

baby with awareness in the center of its head from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes Bblog

Here’s the step-by-step, highly aware version of doing it consciously for the first time. First, read the activities described below, then close your eyes and do as much as you can remember. When you’re done, open your eyes and check whether you did it. Repeat as needed.
  • Find a quiet space to sit down by yourself without distractions. 
  • Ideally, put both feet flat on the ground. Sit up straight, which helps your energy system get into alignment. It’s better to not lie on the ground while starting to do this, because you might doze off. 
  • Close your eyes. 
  • Raise your hands to either side of your head and lightly touch yourself just above the ears. Imagine a straight line through your head that connects your two hands. 
  • Now move one hand to lightly touch the middle of your forehead and the other to touch the back of your head. Imagine a straight line through your head that connects your two hands. 
  • Notice that point where the first line and the second line intersect. Bring your awareness there. Now your awareness is behind your eyes roughly in the middle of your head. 
  • Bring your hands to your lap. 
  • Let your awareness settle into that space a couple of inches behind your eyes. 
  • Notice how that feels. 
    bring your awareness behind your eyes from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog
  • Imagine a horse galloping across a meadow. Let the image go. Keep your eyes closed. 
  • Check if your awareness is still in that space a couple of inches behind your eyes. 
  • From behind your eyes, postulate that there’s a small movie or laptop screen (but no actual laptop or movie projector) immediately in front of your face, about 8 inches away. 
  • Let yourself see a rose – any color or shape – on that screen. 
  • Take a deep breath. Look at the rose. 
  • Now fold up that screen and let it spontaneously combust, leaving nothing behind. 
  • You may find some sense of pressure or congestion there in the middle of your head. That’s natural. It may have been awhile since you’ve been there. And nature abhors a vacuum, as the saying goes. 
  • Take a deep breath, and as you exhale postulate that you’re releasing any unwanted energy from anybody or anything else from inside the middle of your head. It’s yours. Breathe, exhale, and repeat as much as you want. 
  • This place where your awareness is is your property. No one else owns it. 
  • Be mildly amused at any trespassers luring you into chatter, or any distractions. Just let them pass through as you enjoy sitting in the middle of your head. 
  • You might start to look around, with your eyes closed, at the center of your head. What does this space look like? If you’re inspired, start to redecorate it. If not, just notice. 
  • Touch your face, which brings you back into the present and helps take you out of the light trance you just got into. 
  • Open your eyes. 
  • Notice where your awareness starts from now, in terms of your own physical geography – still behind your eyes? If not, where else? 
Congratulations! You did it.

Notice how you feel. Resist the urge to judge or evaluate. Right now, you’re gathering information for yourself.

Now, as you keep reading these words, with your eyes open, bring your awareness back behind your eyes. Keep reading these words from that place in the middle of your head. Your awareness is comfortably seated in that place inside your head, while you read this page.

You’ve just put yourself in the driver’s seat of your body.

in the driver's seat from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog

With your awareness just behind your eyes, you put yourself in the driver’s seat of your body. The pilot’s seat; the control room.

This spot is the location of the sixth chakra, which is related to the pineal gland in the endocrine system, our “third eye.” You have access to a clearer view by using your awareness from the sixth chakra. Here, you have greater neutrality and certainty. 

Lightly touching your temples and then the front and back of your head simply helps you remember where the middle of your head is. You may feel silly doing this, but feeling a bit silly is actually a great intuitive tool. Seriously. I mean – uh – really. As an earlier post explores (, a readiness to see the humor in things is one of your most helpful spiritual tools. Approaching the use of intuitive tools with a leaden seriousness isn’t going to get you anywhere. It promotes a feeling of deficiency, as if you need years of study to access your own intuitive abilities and as if you couldn’t possibly have the expertise needed to use them.

Ditch that idea. Postulate that this intuitive tool is fun and that you can do it. 

Anyway, as you become used to finding the middle of your head and letting your awareness settle in from behind your eyes, you may not need to make these gestures. But giving yourself a geographical grounding of where your head actually is can be a great tool if you feel so overloaded that, to change the saying a bit, you don’t know your head from a hole in the ground. 

There you are, with your awareness snugly settled in the middle of your head. You’re already getting more experienced, aren’t you, at bringing your awareness back into that place. Look around the room. Look out the window, if you’re near one. Notice the distance between where your awareness is and what you’re looking at.

You’ve just gotten back into your body – a powerful place for a diabetic, or anyone, to be.

Don’t try hard. If you notice that feeling, you’re using your body, not your spirit, to handle energy.

Notice that you don’t need any effort to do any of this. The body loves effort. The spirit does not. In fact, effort – the feeling of trying really hard – gets in the way of using spiritual mechanics. The body likes to exercise and it experiences exercise as physical work. If you are noticing that “trying hard” feeling, it means you are using your body – not your spiritual tools – to do spiritual mechanics.

The more effective way to handle energy is to use energy tools from the center of your head, in your sixth chakra. You wouldn’t ask your dog to solve a math problem. And you wouldn’t ask your sixth chakra to catch a ball. Use energy tools to handle energy, and specifically, use your sixth chakra to do so with neutrality and certainty.

sixth chakra or third eye from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog

In fact, one of the factors contributing to your diabetes and to difficult blood-sugar control probably is that you’re using your body, not your being, to handle the energy of situations and communications.

Of course, the need to try hard is familiar. You’re used to it not only because your body likes it, but because probably you’ve been encouraged to work hard and try hard in school and at home. Well, in the arena of meditating and using energy tools, you’re off the hook. Don’t try. Just do. But do from the center of your head.

For instance, I notice that when I’m in a room that feels chaotic to me, I get a feeling of pain or tightness in my belly. 

Often I don’t feel quite “safe” energetically or even physically in a chaotic environment, whether it’s a big crowd or a small gathering. To be more exact, a couple of inches above my belly button, my body starts to feel tense. I learned that this is the location of my third chakra (more on this later); when I feel challenged or threatened, I tend to respond by trying to control what’s going on in the room using my third chakra. Ugh, chug; I get that feeling of pushing a big rock up a mountain. I’m aware of that feeling of physical effort – which is odd, because all I’m doing is, let’s say, sitting on a chair or standing at the edge of a room.

These are clues to me that my body is going into effort in its attempts to fix something going on around me. Once I have that awareness, I can shift tactics. One of my very first tactics is to note where my awareness is. Is it down in my gut trying to calm the room? Or is my attention scattered all around the room? Or have I left the premises, awareness-wise, because I couldn’t handle what was happening right here, and now I’m thinking about work or my car or a recent conversation? And my next tactic might be – breathe, exhale, and bring my awareness right behind my eyes.

target image from The Spiritual Mechanics of Diabetes blog

Now I’m centered in my own space. Whew, what a relief. At least from this vantage point I can see a bit more clearly and feel a bit more comfortable. I’m in my own body, and my own driver’s seat of that body. And that’s really one of the best places to simply be while being aware.

copyright © 2013 Lisa Bernstein