How do I release stress and tension from my mind body and spirit? How do I remove negativity from the mind?
It seems more and more people are asking:
What is it that I can actually do to let stressful thoughts and emotions go? What is the process? I am ready to freely receive love, blessings, but I need to understand how to "let go" of the negative emotions.
This is an important question, and one could say this is THE proverbial million dollar question. So, how do we release all of this “negativity” (stress) once accumulated? What is the process?
How negativity, tension and mental stress (aka. trauma) may accumulate.
First, it's important to understand how negative emotions (mental stress, cognitive dissonance) may accumulate. Based on my own experiences, and after researching this for many years. It seems the common view is that this kind of “negativity” (general term: “trauma”) builds from the time we are very young. There may also be events throughout life that can be traumatic or contribute to negativity, and stress in the mind and body.
Here is a very simplified view of how this may build. This has been my experience, of how this basic cycle develops.
How a mental trauma may originate:
- There is an outer event.
- A perception of that event is formed.
- A belief, interpretation, or perception (a “story”) around that event is formed.
- Finally, one may even begin to form a new self Identity, or worldview based on these perceptions and beliefs (that originated with the event).
- The physiology adapts to this new mental view, which may create continual stress responses based on new perception.
Steps 2, 3, and 4 are mostly in the subconscious mind just beyond the level of conscious perception. This belief structure that solidifies may become part of our “identity”, in other words “who we think we are”. One may then go thru life looking through the lens of these past events, constantly on guard for the next time something similar may happen that triggers these unconscious reactions. These reactions are nearly always based in fear, because it is this "survival" aspect of the nervous system. So emotions like guilt, shame, anger, betrayal, sadness, abandonment, confusion etc... are common.
One can then feel “imprisoned” almost by the constant triggering of these mental traumas. In a subconscious desire to resolve them or perhaps just from a place of familiarity, one may actually create or subconsciously be attracted to people or situations that are actually not preferable, in order to try and heal this wound, or trauma.
In essence, one has lost sovereignty over their own nervous system, in that they may be constantly reacting unconsciously to outside influences or inaccurate perceptions. There is a constant unconscious triggering based on perceptions, beliefs etc. that can lead to constant low level stress.
Cultivating the skill of observing thoughts and emotions (without reacting) can help to return sovereignty over the nervous system to you (your True Self). The "identity" may raise many false fears along the way of regaining this sovereignty. In my experience, this "observing" (of my own mind) is one of the most relaxing and releasing skills one can develop. This is one of the skills cultivated by meditation. Of course, if there is an actual emergency by all means react and take positive actions. I am mainly referring to the low level reactions that are sometimes unconscious, that occur frequently and can create a low level of constant stress.
Here are a few other things that I have done that have seemed to help with bringing these traumas, up into awareness, and out of the body.
Methods that can help with releasing mental stress, trauma and negativity from the subconscious mind:
- Meditation - Meditation helps to cultivate the skills of “being present”, and “observing without reacting” among other things.
- Fasting - prayer - Fasting can help with cleansing and resetting the gut microbiome (see more below.)
- Yoga / exercise - Yoga resets biorhythms and breathing patterns and conditions the nervous system, and muscles to release stress.
- Sound Therapy - Sound therapy can aid in relaxing the mind and body and stimulating the “rest and digest” mode of the nervous system. This is covered in more detail in the course, "Heal through the power of Sound and Frequency"
For all 3 of the above: In my experience, relaxation can help lead to release of stored stressors from the nervous system. This may be a physical and mental process. When suppressive mechanisms are relaxed, traumas or undesirable emotions can rise and be released.
- Probiotics and Anti-fungals - The gut is becoming known again as our “second brain”. Many of our brain chemicals are made in the gut. Scientists are now finding links to anxiety depression and more related to gut bacteria. Many positive and necessary brain chemicals like Serotonin are made in the gut by gut bacteria.
Scientist are also researching links between early childhood trauma and gut bacteria:
- Role of gut microbiome in posttraumatic stress disorder: More than a gut feeling
- A Traumatic Experience Can Reshape Your Microbiome
My experience is that cleansing the gut can help in releasing old emotions and traumas.
What to eat to cleanse the gut? (“So delicious” brand plain coconut yogurt has been a good one for me. The probiotics can replenish the gut, while the lauric acid in the coconut can have an anti-fungal effect, to cleanse the bad bacteria. In my experience, I have also noticed emotional cleansing as the bad bacteria is being cleansed. There are many more cleansing foods and supplements.)
- Diet — less or no sugars. eat more real fruits and veggies. What we eat also supports proper gut bacteria and a healthy microbiome, which in turn affects our moods. Organic is best because the pesticides or other chemicals may upset microbiome (among other things).
- Stay hydrated — drink adequate amounts of water. Preferably filtered or spring water with no fluoride.
- Get proper vitamins and minerals — List of vitamins and minerals for mental health here.
- Journal — “Journaling” is a great way to develop a more objective view of what’s happening in your life. I have found this extremely helpful in my own experience. This also reinforces the “observe, but don’t react”, skill. Journal as though you were a journalist observing your life. Try not to get involved with the “stories” of your mind. Most of our internal "stories" are “fake news”, anyway. Also, this helps is to give voice to what may be repressed. I believe we all have what I call a “silent self”, who is actually chattering inside all day long, but rarely are those needs and concerns spoken aloud. Journaling can be a great way to express those needs and feelings on paper. Over time, I have found that this helps in coming to see some of the patterns within my own psyche.
In my personal experience of healing this is part art, and science. Healing (return to wholeness or "balance") can occur on the physical or mental side. Factors on either side may affect the other. For instance, brain chemicals affect our mood — however, our mood (chosen perspectives) also affect our brain chemicals. Developing an understanding and awareness of the shifts that you may be experiencing takes some time.
The process of releasing stress, tension and negativity from the subconscious
Keep in mind that our body is designed to maintain homeostasis, or to maintain balance. This is why we must keep moving in the direction of wellbeing even if the results seem slow. For example, when dieting, anyone would love to lose weight as rapidly as possible, but in reality that would not be a healthy system for the body to adopt. If we were in a situation where we really couldn't eat for many days our body is designed to manage our system so we don't immediately begin dropping huge amounts of weight. Similarly the body can also withstand certain unhealthy living practices for years, because of this ability to maintain homeostasis. Transformation, mentally and physically, is probably best processed in small bits over time, rather than all at once. I have found that this gives me some time to adapt, equalize and integrate. Give yourself the time and space to change and adjust. I always remind myself to trust the process!
In my experience, the process, of transformation, has progressed something like this:
- Engage in a mind body practice (meditation, yoga, sound therapy, breath practice)
- Experience relaxation, heightened sense of wellbeing, release.
- Sometime later, or even during a practice...there may be an experience of (shame, guilt, self consciousness, anger, sadness, fear)
- One of the skills to develop is that when these emotions arise to "observe, but don't react". This allows our "observing mind" to process an understanding of our perceptions and thoughts with more understanding.
- The more one understands their own perception, or thought processes the easier it is to let the attachment to them go. This may occur all at once, or gradually. Over time, this may lead to understanding personal behavior patterns, over time and through various real life situations.
- As one "lets go" of perceptions that may trigger physiological stress responses, they are able to experience more peace, and calm in the mind and body.
It may be better to go slow, and practice in shorter time periods in the beginning. This allows for a gradual processing and release of mental and physical stresses.
Most mental “healing” is, in actuality a resolution, of cognitive dissonance. This resolution also usually results in physical relaxation, and release as well. Many times I have noticed that my healing comes as an “Insight” into that situation or belief or long held perception. When I finally “get it”, it seems so simple. Yes, I just couldn’t see it before. I couldn’t see what I couldn’t see. When I let that belief or old thought pattern go, and the pain along with it, part of “me” changes too. That old identity that was attached to that trauma, in the form of a belief or perception, experiences a sort of transformation as well.
Many times people experience this mental detox in small manageable bits. This process can be somewhat uncomfortable. Why? Because we spend most of our time running in the opposite direction of “healing” (resolving cognitive dissonance). We tend to react with aversion to the things that have caused us pain in the past, rather than looking at them. Most of the time we try to distract our mind with TV, food, sex, religion, smart phones, apps etc etc.. anything but stop long enough to look at that trauma. However, it is important to seek stillness longer enough to become aware of our mental patterns, before we can let them go. We have to “feel it, to heal it”.
Meditation, yoga, sound therapy and mind body practices are the opposite of aversion. This is when we take time to sit and allow ourselves to be with ourselves (and with any issues.) By being with them they have the possibility to bubble up, enter the conscious mind and then leave the mind and body. This is not always easy, and there are even times where I have had several days in an absolute funk. Over time though this process gets easier and easier. There is also a greater understanding overtime of your own thought patterns and mechanisms of avoidance, self deception, and more.
Some people may experience a lot of release at once. I have exeperienced this firsthand, and this can be difficult to process. Release of a lot of cognitive dissonance and subconscious stress from the body can be unnerving. Also, this rapid sort of experience is likely to include a more rapid shift of the “Identity” as the healing occurs rapidly. This can be mentally ungrounding for a time. Knowing and understanding this process is half the battle.
Another reason why I included the phrase, “observe, but don’t react” and “in this moment now, choose love and not fear”. One must develop a certain ability to remain steady and present as the mind and body cycle through, and release these old fears up and out of the system. This was the case for me. I have found that meditation can be helpful in cultivating that level of concentration in the present moment as well.
My experiences have also included, "letting go of", or completing issues from the past. This usually involved reaching out to apologize or address an issue that I had failed to address earlier. Sometimes this was as far back as my childhood. It took courage and humility to take these steps, but it was also letting go of a huge mental burden. Many times I kept putting things on the “back burner” of my mind, hoping I’d never have to deal with it, but I have found that it’s better to be honest about what’s bothering me and look at it head on. As embarrassing, or scary as it can be to address these things, it always feels better. In many cases, the people I reached out to weren’t even impacted in the way I thought, and sometimes laughed and said “Oh, that was no big deal”!! It still brought healing and opened up an opportunity for a new relationship.
There is no need to "push away" negative emotions. Rest in awareness.
There are times when "negative" emotions can be messengers of important lessons. While this article focuses on how to release, and observe thoughts and emotions that can lead to chronic stress. The goal is to develop the ability to observe and simply be aware of these thoughts and emotions without allowing them to control our actions, or nervous system responses. The goal, is to develop the ability to be aware of difficult emotions, and thought patterns without the need to react. This is not the same as dismissing them, or suppressing them. It is important to listen to our emotions and make changes when necessary. For example, if a person is in an abusive relationship, it may be entirely appropriate to experience some anger, frustration or sadness, while at the same time taking steps to change the situation. I realize that this can be a subtle distinction, I have found that the key is moving forward in a way that is kind, and compassionate and not impulsive, or reactive. I have noticed that many times these intense emotions can be signals for ways that I need to more deeply understand myself and make changes, or adjust my perspectives.
This is a more secular overview, however this process may also involve processing spiritual beliefs, connection to the Universe and the Creator, the Earth, nature and more.
Ultimately much of this healing process in my experience seemed to also involve moving from a place of "doing", and back to a place of "BEing", and learning to trust in the present moment. When more trauma is let go of, I have found that it’s easier to just BE and be comfortable with exactly who I AM.
I hope this provides some helpful ideas. This is a very basic overview of what can be a fairly involved topic. I hope to share more in future blogs, please let me know if you have any other questions about this.