Changing the way you feel and think

Most of the time I write stories which I hope will touch your heart in some way, as well as offer some learning.

This issue I would like to write and explain how I and my colleagues work with clients using the Seishindo process.

I’m changing my writing style today for several reasons. First I’m excited by the work we do and the wonderful results we get, and thus I’d like to spread the enthusiasm around some. Second, I want to help you understand a little bit about what working with Seishindo can be like. Third, I hope you’ll begin to have a greater appreciation for the wisdom of your body.
By learning how to make simple, subtle changes in the way you use your body and breathe, you can create profound change in the way you react to circumstances and relationships.

* * *

When you feel stuck in emotional upheaval, you’ll likely find you’re system is overheated and going too fast. At such times your experience is being driven by your verbal left brain and your sympathetic nervous system. All of which will lead you to have “fight or flight” responses to the events and relationships you’re concerned about. I liken this to driving at high speed on a highway, not knowing how to take your foot off the gas so you can ease into a scenic rest stop along the way.

When you’re in the fast lane of endless anxiety and upheaval you need to have a way to slow down your entire system. Slowing down let’s your system know it’s safe and helps your right brain become more active. Add in a few deep breaths and you’ll discover you have greater access to your parasympathetic nervous system. Once this process is begun, you can better connect to your natural ability to rest, rejuvenate, and heal.

Let me describe a “typical” session, in which I help a client (whom I will call “Ellen”) change her emotional responses to the events and relationships that have been overwhelming her.

First I ask Ellen to take three deep breaths. This is the beginning point of most every Seishindo intervention.
I notice she rushes through the breathing process and doesn’t really breathe all that deeply. This is quite common.
I thus ask her to take another three deep breaths…

Next I help Ellen to adjust her posture.
Almost all clients will be leaning backwards somewhat, and they will tend to be at least a little bit slumped over with their shoulders rounded inward.
When her posture is adjusted to be more open and balanced, Ellen reports “feeling unnatural, and leaning forward”. This is exactly what most clients say.
I explain that her current posture is actually more natural than her usual posture, but it feels strange because it’s new and different.

Almost every client unconsciously defaults back to their habitual posture within a minute or two, because good or bad, our habits are very powerful. Ellen does the same.
Thus, numerous times during the rest of our session, I gently remind her to once again open up and rebalance her posture.

Next, I say, “Tell me three physical sensations you’re aware of now, while taking a deep breath after naming each sensation.”
Ellen says, “My shoulders are tense, I have a slight headache, and my mouth feels dry.”
This lets me know she is concentrating on “a half empty glass of water”. By over-focusing on her problem, she fails to notice what is working well for her.
The less she notices about what’s OK, the larger her perceived problem will appear. After all, if you can only feel what’s “off” you must really be in bad shape! Yes?

Hopefully over time, she’ll begin to notice that although she might be upset or in pain, there are parts of her that feel quite alright. This is an important learning. Every experience holds within it, some “positive” and some “negative”. Life is like that.

As I continue to guide Ellen to maintain a more open and balanced posture, I ask her what it is she’s come to work on. I ask her to make the simplest statement possible, about what she would like to be different.
Ellen states what she no longer wants, rather than stating what she does want. She says, “I want to feel less stressed.”, rather than saying “I want to feel calm and relaxed.”

It’s fine for the time being that she states what she wants in negative terms. It shows me she’s wanting to “move away from” or avoid what she doesn’t want, rather than moving towards what she does want. This is important to know.

Surely, after all these words, it’s time to take three deep breaths…

Next, I ask Ellen to state her intention again.
After she does so I ask “What feels most natural to you now?” “Does your body feel like it wants to move front to back or from side to side?”
She’s uncertain, so I ask her to try both movements and choose whichever one seems most natural at the moment.
After she answers by moving front to back, I once again ask her to take three deep breaths…

Now I ask her to state her intention again.
After she does so I ask her another question. “What feels most natural to you now?” “Does your trunk and head feel like they most want to rotate in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction?”
She answers me by rotating her trunk in a counterclockwise manner, and I once again ask her to take three deep breaths…

Next, I ask Ellen to move and rotate in a manner that is opposite to the habit pattern she has just exhibited.
I ask her to now move from side to side while rotating her trunk and head in a clockwise direction.
Once she moves in this new way for about thirty seconds, I ask her to take three deep breaths while continuing her movement.

As she continues to move in this new pattern, I ask her to once again state her initial intention.
Her experience at this point is suddenly perplexing for her, but common to many clients. She finds herself unable to state her initial intention while maintaining her new pattern of movement and rotation!

What is happening here?
Ellen is accessing a physical/emotional state with her movement, rotation, and breath, that is contrary to her habit pattern. She winds up having a first hand experience of how she initiates the way she thinks and feels, by the way she uses her body and breathes.
She moves and breathes one way when feeling stuck. She moves and breathes quite differently when feeling empowered.
This in itself is a wonderful learning, and it’s important that she now once again takes three deep breaths, so her learning can really settle into her system.

Now I ask Ellen to revert back to a place of stillness.
Once she is still, I ask her to imagine she’s already achieved the intention she came to work on.
She had started out saying “I want to feel less stressed” and now she states, “I am relaxed and confident.”
After making her new statement, I ask her to take three deep breaths, and then begin to move and rotate in her newly learned pattern.

After she’s moving side to side and counterclockwise for about thirty seconds or so, I ask her to repeat her statement of accomplishment.
Then, as she continues to move in her new pattern while breathing fully….
I ask her to deconstruct her statement of accomplishment, by adding a nice full breath in between each word.
“I… am… feeling… relaxed… and… confident…” (With lots of space between the words.)
As she continues to move and breathe, I have her repeat her deconstructed statement once again…

Next I ask her to play with the intonation of her words.
All spoken much slower than usual, and with three deep breaths in between each statement.
“I am feeling relaxed and confident.”
“I AM feeling relaxed and confident.”
“I am FEELING relaxed and confident.”
“I am feeling RELAXED and CONFIDENT.”

Ellen reports feeling calm and settled. She says, “Wow, amazing that I can have such a big shift in the way I feel, even though it seems like I have done so little.”
Doing “a little” but changing “a lot” is the hallmark of a good session.
Had Ellen not felt complete, we would have gone through the whole process a second time.

I now ask Ellen what she’s learned.

Afterwards I explain the following to her:
Change your posture and breathing and your perception changes.
Change your perception and your feeling changes.
Change your feeling and your thinking and talking change.
Change your thinking and talking and your emotional state changes.
Change your emotional state and your actions change.

I make it clear how important it is to begin at the beginning, and work one’s way down through the entire process, as we have just done together.

Variations on a theme (To help deal with the widest possible range of learning styles.)

Specific body sensations
I ask the client to name a location in their body that feels the most uneasy when they make their initial statement of intention.
I then ask them to gently rub or massage that place as they make their statement of intention once again.

I then ask them to imagine the uneasy place in their body making a statement of what it wants.
We then work with that intention as we go through the process above, and they continue to soothe themselves with their hands.

Moving towards or away (With visual input)
On a flip chart or white board, I write down their initial statement of intention “I want to feel less stressed”.
I move their words closer to them and ask them how they feel.
Most people will report feeling more ill at ease.
I then move their words farther away and again ask them how they feel.
Most people wind up reporting they feel a tiny bit better with the words further away. Some say “The further away the better.”

I now ask the client to make their statement of intention in positive terms.
I write down their words “I am feeling calm and confident.” and again move the words closer to them and then further away.
Most clients wind up feeling a bit more at ease when the words are closer. (Assuming of course I don’t move the board so close that they feel their personal space has been invaded.)
I then ask the client which they feel will be the most beneficial for them in the long run.
Making a negative framed statement and moving the words further away from them in their minds eye.
Imagining a positively framed statement and moving the words closer.
Almost everyone chooses a positively framed statement.
I then adjust the words in front of them until we get to a “just right” distance.
I then ask them to practice doing the same thing in their mind’s eye. They move the words back and forth in their imagination, until they get a “just right” feeling.
There is a third important variation called “Surround Sound” and I will explain this in our next newsletter.

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