A Two-Step Strategy for Clearing Mental Clutter
A yogi friend of mine once told me, "The body truth goes ahead of the mind lie." When we dither over a decision, our intellect tries to gain the upper hand, shouting, You'd better be sure! Keep your options open! Have you considered the legal implications? and so on. Fortunately, our bodies patiently persist in telling the truth. All we have to do is listen. Here's how.
1. Think of a time you said yes to something you later regretted. Vividly remember the moment you made the decision. What were you feeling, physically? Did your gut churn? Did your hands feel cold? Did your feet get hot? Even small sensations are significant. Describe them here (choose print above for a version you can write on):
2. Next, think of a time you said no to something and later wished you'd said yes. What physical feelings did you have while you were making that choice?
3. Now recall a time you said no and were later relieved that you'd passed on what would have been a bad experience. What were you feeling physically when you made that choice?
4. Finally, remember a time you said yes to something that turned out to be a great choice. How did you feel, physically, when you were making that choice?
Generally, the sensations of an unwise decision will be consistent, whether your choice was yes or no. A wise yes or no will also have a consistent "body truth." Focus on these sensations until you can tell them apart.
Now think of a decision you're making today—where to buy yogurt, whether to change religions, and so forth. Feel which choice your body wants to make. Thinking about that option will ease your shoulders, open your lungs. The opposite choice will close you up like a clam. Once you're able to sense these feelings, go on to step two.
Getting Unstuck: Step Two
Check in with yourself: Does your life feel meaningful and on-purpose at this moment? If the answer is yes, your energy is invested in living your best life. But to the extent that you feel misery, your energy is asking to be reinvested. Misery literally means "the feeling of being a miser." If you're miserable, stop hoarding your life energy. Spend it now! Make a choice, any choice. If you're still miserable, you can choose again. Eventually, you'll see that all misery is simply life asking you to trade your current course of action—or inaction—for something purposeful and true.
"Are you in earnest?" says my dog-eared copy of Faust. "Seize this very minute. What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it." This doesn't mean you'll never misstep. It means that when you trade indecision for choice, you'll be rewarded with either success or education. Guaranteed.
Feed your mind, but feel your heart. Trust in your truth. It will be the best investment you'll ever make.
Martha Beck's latest book is The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self (The Open Field).