Are You Mentally Chained?
We all like to think of ourselves as being free, free to live as we like, worship as we like, work and play as we like. However, physical freedom is not the same as mental freedom.
What does it mean to be mentally chained? There are many definitions, but I’ll share my own version (from personal experience). To me, it is remaining in a position of small-mindedness, closed to new ideas, and giving in to thoughts of fear, lack, or non-empowering thoughts.The mind is a very powerful tool. Do you recall the phrase “mind over matter?” This phrase relates to mental processes being more powerful than physical processes. Great inventions start with a thought. Healing starts with the mind. Physical manifestations nearly always begin with an idea.
Let’s look at being mentally chained from a standpoint of emotional and physical health. Negative and fearful thoughts are energy. EVERYTHING is energy. Let’s say you are feeling angry about a perceived wrong done to you by someone. You’ve held that anger inside for years. Now, that anger has not harmed the other person, but it has harmed YOU. You’ve made yourself a prisoner to that emotion. It has stayed in your mind, and it has perhaps directed your actions or feelings. Maybe you avoid this person or situation, or act in a hostile way because of that.
What about fear? I can tell you from personal experience that fear has enslaved me most of my life. I avoided public situations because I thought I would be laughed at or ostracized. I didn’t act on my dreams for fear of being seen or, even worse, because I was afraid to fail, and, surprisingly, afraid of success.
I often bought into the idea that I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, or smart enough. I can tell you with utmost honesty that it was an ugly prison to be in.
How does being mentally chained affect one’s health? As you recall, thoughts are energy, as well as the physical body. It is all connected. Anger increases the heart rate, increases blood pressure and pressure on the artery walls, and decreases cortisol (a stress hormone). Fear and anxiety also increase heart rate and blood pressure, as well as causing digestive problems and weakness. Cortisol is released in large amounts as well. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is good in a sudden ‘fight or flight’ response. But chronic, constant stress and anxiety keep the cortisol pumping, stressing the adrenal system. The excess cortisol causes weight gain (mainly abdominal weight), and is said to be a factor in diabetes, and can cause fluctuations in blood sugar, as well as difficulty with insulin production.
How can one release himself from mental imprisonment and the adverse physical effects that result from it? How does one open that prison door and find freedom in mind and body? Here are a few steps I’ve found that are helpful for me:
Meditation – meditation keeps one in the present moment. Fear is connected to the future; anger is connected to the past, as well as depression. Rid yourself of the distractions that keep you in ‘monkey mind’ mode. Pay attention to your thoughts and remain in observation mode. Don’t own them, just observe.
Exercise – physical movement elevates brain neurotransmitters, especially dopamine, which decreases stress and depression. Less stress and depression results in a healthier body and freer mind. While sport is an integral part of island life, not everyone may be able to participate. However, one doesn’t have to be an athlete to be able to move the body.
Question – question authority. Question motives. Question your own ideas. Ask, wonder, and be curious. Sometimes just looking at something or someone in a different way, from another perspective, gives a new insight or idea (which can often lead to profound mental and physical change, as well as a new environment).
Diet – ingest a wide range of whole, natural (preferably organic) foods. Foods that are highly processed and laden with added chemicals can have an effect on the mind, even causing lethargy and depression. This, of course, manifests physically as well, causing lack of energy, poor digestive assimilation, and making it more difficult for the body to extract the little nutrients that are left in the processed foods.
Remove the self-defeating stories that you tell yourself. You know the ones I’m talking about – I’m not good enough, smart enough, handsome enough, pretty enough, strong enough. Use affirmations to re-wire your mind. Empower yourself mentally, be your own hero.
If you are living in bondage of mental chains, perhaps it is time to break free, both in mind and body.
(This is an article I wrote for Charles Mattocks @ reversedmagazine.tk.)
( photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/vshioshvili/6991269001/”>shioshvili</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a> )