The single unit made up of your body and mind — your body/mind — knows what it needs at any given moment. If you listen to it, it will let you know what you should do and not do. If you get the notion that smoking a cigarette would feel great, don’t be merely reactive; give yourself a moment to hear what your body/mind has to say on the subject. Your heart, lungs, and other vital organs will you very quickly to shelve that idea for the duration. Consider taking a walk instead; your body/mind will be able to get behind that project in a heartbeat.
But what about when the brain gets hijacked by habit energy — the powerful pull of addiction? Many toxic substances, such as tobacco, scenes of violence, hate-drenched conversations and the like, can subvert the mind’s ability to protect itself. When these demand your attention, it’s time to return to conscious breathing, your harbor in a storm. Just a few moments of breathing in full awareness is a highly dependable way of subverting the subversion of habit energy.
Breathing in, I calm myself;
Breathing out, I smile.
Solid, free, and lucid,
In the Ultimate I dwell.
This gatha can serve as a powerful mantra (“that which protects the mind”) to bring you back to yourself and help you regain solid footing. Silently “say” the first line on your in-breath, the second on the following out-breath, and so on. After a few repetitions, you’ll find your breathing slowing and deepening; you’ll feel more solid, relaxed and happy. Fully oxygenating your body/mind is a deeply healing process.
It’s excellent to occasionally shut down the critical faculties of your prefrontal cortex and return to instinct-driven patterns. On any given day, we think too much; this has been our strength as a species but can also be our undoing. I recommend a period of deep meditation daily to give your overworked prefrontal lobe a much-needed rest. Afterwards, you’ll be able to tackle all the tasks that require critical thinking and analysis with renewed vigor and effectiveness.