Did you know that your body is designed to automatically clear stress and negative feelings? Recent research has shown that it takes your body only 90 seconds to clear the associated neuro-chemicals and neuro-pathways in your body and brain. Your body can reset that quickly, so you can feel refreshed and have a new perspective.
Since reading about that, I've seen it happen with my cat. She likes to attack the side of our living room couch with her claws and she really tears it up. If I yell "No, Cotton!" and spritz her with water, she runs away up the stairs-as if her life is in danger. Then, a minute or two later she'll come sauntering down the stairs as if nothing has happened.
Now, you might say, "That's a great theory and it might work with cats, but my stress and negative moods tend to last much longer than 90 seconds. Once they get triggered, they can change my whole day!"
Let's briefly explore what's happening with us humans-and how it might be different from what a cat does. Then, maybe we can see what to do. If you would, take a moment to think back to one of those moments of stress and bad feeling and observe what happened then...
Perhaps, did you get caught up in mentally replaying and ruminating on an upsetting event? Did you find yourself rehashing what you said and did or what someone else said or did over and over again? Did that event repeat like a bad loop in your brain, torturing you with an escalating inner commentary?
"Why did I do that, I'm so stupid!" or "What was he thinking! I hate when he does that to me!"
As long as you repeat those words in your head, the same neuropathways will fire, the same neurochemicals will continue to release, and you'll continue to think negatively and feel badly.
So, what can you do-as a human?
Knowing the 90-second Rule, you could use it to your advantage. You could take 90 seconds-that's about all it takes, if you do this sincerely-and do three things to clear your mind and body.
Here you're taking cues from my cat. She gets moving right away.
However, if you don't want to scamper up the stairs like a feline, just stand up and stretch. Bad moods tend to round our shoulders forward and hunker us over. So, change your posture. Stretch your arms overhead. Stretch side to side. Then, open your arms out wide and look up.
Now, you're probably already feeling a slight change. You could build on it by taking a walk. Get out of the space you are in, change the scenery, and move your body a bit more.
Take several slow deep breaths, imagining that your whole body is filling up as you inhale and your whole body is emptying as you exhale. Consciously let go of the situation as you breathe out with a big sigh: "Haaahhhhh." You might do that a few times to make sure.
Now, you're feeling even a bit better. Your body is beginning to reset.
3. Entertain a new thought
Recognize the thoughts that were plaguing you. Notice how you were interpreting the situation. You can do this by observing the words in your head. Notice how those words made you feel.
See if you can do this without judging yourself, or your thoughts, as good or bad. Just recognize what you were thinking. Then, release it by acknowledging that it's just a thought, just one way of looking at things, just one possible neural pathway in your brain-it's not who you are! Since it's just a thought, you can choose to let it go.
Now, you have space to entertain a new thought. One amazing ability we have as humans is to be able to look at the same situation in a number of different ways!
If you take 90-seconds to do any one of the above--or all three-I think you'll be amazed at how your body takes over and clears away stress and bad feeling. Then, if you find it coming back again, you can simply repeat.
Enjoy your practice!