Updated: Nov 20, 2021
Most of us think and move the same thoughts and movements day after day, year after year. If we don't take a hot minute to check in with where our body and mind is going, we can be misguided by our own selves.
Part of my job is to assess how people move and figure out what's contributing to their pain, stiffness or disability. Understanding what people do repeatedly is essential because it adds up, so it matters. How are you sitting at your desk; are you crossing your left foot over the right all the time? Are you constantly reaching forward for your mouse? Are you shrugging your shoulders when you are very busy and in a rush? If you love to run, are you only running and not doing any other form of mobility work? Are you landing on your toes all the time and never using your ankle joint to the full potential? If you go to the gym, are you only working out your chest muscles and not your upper back muscles? Are you hyperextending your knees with leg extensions... etc, etc. Essentially, once we are aware, we can catch ourselves, then switch it up.
The same goes for our thoughts, yet because our thoughts are invisible, it is easy to forget about their importance. Thoughts are hard to observe, but critical to pay attention to... especially if we want to change the narrative. We think thousands of thoughts per day (whether we want to or not, whether we realize them or not) most of which are the same theme of thoughts from the day before. Our brain doesn't filter the negative or distinguish the true from the false, it just processes them. For this reason, it is up to us to pay attention to what we are constantly telling ourselves, because if we don't, well... you become your thoughts that you don't even know you have, how fun is that?
Personally, I don't think it matters how you get in tune with your thoughts, whether its meditation, tuning in while running, cycling, journaling, cooking, whatever! What's important is that we do it, and sometimes it is helpful to write them down and then replace or correct.
I tried meditating a long time ago but had given up because I thought I sucked because I was thinking too much (many of you can probably relate). Little did I know, this is OKAY, its actually perfectly normal to get lost in our thoughts because that's what the brain is designed to do. Our thoughts are always racing through our minds, they don't care if were paying attention. However, the cool thing with meditation is that it allows us to be aware of our narrative, it allows us to observe the story we are constantly telling ourselves. Then, without judgement we can choose; choose to let go of, hold onto, or replace. This takes practice, patience and daily self awareness, but because the brain is so adaptive, by re-wiring our thoughts, we can change the way we BE.
The concept of thought monitoring is critical to us all, as well as people who are living in pain. Someone living with persistent pain may have a thought pattern that goes something like this: I lifted a load of laundry and heard a creaking in my knees... "f*** how am I ever going to be able to do anything if I can't even lift a load of laundry, I'm so tired of being in pain, I can't do this anymore, I need to sit before I make things worse, I'm going to end up like my grandmother who was in a wheelchair..." This is a simplified example of how one negative thought perpetuates another. This repeats day in and day out. These thoughts, true or false, negative or positive, influence this person either way and will dictate how they live.
So let's get in tune, let's pay attention to our inner world, because it is up to us.
It is up to you.