OUR FOUR CAR TRAIN Think about this. When you feel stress in one part of you, you will have stress in all parts of you. Imagine a small train of four cars chugging along. You are that train. The train cars are the reactions of your body, emotions, thoughts, and desires.
If one “car”—one reaction—gets stressed and negative or “jumps the track,” the other three will follow. For example, when you feel stress in your body, check your emotions, thoughts, and desires. I promise you they will be stressed and negative, too.
Do you want a simple, but effective way to keep yourself "on track?" The secret rests with how well you self-monitor and manage those four reactions: body (stress), emotions, thoughts, desires.
Consider this 30 second exercise that reminds you to stay aware of your present moment reactions and relax. Doing this exercise thorough out the day can help you manage your four “cars” well and get back on track if necessary.
SOME EXAMPLES You're at a business meeting and you remember to be present and relax, so you take 30 seconds to scan your body,discovering that your jaw is tight and your mind is racing because soon it will be your turn to speak.. so you take three deep breaths and relax your jaw, neck, and shoulders. In this case, you manage your body to get all your "cars" back on track
Or, it is breakfast time. You are eating your toast and feeling anxious about your teenager who broke curfew last night. Right then you are reminded to come back to the present moment. So you stop, label your emotions (fear and anger) and spend the next 30 seconds breathing and relaxing your body. In this example, instead of going off the track with anxiety and anger, you interrupt your negative emotions, let go of them, and shift to a more productive way of handling the situation.
- While talking to a friend, you remind yourself to take some slow breaths, quiet your mind, and stop your thoughts about the time you have to get back home. Instead, you're prompted to just listen to him/her. What do you think will happen? What do you think will change within and outside yourself? For sure, you will be more intimate and available with this friend.
--Your partner is criticizing you. You want to get away and avoid an argument at any cost. Instead, you take some deep breaths and remind yourself to speak the truth with kindness. Your desire to resolve the problem is greater than your need to be right. Quietly you ask him or her to listen to your side of the story.
IT’S NOT ALWAYS EASY TO DO It is probably hard to do this 30-second exercise every minute of the day; however, doing it every hour may not be farfetched. Is this too much? Can you take 30 seconds to scan yourself and bring your mind back to the moment you are presently living and experiencing?
It is true that sometimes things come at us so fast and furious they cannot be easily managed. However, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain if we train ourselves to manage our body, emotions, thoughts, and desires well.
SOME TIPS Here are some tips to help you get the best out of every 30-second exercise:
- Body: Pay attention to your posture. If there is tension somewhere, use slow deep breaths to manage them.
- Emotions: Identify if you are angry, sad, frustrated, happy,stressed, etc. Research shows that simply labeling an emotion takes away some of its power.
- Thoughts: Recognize that you are stewing, rehashing, or making up hurtful ideas and pictures in your mind. Are you dwelling in the past or lost in the future? Use this as a cue to look for possibilities options, and strengths instead.
- Will/Desires: Where are you? Are you trying inappropriately to avoid or control a person, thing, or problem?
Here's a hint. Look for the truth of the situation with compassion for yourself and others. Truth and compassion will always make things better in the long-run.
After checking these 4 things--body, emotion, thoughts, and desires--take a deep breath. You're done. The good news is that if you can be present and more relaxed in one area, the other three will get back on track, also.
YOUR CHOICE No one can force you to do this exercise; there is no sense in that. You must set an intention to do it for a day, every hour of that day, to see what happens... believe me, it is worth it!
In her book, Become the Person You Were Meant to Be - The Choice-Cube Method available on www.amazon.com, Dr. Beth Cujé, therapist gives you more information about the four steps and equips you with tools to take the steps anytime, anywhere. Try this website www.choicecube.com to learn more about what the Choice-Cube Method can do for you.