The 90 Second Rule

When I first heard Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor say on the Oprah Show a few years back that if we allow ourselves to feel an emotion in our body, the emotion runs through our body in 90 seconds, I didn’t believe her!  (Jill Bolte Taylor is a Harvard-trained and published neuroanatomist and author of My Stroke Of Insight who experienced a severe hemorrhage in the left hemisphere of her brain in 1996.)

Fast forward a couple of years to Geneen Roth’s Women Food and God retreat in California.  Geneen repeatedly told our audience of over 200 women that we need to get in touch with our bodies and FEEL our emotions and that experiencing them in our body takes less than a couple of minutes. Again, I doubted the reality of this perspective. After all, I had gone through a painful divorce years ago which left me devastated for months, not just 90 seconds!

However, one day while at the retreat I was feeling a sadness that I couldn’t figure out with my rational thinking mind. I wrote about it, I did The Work (Byron Katie), I sent out a request to the universe to help me understand my sadness.  The sadness remained.  Finally, I decided to follow Geneen’s suggestion to just FEEL the emotion in my body without having to figure it out. I sat by a little waterfall and brought my attention to my internal body. I felt and saw a shape and color to my sadness, a dark grayish cloud shape as I recall. My gut felt raw, my heart ached, and I wanted to hunch over to protect my heart.

As I watched and experienced the sensations from my observing self, emotion rose and I cried, briefly. Then the shape and color of the sadness changed and moved out of my body. The tears and sadness ended. The body sensation of sadness had moved through and out of my body.  I felt at peace in 90 seconds!!!

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor says, “When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90 second chemical process that happens in the body; after that, any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop. Something happens in the external world and chemicals are flushed through your body which puts it on full alert. For those chemicals to totally flush out of the body it takes less than 90 seconds.”

“We can all learn that we can take full responsibility for what thoughts we are thinking and what emotional circuitry we are feeling. Knowing this and acting on this can lead us into feeling a wonderful sense of well-being and peacefulness. Whether it is my fear circuitry or my anger circuitry or even my joy circuitry – it is really hard to hold a good belly laugh for more than 90 seconds naturally. The 90-second rule is totally empowering. That means for 90 seconds, I can watch this happen, I can feel this happen and I can watch it go away. After that, if I continue to feel that fear or feel that anger, I need to look at the thoughts I am thinking that are re-stimulating that circuitry that is resulting in me having this physiology over and over again.”

So many of my friends, family and life coaching clients tell me they are not sleeping well because they are “re-hashing” or “worrying” about someone or something in the middle of the night.  If the 90 Second Rule holds true, and I believe it does, what keeps us awake (or sad, angry, frustrated….) is our Story and not the actual feeling associated with the person or situation.

Are you running some of the same stories that cause you stress or upset? Would you like to share? How about sitting with the Feeling/Emotion to let it run its course through your body? Not enough time? (That’s often my excuse!) Take 90 Seconds for yourself!

Whose Business Are You In?

What a relief!  This message brings to mind Byron Katie’s thoughts on Whose Business Are You In?  Here is what she has to say. (It’s definitely worth reading!)

Whose Business Are You In? (Byron Katie)

Notice when you hurt that you are mentally out of your business.

If you’re not sure, stop and ask, “Mentally, whose business am I in?”

There are only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours, and God’s.

Whose business is it if an earthquake happens? God’s business.

Whose business is it if your neighbor down the street has an ugly lawn? Your neighbor’s business.

Whose business is it if you are angry at your neighbor down the street because he has an ugly lawn? Your business.

Life is simple—it is internal.

Count, in five minute intervals, how many times you are in someone else’s business mentally. Notice when you give uninvited advice or offer your opinion about something (aloud or silently).

Ask yourself: “Am I in their business? Did they ask me for my advice?” And more importantly, “Can I take the advice I am offering and apply it to my life?”

When I am tempted to give unsolicited advice or when I am worried about what is happening in another person’s life, I ask myself, “Whose business am I in?” Most often it isn’t mine! I feel torn between the desire to share my wisdom (Ha!) to be of help while also acknowledging that it’s not my life or my business. If I am asked for advice, I may give it but I have found that giving advice that hasn’t been requested is typically met with resistance. I also discovered that when I give advice or share self-help materials without being asked, the message is, “You need fixing. I can help.”  This stems from my belief (that I haven’t shaken completely) that I Need Fixing, so I project that belief onto others. It damages relationships and sets us apart.  Stay in my own business. Heal my own life.  Respect others enough to do their own work.  Anna Martinson, Life Coach.

“When you think that someone or something other than yourself needs to change, you’re mentally out of your business.” Byron Katie

 

Happiness Isn’t Peace!

 

baby                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           A few days ago I read an article by Eckart Tolle on Happiness and Peace. He suggested that when many people are searching for happiness, what they truly desire is peace. “It’s a state of heightened aliveness, when we become more conscious rather than less, and this requires an awareness of the kinds of thoughts that habitually go through your mind.” (Eckart Tolle)

In the past I often made a list of what I wanted in my life, “Happiness” was on my list. When thinking of what I wanted for my children, I wanted them to be happy. Now Peace Of Mind takes priority. Happiness is fleeting/temporary. I am happy that my family is coming to visit. I am unhappy that rabbits ate all my lettuce. When at peace with that inner deeper level inside, the emotional highs and lows do not occur.

Three years ago I was experiencing ecstatic happiness when I received a call that my first grandchild had just entered this world. I hung up the phone with great excitement and joy followed immediately by the thought that I wanted to call my mom to tell her that her first great-grandchild had just been born. I burst into tears and sadness when I couldn’t call my mom because she had passed away one year earlier. Even in the midst of my grief I was aware of how the intensity of my emotions had changed in an instant.

I seek peace of mind. When happiness enters my life, fantastic! When unhappiness enters, I try very hard to accept what it. Byron Katie said “When I argue with reality, I lose but only 100% of the time!”  When my coaching clients are stuck in a repeating negative thought, together we delve into the thought, questioning its truth and how that thought plays out in their life. Often there is a recurring pattern or behavior that a client wants to change yet they are unable to stick with it. Here the old negative thoughts are over-riding the good intention for change. Once old thoughts are released, new behavior is possible.

I had been in the pattern of thinking “I will be happy when (I lose weight, I have enough money, my kids are happy, I have the job of my dreams). My thoughts were taking me away from the present moment, projecting into a future that may or may not match my expectations. This movie, as Tolle calls it, is not reality.”You can’t see the present. You’re too busy with where you want to be next or where you were, which causes stress. The only solution is awareness, awareness that the voice in your head is really just repeating thoughts – no more, no less.”   Thich

The question I ask myself is this, “Am I going to read about, study, go to more courses on being at peace OR and I going to Stop, sit down and BE at peace?” I know how to do it. I know how calming it feels to be still in the present moment. All is well in my world when I sit in peace. So, another question for me is “Why do I often think it’s more important to accomplish tasks than to BE present in peace?”  What pulls you away from BEING in the present moment? What thoughts enter your mind?  I would love to hear!

 

 

 

“I’m dying.” Is it True?

Recently a woman I know who is living with cancer told another woman she just met that she is dying. She has been living with cancer for 3+ years now and has many more days/months ahead of living her life.  I hadn’t questioned the belief of dying until I was at the 9 day Byron Katie School of The Work.  During one large group session a man stood up to tell Katie his story before doing The Work with her.  As a part of his introductory story, he said “My dad is dying.”  Katie interrupted him and asked, “Is it true? Is your dad dying?” He replied “Yes!” and then shared his father’s medical condition.  Katie responded, “We are either alive or we are not. In my experience people are living until they are not.” Katie then asked the man, “Is your dad dying?” After thoughtful contemplation he replied “No” and then continued with his story.

This was such a brief exchange but I found it profound. It inspired me to question my own idea of “dying” to discover that I agree with Katie. When I look at someone who tells me they are dying, I see a person who is alive and still full of life force. We are alive until we are not! About a year ago a good friend with terminal cancer said to me, “I need to get everything in order because I’m dying.” My response was, “You look very much alive to me!” And is it true, do we need to get everything in order? Is it possible to get all things in order?

What other beliefs do we carry that could be questioned? “She’s lazy.” “He should get a job.”  “I don’t have enough money.” What beliefs would you be willing to look at today?

It Shouldn’t Snow in May!

  Yesterday I was listening to a CD by Martha Beck, Life Coach, reminding us to Question our Thoughts. Are they honestly true?  Byron Katie, Loving What Is,  also comes to mind. I can hear her ask the question “Is it true?”

Snow is falling. It’s May in Wisconsin. I do not recall ever seeing it snow here in May. “It shouldn’t be snowing! It’s May! My daffodils and tulips will freeze!”  Is it true? No. The truth is that it is snowing and therefore it should be. Two days ago it was 81 degrees. As I worked in my yard for a couple of hours on that warm day, I was feeling a little tension while noticing how much (I thought) needed to be done in my gardens, in addition to raking the lawn, cleaning up puppy poop and reseeding bare areas. Today my entire yard and gardens are covered with snow. All looks clean and still. There is nothing to be done but watch the gorgeous snow fall.