Occupy Sanity Tool (OST): STOP
I’m sitting here writing this on Day 2 of our “staycation” imposed by the French government and courtesy of the COVID-19. I’m watching my mind and body go from one thought to the next, from one feeling to the next, circling back around and then twisting this way and that. This reminds me of a roller coaster that not only goes up and down but upside down and turns like a corkscrew.
Unlike many people, I have never been a fan of roller coasters. The reality that someone or something else has control of the speed and movement of that car on those little rails is not exciting to me; rather, it’s physically painful and evokes more terror than calm!
“When you can’t control what is happening, challenge yourself to control your response to what’s happening. That is where the power is.”
Take Control to Create A Sense of Calm With Mindfulness
Yet as I consider this ‘ride’ going on inside and outside myself, I see that while I may not be the external ride operator, I am in charge of the internal ride. I do have some tools, including many of the OSTs I have shared with you before. One, in particular, I told you about in Mindfulness: Your GPS to Greater Health is a part of this OST: STOP.
We already know practicing mindfulness has many health benefits. As noted by the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Los Angeles website:
“Several studies have found that after just several weeks of mindfulness training, parts of the brain associated with positive emotion are more active, and areas associated with anxiety are less active. There is also a significant amount of research that has found mindfulness is not only good for psychological health but physical health too, as mindfulness has been found to increase immune system functioning.”
In my case, employing this tool means I’m the operator of the roller coaster ride inside myself, which brings me back to what I can control. I now have the possibility of exiting the seemingly endless ride of terror in my mind.
The idea is to use this tool, which is a mindfulness practice developed by Jon Kabat Zinn, whenever you find yourself escalating into a fear state and thus engaging the flight, fight or freeze response. Perhaps you’re on the verge of letting FEAR drive your car again as I wrote about in How to Mobilize Fear As Your Friend.
How to STOP The Fear Quickly
When you notice yourself going on the roller coaster ride in your mind, say out loud or to yourself STOP! That’s an acronym for:
S: Stop. Take a pause, even if for a moment. Stand or sit still.
T: Take a breath. Or several breaths! Lately, I’ve been using the Box Method, which also has the advantage of clearing my lungs.
Our breath is our life!
O: Observe. Employ all your senses to notice what is happening in and around you.
* What do you see, hear, smell, feel, and taste?
* Feel the ground beneath you.
* What does the seat under you feel like?
* Notice what is happening inside you.
Imagine that all those thoughts are on a roller coaster. Watch it go around and around as a spectator rather than a participant.
P: Proceed. Go back to what you were doing. Or not. Use the information from your pause and observations to inform your next moves. Imagine you’re the operator of that roller coaster pulling the lever or pushing the button to stop that ride.
Repeat as often as is necessary to come back to a more neutral and calm state.
In my experience, when I use this tool throughout the day, I have greater access to my strength, clarity, and flow. This enables me to stay aligned with my Higher Self, where I can hear clearly: All is well or on some days, You Got This!
Let us know your experience with this tool and contact us if you would like some support at email@example.com.