Visualizing Lemonade Instead of Lemons

Sometimes when I have done presentations I like to use a meditation to make a point.  It goes something like this. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Imagine that I am going to the refrigerator.  I open the door and open one of the smaller drawers. I take out something roundish and yellow. I look at it carefully, noting the vibrant color, the dimpled skin.  I rub my fingers over the slightly bumpy surface, immersing myself in the texture. I hold the object to my nose and gently inhale. I put it on the cutting board and slice it in half.  I watch as droplets of juice squirt from it. I take one half to my mouth and sink my teeth into it. At this point usually everyone in the class grimaces or shudders. I do not have to tell you it is a lemon.  And you do not have to bite into a real lemon to experience the sensation of actually biting a real lemon. Your mind and body will respond to what you are visualizing just as it would to the actual behavior.   This is a powerful example of how we react physiologically to what we think about.  Are you aware of what your mind is usually thinking about? Have you considered that if you are in a bad mood, that you may be thinking unpleasant thoughts?  Did you know that you can change your mood by changing the channel in your mind? I was just wondering…………………..

I want to illustrate to you the powerful effect your mind has on your body. For instance, in Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder), individuals respond to stimuli in very diverse ways.  One personality may be allergic to poison ivy, while another is not. One personality may be diabetic, yet others are not! Even more compelling, handwriting is different depending on the personality in control. These differences are accounted for by the differing belief systems in each of the personalities.  This is also illustrative of the power of the mind!

Other studies have demonstrated the physiological response of our bodies to events that we look at or watch, even though we are not physically participating.  Blood pressure and heart rate responses have been measured to be similar to those actually participating in the events. Even photos of emotionally expressive individuals can elicit a similar feeling and physiological response to the individual in the photo.  It is our ability to be empathic that allows us to connect to another in a similar feeling state. We are able to feel their pain or their joy. We share a similar physiological response with them. My mother and I always used to cry at weddings, sharing in thought the emotional joy of those at the altar.  Just seeing it in someone else could elicit in us the overwhelming happiness observed in the couple. There are innumerable daily events when we experience a reaction like this. It may come from the smile of a baby, which transports us to the same place, or the sadness in a loved one, which makes us sad too.  Our observation of these events affects our physiological bodies in ways similar to which we would respond if the event had occurred directly to us!

But here is the crux of the matter.  Even when we are not watching anything, reading anything, talking to someone, or participating in anything outside of ourselves, these same physiological responses are still going on.  They are reactions to what we are thinking about! If we spend our days entertaining ourselves with negative thoughts, then this will affect our immune systems in a negative way, and we will feel unhappy, perhaps helpless, maybe angry.  If we focus on positive thoughts and opportunities, then our immune systems will remain balanced and we will feel happy, fulfilled. When something bad or annoying happens, make a joke of it and laugh. When I had abdominal surgery years ago, my roommate and I laughed at everything, including our pathetic helpless situations!  We laughed when nurses didn’t come and we both laughed ourselves right back to healing! A friend called me this morning and in the middle of a trying work day, she stopped at Starbucks for a coffee and on her way out the door, the person ahead of her let the door slam into her and her coffee spilled all over her into her underwear!  She called me and we both laughed. Learn to see life as an adventure that will always have a new episode. See the humor in the human experience. Especially laugh at yourself!

So when you find yourself thinking of figurative lemons, quickly change the channel to one with happy thoughts and positive outcomes. Try to find the humor in the human condition.  Understand that your physiological body is reacting to your thoughts, so that in order to experience homeostasis and health, it is important to rebalance as quickly as possible. We will all have moments of sadness, disappointment.  Try to make them as short as possible. Are you willing to practice this to make your life better? I was just wondering………………………

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