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This reminds me a lot of the "freeze frame" tool in The Heart Math Solution, which I find very helpful. This tool consists of 5 steps you can do in about 20 seconds or longer if you need. I highly recommend purchasing the book by Doc Childre and Howard Martin. Here are the steps to try this out when in a stressful/negative experience.
1. Recognize the stressful feeling, and FREEZE-FRAME it. Take a time-out.
2. Make a sincere effort to shift your focus away from the racing mind or disturbed emotions to the area around your heart. You can pretend that you're breathing through your heart to help focus your energy in this area. Keep your focus there for ten seconds or more.
3. Recall a positive, fun feeling or time you've had in life and attempt to re-experience it.
4. Now, using your intuition, common sense and sincerity - ask your heart, what would be a more efficient response to the situation, one that will minimize future stress?
5. Listen to what your heart says in answer to your question. It's an effective way to put your reactive mind, and emotions in check - and an "in-house" source of common sense solutions.
Within each moment, we have the choice, the opportunity, the power to shift our perceptions. We do not have to be taken over by our brain's survival tendency to focus on the negative.
We can actually use our heart's intelligence and intuition to become more authentic, calm, and present in each moment. And luckily, as scientific research has proven, neuro-plasticity does in fact occur and the brain can change. Neuro-pathways formed through past traumas and negative experiences do not have to control our experience of the present moment forever.
We are not stuck. The change does take dedicated focus, self-acceptance, and care for ourselves. It is not always easy but the possibility is before us and there are many tools to help us along the path. More to come on these topics.
Katie Hall, MA, ATR-BC, LPAT, LPCC, is an artist and art therapist with a master's in art therapy and counseling from Southwestern College in New Mexico. As an art therapist, Katie works with individuals struggling with addictions, PTSD, schizophrenia, depression, and developmental disabilities in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She focuses on improving quality of life, empowerment, and guiding clients to reach a deeper understanding of self through art expression. Her current interest is on continuing to explore the uses of stop motion animation as a mindfulness-based technique. She is passionate about sharing the healing powers of art making with community.