We continued our discussion of thought errors, but before we got to that, one of the facilitators led us on a guided imagery meditation where we visualized a safe place to go to when we are feeling insecure. I envisioned my safe place as a room filled with books and with a big comfortable chair. It had a window to a garden and plenty of sunlight flooding into the room.
When we came out of the meditation, we discussed our goals we set for ourselves last week and whether we had achieved them. I am pleased that I not only reached my goal of three 30-minute power walks this week, but I exceeded that by doing an hour and a half working in the garden on one day and several yoga sessions at home. Furthermore, I did a meditation each day this past week with some of them reaching 30 minutes. The point that the facilitator stressed was that we need to pick small goals that we can reach and perhaps exceed. And I did! Woo-hoo.
The facilitator led us on another short meditation. We were asked to close our eyes and mentally scan our bodies in order to pinpoint any places where we had pain, discomfort, or tension. I felt some tension in my shoulders and upper back. Then the facilitator instructed us to ask these body parts the following questions: Why are you here? What can I learn from you? When are you going away? and How can we live together more peacefully? Then we were asked to write down the answers that came to mind when we asked ourselves those questions. Here is what my shoulders and back said to me:
You need to listen to us when we speak. We’re trying to tell you to relax and let go. We won’t go away and stop bothering you until you do.
The point of this exercise was to demonstrate that our bodies do react when we fall into erroneous thinking patterns and that we can learn from those physical reactions to determine what we can do to change.
We finally got to our discussion of thought errors which we had started last week. The facilitator instructed us on how to use a “thought journal” to analyze and correct thought errors. Basically, the thought journal helps one break down a stressful situation into emotional, mental and physical reactions with the result of developing a plan to overcome those reactions. Here are the components of a journal entry:
1) Situation and Trigger: What triggered this?
2) Emotions: How did this situation nmake you feel?
3) Physical Symptoms: How did your body feel in this situation?
4) Thought Errors: What di you say to yourslef in this moment?
5) Behaviors: What did you do during or after this situation?
6) Looking Back: What evidence supports these thoughts? What is the evidence that these thoughts may be true? Are these thoughts helping or hurting you?
7) Healthier Thoughts: Healthier thoughts are true, helpful, and compassionate. What are your healthier thoughts (for this situation)?
8) New Plan: What could you do differently to feel better?
The facilitator asked the group if anyone had a situation to share to which we could apply this analysis. A woman shared a situation which was causing her to feel hopeless and helpless to change the situation. She analyzed this situation by asking these questions and she was able to realize that she WOULD eventually overcome the problem. Nothing we discussed changed her situation, but it did change her thinking about it and thus her adverse emotional and physical reactions. It was pretty amazing. The facilitator encouraged us to develop our own Thought Journal and start working in it this week.
We ended the evening with a quick overview of a mini-relaxtion called Conscious Choice which is basically taking a situation that is causing erroneous thinking and applying these steps: Stop (an erroneous thought), Breathe (to interrupt the stress symptom cycle), Reflect (on the nature of the erroneous thinking) and Choose (an action to deal with the stress). We ran out of time so we really couldn’t examine this technique too closely. We will do so next week.
All-in-all, a good meeting and I learned some useful techniques. My goal this week is to continue with developing my discipline of walking and meditating. I have started a Wellness journal which will include a place for recording what I eat and a place for my thought journal.
Thanks for stopping by.