Play Melancholy Song (and four easy steps to change your tune)

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Orlando Counseling Providing Anxiety, Trauma and Relationship Therapy

Have you seen the movie Her?  In this movie Theodore is a lonely writer going through a divorce.  This poor guy is so lonely that he ends up falling in love with his computer’s operating system.  At the beginning of the movie, there is an elevator scene where he’s feeling horrible about his life and himself and says to his phone, “Play melancholy song.”

My husband and I use this phrase as an inside joke because sometimes life just feels like a shitty melancholy song.  When life starts to feel like a rerun from this scene, it’s time for me to look at how the system of my thoughts, body, and emotions are contributing to the problem.

Organization of experience means that we use more than our thoughts to process information.  We also use our body and emotions.

This is why when you walk through the perfume section of Dillard's and smell your ex’s perfume, you have a physical response.  If the memory brings up anger, you might feel a little rush of energy and start walking a bit faster. 

Or, if you hear an old song on the radio that reminds you of a carefree moment in your life, you may experience a welling of nostalgic tears and a sense of longing for the long lost moment in time. 

As humans, we use our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations to experience the world.  And in this system, one is always influencing the others. 

If we have core beliefs, such as “I am wanted and loved in this world,” we will organize our body and emotions around this belief. We will walk with a straight back and neck looking directly out into the world and not avoid making eye contact with or smiling at a stranger. Our body will feel relaxed and open and we will have a curiosity about the world rather than fear of it.

Theodore is the epitome of the limiting belief “I am not loveable.”  His head looks like it weighs a thousand pounds barely hanging onto his body by a thread in his neck.  His brow is furrowed and his eyes are longing. Because his energy is so low, it looks as if he is walking with the weight of the world on his shoulders while wading through waste high mud. His body is physically organized around and sustaining the belief of “I am not loveable.”

Generally speaking, if you are someone that experiences anxiety, you may have limiting beliefs similar to “I am not safe.” Rather than too little energy like Theodore, you will have a ton of energy and have a tendency toward hypervigilance, all of which would be a good thing if you truly were not safe and fighting for your life. Here, the body supports and sustains the belief, “I am not safe” by becoming flooded with energy aka anxiety. 

As an anxiety and trauma therapist providing counseling in Orlando, I like to use mindfulness to practice the techniques below will not only bring awareness to your organization of experience, these mindful practices are also tools for daily stress.  

Breath

Notice the breath.  We have a tendency to breathe only chest deep.  Our breath should go all the way down to the diaphragm and fill the up the belly. Not only does breathing deeper regulate the nervous system, the mindfulness involved in paying attention to the breath breaks the cycle of the thoughts. 

Walk

Notice how you walk.  Do you walk through the world like you are stuck in mud or like you are escaping from a fire? Whatever you notice, mindfully change your pace.  Go a little faster or go a little slower.  Notice what happens to your thoughts and emotions as you mindfully change your pace.

Posture

Notice the alignment of your body.  Are you head, shoulders and neck collapsed and heavy? Does your head or chest protrude off the front of your body? Mindfully stack your body starting with your feet, ankles, legs, back, shoulders and head.  Notice how shifting your posture impacts your thoughts, emotions, and the energy distribution in your body.

Connection

The impersonal exchange with the cashier at the grocery store is normally so automatic, “How are you?”  “Good” with absolutely no connection.  Next time you go through the check-out line, notice your willingness to actually make a connection through eye contact and presence.  I challenge you to be fully present with the cashier through this normally automatic exchange and notice how different that feels.

The next time you feel like Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh, or like you’re stuck in a reoccurring bad dream, start noticing how your organization of experience is sustaining the problem. Mindfully changing your body, will allow you to begin to change your mind.   


Lauran is an anxiety and trauma therapist providing counseling in Orlando, FL. She also specializes in helping people heal old broken relationship patterns that keep them from finding, creating, and keeping healthy relationships with partners, friends, and family. Lauran uses a down to earth approach infused with cutting-edge therapies that go beyond traditional talking to help clients feel calm in their body and mind and find peace within themselves.