By Jacqueline Westhead, Sound Body Wisdom, October 22, 2017, 0692963367
Jacqueline Westhead gives us very important tools to feel safe in the world. Touching the Invisible crosses autobiographical details with medicine, neuroscience, and psychology to solidify the story of how we can use the simple tools of awareness, kindness, and curiosity to live fully. Since reading this books, I refer back to her ideas almost daily. How can I be more curious? What’s the kind thing to do here? What am I not aware of? The book is truly a field guide for living.
[k613] Instead of waiting until you feel down, shitty, or ready to punch the wall before you engage the tools, work with them when you feel good.
[k645] Your cultivated awareness, kindness and curiosity allow you to create relationships with your Inner Tribe, shift habits, and tap into your superpower.
[k650] Wherever you are on this journey, find your curiosity to unwind habits and conditioning that limit you and that create stress or diminish your experience of life.
[k661] “When we remove our perceptions, the potential for joy is undeniable.”
[k712] We continue throughout our lives to respond to life and create habits that both nourish and deplete us.
[k973] The brain is flexible and open to suggestions, but it needs stimulus and it is dependent upon interaction.
[k1076] Every day, every moment is an opportunity to guide our growth. The potential is there if you practice and engage.
[k1229] But when we become aware of a habit (i.e., an encoded neural pathway), we can begin to dismantle it if we choose.
[k1257] The concept of will power or self- discipline becomes less about control and more about conscious engagement towards creating yourself. Plasticity shows us that any aspect of our brain function can be improved with training at any age.
[k1269] Our learning will happen through trial and error, reward, and focus.
[k1291] Research has found that the most successful game plan for change needs to include positive feelings (not shame or guilt), self-motivation, specific details, realistic goals, and some anticipation for the obstacles that can sidetrack us.
[k1446] We need to get to know what our mind and body are telling us so that we can learn to help things return to balance.
[k1492] (The physical act of running from or fighting the threat would offer a bonus in that it would help reduce levels of stress hormones and increase natural mood elevating chemicals.)
[k1498] Our body can run from a predator in the wild for short distances, but it was not made to try and outrun danger every hour of the day.
[k1520] Stress can play a role directly or indirectly in just about any illness from stroke to migraines to issues with digestion, immune function, or depression.
[k1523] This practice believes each of us can explore the unconscious shape of our stress response to change current habits, develop more nourishing habits, and become proactive in our relationship to stress.
[k1597] Studies have shown that self-love and positive self-esteem create a sense of safety, an ease from anxiety, and overall calm.
[k2312] Consider the difference in how animals handle disagreements compared to humans. After two birds get into a fight, they will likely engage in a system of flapping or shaking to remove the stress response through their body. This is a healthy biological mechanism. They will then typically go about their regular business as if nothing had happened.
[k2434] When you get angry, it is a full-body experience.
[k2467] The amazing thing about smiling is that it is always available–and there are no negative side effects.
[k2475] Investing in smiles seems incredible, considering the benefits can include improving your relationships, lowering stress response, and helping yourself and others feel really good. Smiles have a lot to offer considering they are so simple.
[k2565] “In the middle of the difficulty lies opportunity” Albert Einstein
[k2608] The essence of the emotion is movement. When emotions get stuck it can challenge us so just keep imagining it as it moves through you.
[k2623] Our whole day is filled with all these habits we have created over the span of our life–and most of the time, we don’t even recognize them. And that’s the point: you don’t need to pay any attention to them. They are totally self sufficient.
[k2714] The fact that we know as much as we do about brain function, plasticity, and the neural thread of habit in general is a huge boost to our ability to engage our power. Because who we are is not predesigned, and we have so much more potential for growth than we often realize.
[k2726] Our brains and bodies respond to the repetitive more than the occasional. This means that how we think and feel most of the time is really what matters. We have the power to create physical and mental habits that nourish and support us as opposed to the opposite. What we repeat in action, emotion or thought is what shapes our wellness and abilities. It creates our life.
[k2998] Biases can compel us to avoid information that may contradict them, or to actively seek only information to confirm them.
[k3014] Thousands of years ago, it was more important to escape negative situations than it was to approach opportunity.
[k3023] One way to counter our inherent negativity bias and shift neural pathways is by consciously focusing our attention on what is going well.
[k3028] Seeking the positive is different than being flippant or indifferent about things. It is more about practicing an optimism that is realistic. You become capable of seeing the facts of a situation, looking for the hopeful, empowered or positive elements.
[k3035] You can actually set a reminder to do this check in a few times throughout your day. Another great exercise is to grab a piece of paper or your phone and just starting writing down anything about which you feel gratitude, appreciation, or joy. Just two to three minutes can engage different areas of our brain for more nourishing effects.
[k3045] Some might say our optimism bias is the very wiring for our ability to have hope. Studies13 in both neuroscience and social science have found that we can tend to be more optimistic than realistic when considering future events or decisions.
[k3074] Bringing attention to your biases, developing your curiosity, and finding a relationship with them interrupts the unconscious autopilot.
[k3128] PERCEPTION “These, then, are my last words to you: Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create that fact.” William James
[k3147] But more often, our ability to perceive depends on our expectations, memories, biases, and emotions.
[k3328] It will usually take a bit of discomfort to release a limiting belief or to motivate ourselves to create real change.
[k3333] Maintaining comfort and a desire to avoid discomfort are powerful motivators for each of us.
[k3346] Uncertainty is not synonymous with comfort, but it is ripe with possibilities for growth.
[k3358] I fought hard for my constructed perceptions, and at a certain point, I realized that I needed to try something radical. I had to surrender to the unknown. I had to stop clinging and allow something truly new to emerge.
[k3374] I have become curious as to how we might create core comfort that exists deep within us. The comfort of being You in the world and having a sense of fundamental security within yourself, no matter what. This is a comfort and security that is not based on anything external. This personal form of comfort comes from our ability to accept and snuggle up close to discomfort, seeing what it has to offer us.
[k3387] “The need to be normal is the predominant anxiety disorder in modern life.” Thomas Moore
[k3423] It seems that people who participate in new activities laced with uncertainty are happier and perceive more meaning in their lives than those who are steeped in the familiar.
[k3426] But uncertainty has the ability to make us happier.
[k3443] When any one person feels disempowered or powerless, this can cause incredible struggle.
[k3451] When we are empowered, there is an inherent move towards cooperation with other people, ourselves, and the world around us. When we feel empowered, there is less chance we will use power to manipulate because we are not acting out of a sense of “need” but choosing from a place of resource. Empowerment brings balance.
[k3477] Vulnerability is learning how to be compassionate, even when fear is driving the car.
[k3505] Acceptance is not a form of laying down; it is a choice to not fight against that which you cannot change in the moment.
[k3508] Our lives are a continuous flow of neutral situations that we make desirable or undesirable based on our thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes.
[k3511] Our personality and life experiences have shaped the way we color these things and attached mental meanings.
[k3557] “True life is lived when tiny changes occur.” Tolstoy
“We cling to our own point of view, as though everything depended on it. Yet our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away.” Zhuangzi
[k3698] Everything below the surface, running invisibly and without our awareness, is the vast unconscious. Awareness is the tool for lowering the water line of the unconscious to see what was previously hidden and interact consciously.
[k3770] “In a society that can profit from your self-doubt, loving yourself can be a rebellious and truly powerful act.” JW
[k4023] After the tense exchange, the first thing I do is ask myself what I was afraid of or what I was attached to and why.
[k4029] When we focus on avoidance, discomfort, or just living with the feeling of being shattered by the experience, we can miss the opportunity for transformation.
[k4031] We cannot change the events of our lives, but we can find new ways of relating to them through curiosity.
[k4206] When I would lump the feeling into the pile of “I just feel bad” without being curious to know more detail, the feeling was just an enormous mountain that I didn’t even know how to approach. But when I spoke to the feeling and was able to distinguish qualities about it, I found more shape to it, and it became more manageable or approachable.
[k4645] The essence of meditation is simply the regular practice of paying attention. It’s a space of focusing your awareness on things such as your breath, a movement, a sound, a word, sunlight on the wall, or even a visualization. Anything that you can use as an aid to help you with having single focus for the time you set aside.
[k4854] Using imagination as a tool for change is powerful, but imagination can also become a hindrance if it is overactive, causing overwhelm by imagining difficult situations that are not actually happening.
[k4939] The more you repeat your visualizations, the greater influence they have.
[k5223] Movement is medicine.
[k5227] We have so many conditioned and limiting beliefs about movement that giving ourselves permission to move expressively can be challenging, even though it is our birthright.
[k5245] Why allow any limitation to persist due to lack of curiosity about habits and conditioning?
[k5286] The tool of observation is a juicy one because it unlocks so many spaces in between our attachment to perspectives, reactions, and limited thinking.
[k5295] Because we often react to things in life as if we were one of the characters in the play, when honestly we can choose to be more like the audience member.
[k5359] I have practiced dismantling my habitual use of words and language for over a decade now, and I have seen the space it opens up for me to not only shift my perspective, but to see other choices in how I think and act.
[k5436] And since consistency is one of the greatest tools for changing habits, we cannot behave one way here and another way there. We need to create a common thread wherever we are and whoever we are with to support who we are inside.
[k5988] It is incredible that positive or even mundane physical contact will rally a small tribe of hormones and neurotransmitters.