Dr. Chad Sato
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
Halloween is celebrated each year on Oct. 31. Halloween originated from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts (history.com/topics/halloween). Over the years, Halloween evolved into activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, celebratory gatherings, wearing costumes and eating candies. Samhain marked the end of summer and harvesting leading to the beginning of the dark, cold winter. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of Oct. 31, the celebration of Samhain, was to honor the ghosts of the dead that returned to earth.
It’s always fascinating to learn about the history of certain holidays or traditions that we honor and celebrate. All for the deeper purpose of why we do what we do. In many ways as we move into the fall and get ready for the flu season that somehow disappeared last year, the new pressing fear is of the COVID-19 Delta variant. Addressing our mental and emotional health can help strengthen our connection with our bodies. By knowing when stressors are affecting us, we can make proactive choices and act versus waiting for some health crisis to pop up.
I am going to share a few helpful “Trick or Treats” to give you some peace of mind. The first trick deals with your mind. The second trick deals with your emotions. The last trick deals with the mind-body connection and creating a more solid relationship with your body so that you know what feels right during moments of confusion, fear, and uncertainty.
The first trick to learn and master is to decipher between what past experiences have created your unique story and influenced how you view your life and the world. Some examples are self-perpetuating stories such as, “I am not smart enough,” “I always make bad decisions,” “I always get sick.”
List out all the doubts that you have about yourself and your abilities. The more brutally honest you can be, the better. Until you can see all your stories or the limiting things that you tell yourself, you are literally blind to these stories and just reacting to situations. By becoming aware of your go-to stories, you now have the option to confirm these stories or to challenge and change them.
Once you have listed out your stories, the next step is to look at these stories and verify if they are really true. The best way to challenge an ingrained story is to find counter-facts to what you tell yourself. Search for past concrete experiences that show the exact opposite of the stories that you have told yourself all these years.
The last way to deal with these old stories is to see how these, limiting beliefs have benefitted and served you all these years. What I have learned is that everything that we do that either limits or helps us to excel benefits us in some shape or form. So by recognizing how these old limiting stories have served you in your life, will then give you an opportunity to decide and choose a new way to live your life by creating new stories that can help you to grow and evolve.
Being able to delineate between your emotions (or gut instincts) and your intuitive knowing is the emotional trick that can help you establish a greater resolve in yourself. Fear is a strong emotional driver. But the trick is not to detach from your emotions of fear and anxiety, but instead to feel and move through those emotions.
Neuroscientist Candace Pert teaches that emotions are “energy in motion,” or “e-motion.” Therefore, anytime you feel stuck or paralyzed with fear of the unknown, the fear ramps up because the energy has you stuck. Instead, you should allow fear to move through and out of you.
One of the most powerful tricks that you can do is to allow yourself to feel and acknowledge your emotions. Observe how fear, worry and anxiety are expressed in your body.
The trick to help you achieve the treat is to stay present with how your body is feeling and reacting. You don’t need to justify or judge yourself for having those feelings; honor and acknowledge them. Within 10-15 minutes, you will feel a release in your body and the fears and anxieties subside.
The trick in connecting your mind with your body is to first undo years of conditioning thinking that your mind can get your body to do anything. Part of the disconnection with your mind and body is because of being taught that what the mind thinks, the body will follow.
Second, recognize that anytime you had pain or your body appeared to have failed you in the past, there was a deeper reason for why your body did and didn’t respond.
Third trick is to set aside time to start connecting with your body and to start tuning in to how your body responds to stress and to moments of ease. Like any solid personal relationships that you have in your life, it had to be nurtured and cultivated. Taking the time to understand and accept your friends and loved ones didn’t happen overnight, so the same thing cannot be expected of your body. The treat that you can expect by creating a solid relationship with your body is the awareness of how to care for it at any given time.
A simple exercise to start connecting with your body can be done either when you first wake up or when you lay down to sleep. Take three to five minutes to scan and feel any areas of pain, tightness and ease in your body. Doing this consistently over the next two weeks to a month will help you start to identify areas of your body that feel tight, pain or ease.
If you feel any areas of pain or tightness, you can place your hand on that body part and take three to four deep breaths focusing the breath into that area. Most of the time, this will decrease pain and tightness. The reason why this simple yet effective breathing exercise works, is because you are taking time to be present with your body and like a child throwing a tantrum, all your body wants from you is to pay attention.
In closing, if you start applying the tricks to connect with your mind, emotions, and body, you will reap the treats in doing so. The treat is greater confidence in dealing with the ever so present coronavirus and learning to trust your body and self on a deeper level. To have peace of mind and mental wellness is vital at this time. The more you can trust what you feel the more you can receive treats to last you a lifetime.
Dr. Chad Sato graduated from UCLA in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and earned the Doctor of Chiropractic degree with honors from Life Chiropractic College West in 1998. Sato founded his practice, Aloha Chiropractic (alohachiro.biz), in Mänoa valley, O’ahu, on Oct. 1, 1999. He is a sought-after educator, speaker, author and mind-body specialist who helps people reach new levels of empowerment when it comes to their health and wellness by staying present with their body signs, making appropriate life choices and utilizing stress instead of managing it.