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Without awareness, our brain cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined.

Have you ever noticed this?

  • Perhaps you are watching a suspenseful movie. Your heart begins to race, you are holding your breath as if you are in the movie itself.
  • Perhaps you are in bed thinking of the day ahead tomorrow and all the things on your to-do list; meanwhile your stomach feels like it is in a knot with dread, maybe clenching your shoulders and fists.
  • Perhaps you are looking back at old photographs of fun, carefree time and you feel at ease, humour, joy.

These processes can often happen within an instant, outside of our awareness and control. Our physical bodies also react to this with many different sensations and emotions arising. 

We may view this feature of our brain as unhelpful. However, we can also use this to our advantage to engage in more neutral and calm situations when experiencing unease.

Next time you find yourself going down the rabbit-hole of “what-ifs”, rumination or reacting to something not actually happening at present; try to ground yourself in the present. Notice what is actually happening here and now. Using your senses, things to focus your awareness on could be:

  • Noticing the colour of the sky.
  • Being aware of the comforting smell of a candle.
  • Pressing your feet into the ground.
  • Listening to your breath.
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