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constant monitoring of sensations in body

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by eskimoeskimo, Sep 5, 2015.

  1. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    I find it very uncomfortable to be aware of...well, just about any sensation in my body. I think over the years I've learned to lump so many physical sensations into the 'anxiety' category. There's a hierarchy to the list - it looks something like 1.heartbeat 2. neckpain 3. lack of blood flow to brain/face feeling etc... but the particulars don't much matter.

    Greater than any of those particular fears, is the fear and frustration involved in not being able to stop paying attention to these things. I'm not destroyed by one 'strange' heartbeat, I'm destroyed by the 16 waking hours of stolen focus. The checking and constant self-monitoring is on autopilot - my brain's got a constant anxiety level gauge, like a big number on a billboard that I can't stop looking at. There's an 'overall' category, then there are individual gauges for 'chest pressure,' 'what I think my blood pressure might be this second,' 'neck pain strength' ... you get the idea.

    Now, the mechanisms in place here seem apparent.... fear of fear fear of fear of blah blah we all know

    But, in my years of trying, I still haven't found a healthy way to relate to these sensations and anxieties. I could use some further guidance.

    For example: reading a book. This is one of the most challenging activities for me. It's a quiet, sit still, activity... so a situation in which I can't help but notice every heartbeat. It's also become some sort of success benchmark for me because it's an activity that I really sorely miss, and it's been stolen away by something as senseless as my own heartbeat. It's high stakes. I know this sounds silly, but there's really nothing else that can make me as frustrated, anxious, angry, and upset as an hour's reading! It's a heightened example of my experience in general.

    So what is the 'mindful' approach to this? I've tried so many different ways of relating to this situation. I've tried deep breathing while reading, encouraging anxious feelings, ignoring anxious feelings, bringing my attention back to the words, reading out-loud, reading while pacing, on and on. But the tense, anxious, pressure feelings just build and build to a fever pitch.

    Any tips?

  2. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    You might want to try mindfulness meditation where you move your center of consciousness progressively through all the different regions of your anatomy while doing deep breathing at the same time. I think Dr Andrew Weil has directions for performing such a meditation in one of his books. Weil has you concentrate on different areas of your body while tensing the muscles located there on the in breath. After holding your breath, you then release it at the same time you relax the muscle group you previously tensed. Then, you move on to the next area of your body and repeat the cycle. I believe the exercise starts with your neck and works all the way to your toes to finish. I guess it keeps you from obsessing on symptoms as you say you do. Weil has a whole series of breathing exercises like that in his book on breathe. Sounds like it distracts you from getting obsessed.
  3. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member


    Thanks for the reply. I've been doing mindfulness meditation for a number of years and I do think 'being mindful' is at the crux of it. But I don't think I've really learned to be mindful. Even in my meditation practice, I think I've continued a lot of my usual patterns, and maybe even strengthened them. I'll take a look at the breathing-centric methods you mentioned

  4. Zumbafan

    Zumbafan Well known member

    I sympathise with you. I can only relate my experience. When I finally mustered the courage to ask myself why I was doing this to myself, the answer came...I didn't feel safe...anywhere. Once I realised that, and told myself it was a limiting, outdated, unconscious belief, I changed...slowly. My self talk now is, I feel safe. I feel safe driving. I feel safe walking. I feel safe reading, etc. Don't be too hard on yourself either. Go and do something fun!
    David88 likes this.
  5. David88

    David88 Well known member

    Your anxiety and self-monitoring are TMS equivalents. They are distractions, just like pain is a distraction. Try relating to these sensations as messages from your inner child that something needs attention -- something that your unconscious finds very scary. You can overrule your unconscious (scary and difficult, but you can do it) and listen for the message anyway.

    And Zumbafan is right. Be kind and patient with yourself along the way.

    There's a poem that puts this beautifully:


    I found this touched me deeply.

    3rdCoast and SunnyinFL like this.
  6. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    David, thanks for sharing the poem. It really is a very moving poem and helps us to be in better touch with our inner self.
    David88 likes this.
  7. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member


    Would you mind expanding on this point? How does one overrule their unconscious?

  8. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Has this worked for you, over time? I've always struggled with the idea of self-talk. If I don't feel safe, I feel like telling my brain otherwise is in vain. My anxiety usually ramps up in response and I feel like I'm lying to myself.
  9. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Let me chime in, it's a two prong effort...

    Firstly, when you feel anxious, practice mindfulness meditation or being mindful. Learning to observe your thoughts without reacting or passing judgement. Simply, being with and at one with yourself and shifting yourself into neutral.

    Once you've quietened the mind, the affirmations will be more effective and efficient.
    kevinmichael and SunnyinFL like this.
  10. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    You over ride, by being mindful and breaking any toxic or obsessive thinking and replacing them with healthy, positive and clean thoughts. Obviously, this isn't something which can be achieved over night, it takes persistency and time. Some people have found the use of EFT helpful in reprogramming their unconscious mind.
    SunnyinFL and Grateful17 like this.
  11. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Is it really possible to control your thoughts?
    SunnyinFL likes this.
  12. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    It's not about controlling thoughts, it's about learning to observe, being aware and not passing judgement on these thoughts. This is possible when we practice mindfulness meditation or are being mindful.
    SunnyinFL likes this.
  13. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    I guess we're all on the same page, I just haven't made any progress in mindfulness practice. I know it's not supposed to be a 'goal oriented' type of thing... but c'mon! I must be doing something wrong
  14. Zumbafan

    Zumbafan Well known member

    Yes, my feeling safe self talk has worked for me over time. Once I understood the role of adrenaline in the body, and that I had too much coursing through me, I could do something about it. Adrenaline production depends on perceptions of threats, from moment to moment. I made conscious decisions to think on pleasant things, look at nature, lovely photos, etc. I also gave up watching the news, action movies, loud concerts, etc. Doing these things rebalances the nervous system. It wasn't easy, but persistence paid off. I can now watch the news. Also, the brain doesn't know the difference between real and imaginary, so it is good to use your imagination wisely. As I said before, this is just my experience, but never give up hope. We are more powerful than we think, so think well.
    SunnyinFL and Grateful17 like this.
  15. David88

    David88 Well known member

    Good question. I just meant, when you are anxious or focused on self-monitoring, remind yourself that these are distractions, and think about what you might be distracting yourself from. What's going on in your life -- family, relationship, work -- that you're skipping by without noticing? It could be something current, or some old feeling that is being stirred just now. It may be something that you are aware of, but are dismissing it's real emotional importance.

    It does take practice. I've had lots of therapy, which helps a lot, but you may not need that unless you're stuck.

    Does that make any more sense?
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2015
    SunnyinFL likes this.
  16. Boston Redsox

    Boston Redsox Well Known Member

    I repeat stop analyzing putting so much pressure on your self you are beating the crap out of yourself. Accept the thought and let it pass.

    The key word here is ACCEPT AND LET GO no matter what the thought is.
  17. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    I don't know. But then, I guess I wouldn't. I certainly spend most of my mind preoccupied with various aches and anxieties. I wish an MRI could see your unconscious.
  18. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    I see the value in this, conceptually. I'm struggling to put it into practice. I'm still not sure what accepting and letting go really means.
  19. Boston Redsox

    Boston Redsox Well Known Member

    Accepting means what ever pain sensations you have accept them don't fight them that just causes resistance which makes thing worse…and letting go means that you feel these sensations or thoughts or whatever and let them go by you like clouds in the sky. Not easy to do but with consistency it get easier.
    And also stay occupied a idle mind is not good..do some fun things.

    When I am about to do something I want I just bring the tms with me whether it like it or not…and most of the time my little inner kid does not.
  20. James59

    James59 Well known member

    Boy, I can relate to this. I've been monitoring my body since childhood and all it has done is make me afraid. It might be helpful, as I have, to consider any outside influences that are encouraging your constant body monitoring.

    In our culture we are constantly bombarded with messages to do just what you are doing, monitor our bodies. Look at all of these disease "awareness" campaigns that have proliferated over the years. Cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, acid reflux, digestive health, and many more. Some of these messages have good intentions behind them, while others are just designed to sell pills, potions, or other products. In just the past year products like Fitbits have come on the market to automate and further reinforce the body-monitoring regimen. We're also warned to watch every bite of food - eat this, never that (and "that" is always the good tasting stuff). But regardless of their origin and intent, they all tend to make people fearful that if we don't monitor our bodies, notice every little anomaly, eat exactly the right foods, and get everything in perfect order, we'll die a horrible, premature death. That's the message we're getting every single day, many times per day, in fact!

    So it might be helpful to recognize these external influences, notice how frequently they're coming at you, and deal with them before they have a chance to get programmed into your subconscious mind.
    Markus likes this.

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