… According to everything, we may encounter our brain will shape a simple likeness* of our physical sentiencies by way of our senses (such as hearing, smelling, vision etc.) – without us even being aware of it.
These likenesses mirror our sense impressions of colour, scent, sound, material property or body movement and posture as well as our spatial position/orientation (as this and that happened I stood on the right side of the sofa, and my aunt sat opposite to me while the cat slept on her cushion behind me).
As a part of our perception, these likenesses are linked (associated) both with other sense impressions and their assessment in the form of emotions and feelings. They are connected by reference to our past experiences. In this way, a single likeness contributes to a complex impression that fits into our memory through other impressions or associations linked to it.
This means that all these likenesses and their interconnections are and were stored together in our brain and in our so-called second brain, our intestine. They will work together like a gigantic inner archive.
No matter how well aware we are about our inner images – they will eventually determine our planned as well as our unplanned actions and reactions.
Abstractly we know: inside of us all of this works neuronal, biochemical and psychosomatic.
So how can we learn to use every skill and ability we’ve got at our disposal anyway to make the best out of ourselves, to live happier and more relaxed?
This question was even more important to me than the disease during my rheumatoid arthritis. At the end of my history of suffering, healing RA has been a concomitant of a more relaxed and happier life. In doing so, I also learned more about the influence of visual imagination has.
It consists of physical sentiencies, our perceptions and their assessments which occur in such fast succession that one could experience them not as three steps but as one. That left alone isn’t problematic. Nevertheless, a lack of distinction will lead to the conviction that they are just one. That’s a problem then because then they become a confusing mashup and we are not sure: What puts me under pressure? What torments or frightens me, what am I missing, why am I not successful, why are the specific reactions of my body so strange to me and why do I have so little access to myself and others?
While I suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, I couldn’t move freely and hardly anytime without pain. I lived with my perception mashup, which contained elements (for example, emotions) or connections (for example, the association of our feelings and emotions with my physical sensations and reactions), with which I knew little or no way to orient myself. Until the time I began exploring and relating the three parts, I back then confused as one I couldn’t figure out where my pain and inflammation were coming.
Today, in my everyday life, I can achieve a higher level of understanding for myself and thus prevent damaging and overloading tension.
So in HeilÜben, we distinguish:
–> our distinct physical sentiencies/sense impressions such as the visual impression: blue
–> our perceptions, which are more complex than distinct sense impressions for they consist of many different physical sentiencies of our inner life as well as of our surroundings: Blue isn‘t just blue here, but it becomes a perception which takes to mean that we associate certain things with it. This blue I perceive right now is bright and fresh. It seems smooth but of depth to me.
–> our assessments of our perceptions
- in the form of emotions and feelings: I like this blue. I feel comfortable, and it puts me in a good mood.
…..….and by reference to
- our past experiences: The blue was too intense on the walls but the curtains of my auntie Helga did look very lovely in this colour and my wife liked it also.
And bring the relations between the individual points to our minds.
For this purpose, we will take a look at the elements of our physical sentiencies, our perceptions and our assessments by way of example, one at a time, to be able to reassemble them consciously and intentionally afterwards.
This way, we can recognize and use opportunities for self-explanation and self-help in our daily lives quicker.
In terms of assets, we take a close look at what skills we have, how we’ve dealt with them so far, and how we used them to develop our practical skills by training them more or less well. We learn more about how we have lived our lives so far and at the same time, find better and more options for action.
For example, we may intentionally and deliberately reduce sensations such as fearful expectation or anxiety through emotions and feelings, or visual imagination, through conscious concentration, through specific exercises for posture and movement, or combinations thereof.
Our perceptions and their assessments are made at lightning speed (usually unconsciously and automatically) and called in the appropriate situations, so that we can live or survive as unscathed as possible. They take a massive influence on our first reactions and the assessment of different situations even if they can sometimes be more hindering than useful in letting doable things seem almost impossible. And often enough we don’t notice them at all. For example, ask yourself if you could do a manageable jump from a standing position with both legs on a footstool while picturing very clearly how could you bump your tibia painfully, even if the leap itself is not a problem. In everyday life, however, such images involved (e.g., edge on the tibia) for the most part remain unnoticed, and deliberate reflection mostly happens in words.
How specific, very intense images accrued unnoticed and how much of an impression they are able to make, we experience clearly when we, for instance, have a nightmare. These type of dream usually tells us in a more pictorial language of all the things that we have not yet mastered sufficiently. Some of them contain more detailed images (e.g. the neighbour boy threw his football at my head), others more abstract images which work as parables for our feelings (behind me runs a terrible monster). Only later I realize: that’s how I feel the horror of my boss, the neighbour’s dog, my mother-in-law. And after the fear, that is only natural; we can become aware of the abilities we consciously or unconsciously have in forming pictorial images by ourselves. After the dream, imagine what it will be like, not to run away from it in the nightmare in a wild hurry, but to turn around and face him fearlessly. Even five-year-olds can successfully use this strategy in the middle of a dream. The terror becomes small and tame, and the same nightmare won’t repeat.
The lesser we know of the emergence of our inner images, which influence how we react, the more we are bound with the threads of our unconsciousness. Even if our subconsciousness has to have the far more significant share in the emergence of inner images, because we can’t manage to think always about everything in detail, we can still learn to intervene consciously. It is always essential to have an idea of your abilities so that you can use it to train your skills. This gives us the chance to gain more control over the images that define us. This gives us the chance to reach better control over the inner images which determine our actions. We can learn to form them deliberately and on purpose as well as to diminish or re-form those images that scare or hold us back.
Our inner images accompany us in every part of our lives and play a significant role in how we assess new experiences and impressions. In doing so, we automatically strive for harmony, for matching our perceptions of each other and with those of other people. The better we succeed, we have the feeling that we can recognize our world and rationalize ourselves. This creates good feelings of orientation as well as of security and stability. And we need those feelings, to be able to assess ourselves as useful. Otherwise, our direction and our everyday coping are at stake. Dealing with things that shake, run counter to or challenge ourselves, our knowledge, and opinions, we find it difficult when we feel insecurity.
But it is a question of survival to care for safety and security as best as possible.
It is also a question of survival to be able to deal with the new and the unfamiliar.
Some feel that these questions are exclusive and the others diverging.
Since we are always in control no matter if consciously (the smaller portion) or unconsciously (the much larger proportion), in our everyday lives, we physically focus for better or worse on our thoughts, ideas, emotions, postures and movements. We can intentionally and consciously use and improve them. And that too, by using self-chosen and self-formed mental images, because our thoughts, our conscious conceptions of health are becoming more and more tangible to our physical reality. Consistently used and combined with other skills, they assert themselves.
Aspirations can deliberately be symbolized by a particularly motivating image that reminds us of our intentions in everyday life and supports us even in difficult times.
If we purposely make a more accurate, better, more positive picture of ourselves and our goals, the very unfavourable beliefs that we – consciously or unconsciously – have about ourselves, can oppose and therefore, at first, also feel unfamiliar and even unrealistic.
Every joyful activity, every affirmation and the feeling of making meaningful things through ourselves raises our self-evaluation into the positive and pleasantly strengthening area and thus increases our efficiency. That means good energy and relaxation.
Learning a memory technique is such a self-reinforcing competence. With it, we promote our creativity (intentionally and consciously to form and change internal images), our skills and thus support the adoption of the learning into the habit. So we can also call the healing exercises in the shower, shopping, sports, cooking, etc. in the memory. The more practice we gain in it, the more comfortable we get and the better we can do it. For the reasons given above, I have incorporated some basic general memory technique elements into the HeilÜben-exercises.
Our inner images of ourselves, linked to our emotions, feelings, postures and movements, our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us, accompany us and take a massive impact on how we assess ourselves. If we deliberately and consciously form more good, beneficial and powerful inner images of ourselves, this affects our view in a positive sense. The memorizing techniques can be of great help here, burdensome inner beliefs that burden and limit us with their sometimes even years of increased weight, rather than pushing us off with newer, encouraging and helpful inner pictures. Stressful inner beliefs are sometimes associated with specific single, drastic experiences and sometimes grown creeping to a nasty overall package, which now has many different causes. Sometimes it is too opaque to find out about these many causes individually. Especially if you can’t remember every single one, this is where good inner pictures help by offering opportunities for comparison (what makes me feel better, how can I make more of myself and my life?) And opportunities for change, to rethink things. They accompany us better to have success or even if we struggle through difficulties. This way, we think in our everyday life more often and more intensively than before about our projects and align ourselves accordingly. We focus our attention on what we want to be and achieve. Just as I switched from mental focus to illness during my illness to RA, our thoughts are directly and inseparably linked to our physical reality. They immediately generate impulses for movement, tension, relaxation, and also overloading tension. An instance of sickness, fears and worries, a disease often has more room for thought and feeling than our idea of how we want to be and of how we want to live. Corresponding signals receive our body of our beliefs, thoughts, emotions, our physical sensations, our posture and movement. Such signals need to be changed. We practice sending more and stronger, more encouraging signals to our bodies on all sides. No matter how much that makes up in the beginning and no matter how small our first steps are compared to the full way to our goals, because we do not have much “credit in our account” in that respect, more comes with every passing day. Every effort counts, over and over, again and again. They add up.
In the following chapter, we will look at some of our goals and aspired skills. We shape them into particularly motivating images and purposely combine them with more well-being, with more relaxation in body movement and posture, with our physical sensations (for example the sense of touch and our spatial perception), our feelings and emotions, with more relaxation.
For each of our mental abilities, we’ll establish a fitting image that best represents this ability, and with that, we can best empathize. With a memory technique, we store them in our memory in a fixed order. This way we can always remember them under stress and distraction and in all everyday situations, we can practice ourselves directly in how we move healthier and in how we can find out of stiff or rigid postures faster.
If I desire to consciously change an exercise, because in the meantime new insights – for example in myself – have set, it is sufficient to adapt the corresponding exercise in content and to train again in the usual way, until it runs automatically.
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HeilÜben founder, coach, and trainer
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Samsonow, Elisabeth von (Hrsg.), Giordano Bruno, Ausgewählt und vorgestellt von Elisabeth von Samsonow; Diederichs Reihe Philosophie Jetzt! 3-424-01275-0