Hello Spiritual Warriors!!! Welcome to this edition of The Source – the merging of timeless wisdom & its modern-day practical application to help take our lives to the next level.
For the past decade, I’ve been teaching about the power of the pattern interrupt. In my newest book “destressifying,” I explore this concept in depth to share tools, tips, and techniques to introduce pattern interrupts into our daily life… from our morning meditation practice to hourly stress-busters that break up moments of struggle, anger, confusion & conditioned responses.
When we introduce a pattern interrupt into our flow of thoughts, we can gently step aside from the uneasy memories of the past or the anxious thoughts of the future and truly ground ourselves back into the present moment. Our bodymind moves beyond all that irritation, anger, discomfort, anxiety, and less-than or “it’s not fair” thinking. The constriction vanishes instantly; and our next thought, word, or action will come from a less conditioned, more expansive place. Now we are primed for greater possibilities, novel solutions, and infinite potential. Whatever limiting belief was holding us back is momentarily suspended.
16 Seconds That Will Change Your Life
Of all the pattern-interrupting techniques that I’ve shared throughout the world, the one with the most powerful effect in the shortest amount of time is perhaps the simplest one. It’s a game changer, and I call it “16 seconds to clarity.” Not only does it have a profound destressifying impact in the moment, but it can also be the foundation for greater clarity of thought, heightened creativity, deeper intuition, and making better choices. Let’s try it right now. It’s okay to keep reading as you go through this exercise with me.
Think of something that has irritated or bothered you in the past few days . . . a difficult conversation, a disappointment, an unmet expectation. Perhaps someone said they would do something and they didn’t, or they said they would meet you at a certain time and they were late, or they unexpectedly shared something about you with another person and it got back to you. (Don’t go too deep. This isn’t therapy.) But right now, feel free to envision that other person’s face . . . maybe replay the moment in your mind’s eye, even notice someplace in your body that feels connected to the irritation. Take a few moments to settle into that space.
Now take a long, slow, deep breath in through your nostrils, and as you do . . . slowly count to four, and observe the air as it moves into your nostrils and to the back of your throat. Watch your breath as it moves down your chest and deep into your lungs. Feel your belly expand.
Observe your belly being filled, and hold that breath in to the count of four. And just witness the breath in your belly as you silently count. One, two, three, four.
Now slowly, to the count of four, release your breath and watch it as it moves up into your chest, into your throat, into your sinuses, and out through your nostrils.
And when the last wisp of air is out of you, hold that breath out to the count of four. And observe it, watch it, witness it . . . as it dissipates into the air.
Now breathe normally, and let’s try it with your eyes closed. Remember: in four—hold four—out four—hold four. And make sure you follow your breath. Observing it along the way is key to the process. (I’ll wait right here . . . it’s only 16 seconds.)
I’m guessing you’re back right now, eyes open and breathing normally. Well, our whole experience was 32 seconds: 16 seconds with your eyes open and 16 seconds with your eyes closed. And in that half a minute while you were observing your breath (assuming you were playing along), you were totally present. You were not thinking about the past or any of its grievances or regrets, nor moving into the future with all its predictions and projections. You were not thinking about your irritation. You were totally in the present moment. Your mind is a little calmer; your heartbeat has slowed a bit. You’ve filled your body with heavily oxygenated blood and nourishing hormones, and in the process, you’ve released a little bit of stress.
In under a minute, you have taken a powerful step into destressifying. The formal terminology for what’s happening in 16seconds is introducing a pattern interrupt. You actually just jammed the brakes on a potential surge of stress hormones and all the negative bodymind reactions you were starting to feel. You broke the flow of conditioned physical and emotional responses. Just the thought of this irritating situation or person triggered a memory of the stressful circumstances, and in 16 seconds you returned to the present moment. Then in the 17th second, you’re clearer—beyond the moment of emotion. You are a bit calmer . . . a bit lighter . . . a bit easier.
Even Dogs Pattern Interrupt!
The leading current theory on dog yawning, according to Dr. Benjamin Hart, a veterinarian and behaviorist at the University of California, Davis, is basically that “yawning cools the brain.” According to Hart, during periods of inactivity, the circulation in the brain slows down and the temperature of the brain comes up.
Yawning is ostensibly believed to cool the arterial blood and thus cool the brain, allowing it to function better.
Behaviorists contend that dogs yawn as a way to neutralize a situation or calm themselves when they feel stressed. When Peaches – the Buddha Princess yawns, (other than when she first wakes up), it’s often because she’s anxious or is experiencing some sort of uncertainty. In group settings like visiting the dog park or at dog obedience classes, there’s plenty of yawning going on. These dogs know something should and could be happening, but aren’t sure when it will start. So they will subconsciously yawn to calm themselves down!!
The Power of the Pattern Interrupt
The process of repeated mini-immersions into stillness and silence is such a profound departure from our conditioned patterns and behaviors that we very quickly start to see the world differently. Each moment carries a little extra stillness — almost as if life is flowing at us in slow motion. We begin to reawaken our natural equilibrium — our organic, unconditioned set point, which connects us effortlessly to the core of our creativity and intuition. It also leads to our bursts of inspiration, our most intuitive thoughts, our greatest insights, and our deepest sense of connection to ourselves and to the world around us.
Let’s commit to a life of pattern interruptions so we can step into our best version & listen to this guided meditation featuring Jeremy Ross’s song “Pattern Interrupt.”
In the meantime, I’ll see you in the gap! Peace. -davidji