What's Real?

"I can get carried away by my thoughts," I say to my mother in the car. 

"Fear thoughts, doubt thoughts, anxious thoughts masquerade brilliantly as truth," I tell her. "I know they aren't, but they can get so big, it's easy to believe they're real and they're me. It's ungrounding." 

"Well," my mother says, "what would happen if you asked yourself, What's real here?" 

I look at her. She turns the car onto a new street and says, "Since the mind is full of thoughts - some real, some not - don't go to the mind for grounding. Go to the body. What's real will always be what we feel in the body at this moment."  

She stops the car at a light. 

"When those thoughts come up" - she makes an upward motion with her hands - "immediately name what you feel in your body. Like right now, I feel my hands on the steering wheel. I feel my right foot push on the gas. I feel some tightness in my upper shoulders." 

I nod. I feel tension in my jaw. I feel my tongue against my bottom teeth. I feel my fingers clenching each other. 

"You've got to really train at it," my mother tells me. "Nasty thoughts seem authoritative and all-knowing, while this practice feels flimsy and what's-the-point? But commit to it. Bring yourself back, again and again, to the truth of the body as you feel it right now. "

She drops me off. I kiss her on the cheek. I walk into my apartment. Some fear comes up, residual stuff from earlier in the day. Alright, I tell myself, I feel the soreness at the base of my neck. I feel my toes clench and release in my socks. 

There's no immediate miracle. No I'M TRANSFORMED! revelation. It's just the quiet, ongoing process of returning myself from my mind to my body. 

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FocusCaitie Whelan