When people are emotionally and physically at a low point, we might describe them as being in an “awful state”. Conversely, if we wish to rise to a challenge, we say we want to be “in the right state”. What are we referring to when we discuss “states of mind”?
A state of mind includes all the thoughts, emotions and physiology that are expressed in the moment, including the type of breathing and posture, and any mental images or feelings currently present. Note that our state of mind is continually changing.
In current society, it seems easier to notice our emotions, while being less aware of our breathing and thoughts. And yet the two are deeply intertwined. To attempt to change the emotions without attending to our thoughts, breathing patterns and mental imagery would be as futile as weeding a garden without removing the roots. More weeds will surface, unless you spend infinite amounts of time and energy plucking the vegetation. Sadly, this is what we often do, either with drugs, distractions or will power.
There are easy ways to elicit more resourceful states, states that bring with them more fruitful thoughts, images and physical sensations. Doing so leads to some valuable benefits. Whether the state be confidence, satisfaction, well-being or competence (the list is endless), the result is access to a wealth of information. Not only does one notice how easy it is to feel a certain way (without having to do any specific actions first), one also receives the gift of easy breathing and positive mental images. From here, as one relaxes, there is access to creative thinking and a wealth of ideas and solutions to one’s current issues.
“The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable.”
The implications of this concept are wide. Instead of expecting our patients to generate solutions for their lives from states of stress (where their breathing is shallow and thoughts negative), we might choose to first assist them in experiencing more resourceful states of mind! With a variety of quick and easy ways now available for doing so, the time has come to elevate our role of “providing” health.
Why not provide environments where patients access their OWN creativity and answers? It just might make for better medicine, and our jobs that much easier.