WHAT YOU NEED FOR THIS EXPERIMENT:
10-15 minutes of quiet alone time.
Something to record your responses with. This could be pencil and paper, your laptop, or the audio memo app on your smartphone. Writing down the different versions of your "stuck situation statement" and making brief notes on the different responses you get will help you remember the results of your experiment.
A stuck, uncomfortable situation or attitude. This doesn't have to be a stuck place of the huge variety (although it can be) - it can be something small if you'd like ("I still can't get over how that car cut in front of me last night.")
The right context. It's important to remember that this experiment is not about words in and of themselves - it's about how the language you use can shape your lived experience as it is felt in your body.
A buddy (OPTIONAL). Not mandatory, but a nice boost to the experiment. A great way to use a buddy is to have him/her reflect back the stuck situation as you say it aloud (whether in "normal" or "presence" language).
Your very first step is to take a moment to PAUSE. Simply allow yourself to slow down enough to become aware of your body. Simply notice that even when your eyes are closed, you can feel that you have arms and legs. You can feel the ground beneath your feet, the chair beneath your bottom.
Why do this? Because unlike our minds, which can be 1,000 miles and 20
years away from what's happening now - our bodies can ONLY be here, now. And here/now
is where experiencing happens. It's THE place to be!
Describing your problem in "normal" language
(a) Take a moment to bring to mind a stuck or painful situation or attitude in your life in your normal way - any sort of unpleasant situation or attitude that feels like it just won't change.
Example: "I feel anxious whenever I meet with an authority figure."
(b) NOTE: This next step is crucial! Once you have
brought this to mind, it's important to take a half-minute or more to notice
how this statement feels in your BODY (that is, your anchor in the here-and-now).
So what comes now? A tightness? An ache? A fluttery feeling? A tension? A feeling that is definitely there, but that you don’t know how to describe? And notice WHERE in your body you are feeling this. Maybe an image or some words come as well. Notice them, too.
Example: "As I state my problem, I feel something here in the bottom of my belly - a kind of tightness, sort of like there's a band around it."
Describing Your Problem in "Presence" Language
(a) I'd like you to repeat your statement about your stuck situation to yourself, but this time using three little words in place of the "I": "SOMETHING IN ME __________."
Example: "Something in me feels anxious whenever I meet with an authority figure."
This is called “presence language” because it helps to bring you into a here-and-now relationship with your experience – i.e., it helps you stay present with it.
(b) Remember – this (b) step is crucial! Here/now, notice what you feel in your body, and
where you feel it in your body, as you say this stuck situation statement to yourself in
It's quite likely that you have a
very different relationship to the experience of this situation now. Many people
feel a new sense of space around the problem. And perhaps you don't, and that's just fine.
Going even further with "Presence" language
(a) I'd like you to repeat your statement about your stuck situation to yourself, but this time using two additional words: "I’M SENSING something in me __________."
Example: I'm sensing something in me that feels anxious whenever I meet with an authority figure."
(b) Again – this (b) step is crucial! Here/now, notice what you feel in your body, and where you feel it in your body, as you say this stuck situation to yourself in presence language.
Sometimes, when adding these two words, people get a further sense of this being an experience in their bodies, with even more of a sense of a connection with the experience – because I’m sensing it in my body. You might get a different feeling. Whatever feeling you get, note it down. Just notice what feeling or sense of the situation comes in you now - even if it’s not the “right” feeling! The most important thing is to begin to notice your actual experience.
Keeping it Company
I’d like you to complete this process by resting your hand on the place where you feel all of this right now in your body. (And if you can’t reach that place, just imagine your hand there.)
This is where you keep it company as it rests here, just as it is, within the spacious, loving awareness that you are.
And ake a moment or two to notice the difference between how you feel now and your experience of the stuck situation or attitude when you began this experiment.
Your experience of the situation and your relationship to it may be totally different. Or it may be very similar but with a softer feeling to it. Perhaps, for some good reason, it has not changed much at all. Just notice what’s here NOW, and be with it.
That is the most important thing.