QUESTION: I'm a thinking person, but I tend to get caught up in analysis, which leads to paralysis, and I'm told I think too much. For someone in my mental body, what can I do to bring myself back into balance and integration?

Dear Mental Body:

You, my friend, are not alone. We have become a nation that worships at the altar of the intellect. We have made information - our mind - our God.

Mental stimulation and activities that keep us in our mental bodies – texting, tweeting, the internet, social networks, gaming - are everywhere and are now being found to be highly addictive. In fact in Japan they already have “rehab camps” for children addicted to gaming. In this country, Stanford scientists have found some phone technology to be addictive and some rehab centers around the country are now offering technology addiction services.

So, what’s up with this? Historically it is clear that the development of our intellect and the explosion of the information age was “what was next” for us from an evolutionary standpoint at the start of 20th century.

The problem is that in pursuing the expansion of our minds, we left critical pieces of ourselves behind. And now we are precariously, perhaps even dangerously, out of balance. Additionally, a critical misinterpretation or “belief,” has developed about intellect and the mind.

We have come to believe that “knowledge” is a product of the mind or intellect. That “knowing” is only what science can prove empirically. True “knowing” for human beings is a function of experience, complete experience. That is, you “know” something when you experience it  - fully - through all aspects of your Self: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

So, while as a nation - as a world – we may have greatly expanded our minds, our intellects, and our ability to process, prove, gather, dissect, analyze, etc., information -  we have not holistically evolved as human beings, because we are out of balance. We have ignored or neglected aspects of ourselves critical to our well being - our expansion, our evolution - all in the hot pursuit of more information. Often, the true purpose of this pursuit of more information is an attempt to escape from our emotional “experiencing.”

We each have four aspects – or bodies – that compose who we are holistically. We have our physical body, our emotional body, our mental body, and our spiritual body. This isn’t some “airy-fairy,” new age perspective I conjured up, the United States Armed Forces even offers this perspective to recruits in boot camp training. In order to be our best - our most “complete” - all four of those aspects must be in balance.

In general, a person with an out of balance or overly developed mental body, is someone with an under developed emotional body.  For many years I had an over-developed emotional body, basically because that’s the environment I grew up in and I didn’t want to face some stark realities about my life. And then for a time, I had an over developed mental body. This was because I was afraid to open my Self up emotionally to the hurt and pain that I needed to fully experience, in order to resolve it, mature, and evolve.

Based on what you have expressed, I would say you have an out of balance mental body because along the way there were some feelings too painful, or too scary for you to experience. So, as a means of “survival,” you shifted into using your Mental Body as a way to buffer - or block out - your emotional feelings. Welcome to the club.

And in this country, it is a very, very large club. Statistically, approximately more than one in ten Americans is presently on prescription antidepressants. Addictions of all kinds – from sex, spending, and substances – to eating disorders, on-line communications, and hoarding are growing larger every day.

The bottom line?  Americans are addicted to “not feeling.” And they’re using anything and everything to stay that way. We either inundate ourselves with so much emotional energy that we become numb to it; or we block out our emotional bodies entirely.

(For more about this, see “Addiction Nation: we're all addicts” on this web site.)

The good news? You are conscious and aware that you are relying too heavily on your “thinking” and you want to make a change that will create more balance.  Without seeming to ingratiate myself, I cannot tell you how HUGE it is that you recognize this about your Self and are consciously choosing to create more balance and integration!  Boo-Yea for you!

So, let’s talk practical ways for you to do that.

First, let’s start with those people who tell you that you “think too much.” That’s their judgment. And judgment always keeps you stuck. You might want to politely, but clearly, let them know that in the future you would prefer that they request permission from you before asserting their “judgment.” 

Seriously, the sooner we return to a reasonable level of courtesy and respect for one another, the better.  It is no one’s inherent right to “judge” another person, (not even when you are “in love,” not even when “it’s family,” or “just business,” or “that’s politics ”). Unless a person has been given explicit permission to express their opinion, it’s disrespectful to assert it. Period.

To put it more simply, “Those who judge do not matter. Those who matter do not judge.”

Sincerely, their “judgment” of you will keep you stuck…in your mind. So, the next time someone expresses that perspective to you - after you have politely laid down your boundaries - then use their “outburst” as an opportunity to…feel.

Rather than thinking about what they have said, or ignoring it, use your mind to go into your body and see how and what you feel. How do you do this? Let go of your mind - set it aside for a moment - and just become present to your physical body.

Observe what you are feeling; begin to experience what’s happening within you. Specifically, get in touch with how your lower abdomen, solar plexus, heart, and throat feel. These are good indicators of how you are genuinely feeling. Notice body temperature or tension. Just be an observer, without judgment, of what you are experiencing.

Practice this “observing and experiencing,” throughout your day: at home, at work, while in conversation with people, when you are alone, etc. Also, notice if any memories come up for you.

Shifting from your mental body into your physical body, is one of the best ways to get in touch with your emotional body; basically because you are consciously choosing to shift your energy from one aspect of you to another. This “shift” can create even more awareness, allowing you easier access to feelings and “experiencing.”

So, to put it simply, one of the best ways let go of your mental body is to shift your energy into another body.

Meditation and more traditional forms of yoga can assist you to shift into your spiritual body. But be careful that you use these to let go of the mind, rather to than to build “mind control.” A very popular and potentially dangerous misperception about the authentic purpose and use of meditation and yoga in our society has many people now developing mind control – actually creating more mental body energy – rather than using these ancient practices to clear and balance all four bodies.

Great ways to shift out of compulsive or impulsive thinking are walking, singing, dancing, or simply jumping up and down. This grounds you and enables you to press the “reset” button, so to speak.

Remember, the key to your overall well being and evolution is always balance. Balance, balance, balance! And the best tools to create and sustain balance are openness, consciousness, willingness, and the ability to shift your energy.