Paul Life happens: a disagreement, an illness or loss, a frustrating email, a rise in prices. Such challenging events happen to everyone.

Times of major change or transition can seem especially daunting, and even endless. Like everyone, I would prefer to feel safe and secure and to keep my life the same as it was when all seemed well and easy. And, as a senior in today’s fast-paced technological age, I find myself in a world that sometimes moves too quickly. Nowadays it seems I’m looking for information when few answers are comforting and there are always still more questions.

As a movement educator, I know how to connect with my positive thoughts. When I’m feeling frightened, frustrated, or angry, I’m also aware that my human brain has the capacity to be a worst-case thought machine. Sometimes I need to remind myself to notice when the words and feelings coming up for me are very old and all too familiar—not even based in my current day-to-day reality.

Why am I thinking such thoughts? Why am I so ready to defend, run away, or simply ignore it all? This isn’t me. Oh yes, it is! I realize from my experience with these issues that it works best if I don’t attach to these feelings or attempt to control them. Rather I allow myself to see them as part of a clearing of things from the past, and give myself as much loving kindness as possible. I find that the less I resist, the quicker and smoother the transition will be.

I best remember this by doing the Hook-ups exercise, which I have shared with parents, educators, and students in more than 20 countries during the last 40 years. I find that doing Hook-ups for myself is a good way to shift my state of mind, in a minute or so, from one of stress, tension, or anxiety to one of calm and ease.

Here’s how to do Hook-ups, Part 1: Sitting or standing, cross your ankles. Extend your arms in front of you and cross one wrist over the other; then interlace your fingers and draw your clasped hands up toward your chest. Breathe, holding your tongue against the roof of your mouth as you inhale deeply, releasing your tongue as you exhale.

At this point in the Hook-ups process, I often notice that my shoulders, which might have been taking on a raised posture of defense, are now relaxing down. My hands are resting over my heart, allowing my breathing to deepen and expand into the back of my rib cage. I can breathe and let go of my concerns as I rest my arms and legs and settle into my body’s relaxed center, experiencing a feeling that all is well.

I imagine that my brain reads my body language and says to itself: I must be calm and safe or else Paul would be holding his breath and reflexively using his arms and legs to fight, push away, or run. Instead, I am tending to and befriending myself: resting and restoring in my inner spaciousness. I sigh, my muscles relax, the stream of words subsides. I appreciate the calm equanimity of a resilient physiology that keeps providing for me even during challenging times.

Here’s how to do Hook-Ups, Part II: Placing your feet flat on the floor, untwine your arms and put your fingertips together. While I’m enjoying the profound relaxation of Hook-ups, I can trust my inner guidance to help me create best-case scenarios. In this place of conscious awareness, I can visualize and imagine the best outcomes for my life. I notice the old thoughts slowly fading away as I see new possibilities before me. I’m often then inspired to take action or to do something I might never before have thought about doing.

Many of my best ideas and insights for work, family, and play—those that have filled my heart and brain with light, peace, and gratitude for all my life’s blessings—have occurred during a minute or two spent doing Hook-ups. I owe much to this simple activity and the space it provides me for positive growth, allowing me to feel surrounded by love and support even during times of the most uncertainty.


***For more information about Hook-ups as well as the other Brain Gym activities, see Brain Gym®: Teacher’s Edition by Paul and Gail Dennison, © 2010.

Hooks-ups and other Brain Gym® activities are taught in Brain Gym® 101: Balance for Daily Life, and other Edu-K courses.

© 2013 by Paul Dennison. All rights reserved. 

Brain Gym® is a trademark of the Educational Kinesiology Foundation/Brain Gym® International. Click here for the name of an instructor in your area.



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