In Times of Stress, Walk Out Of Your Body
Straddling the end of winter and the beginning of spring,
March has always been a hectic month -- a month of reckoning
as it were -- when last year's issues must be faced head on.
Income tax returns must be filed, and spring cleaning ( both
inside and out) tend to become a logistical nightmare. This
March, I had a personal difficulty to work through as well
and for a while it seemed as though the world was an unending
series of burdens. It was then that I tried a strategy that
I had read about in Wayne Dyer's book, "Your Sacred Self "(
1996): in times of turbulence, walk out of your body!
I began by imagining that I had walked out of my body and
that I was looking at myself as though I were another being.
This took some practice because the tendency of the mind was
to stay within the ego and I had to keep reminding my mind
that I was outside looking in, not inside looking out. After
a while, the exercise became more fluid and I was able to
maintain this "observer" position with greater ease.
I began with a side view of my body, imagining myself as I
would appear to someone who was watching me from the side.
I went from head to feet-- acknowledging the angle of head,
hair, shoulders, slant of body and even the way my legs were
crossed at the ankles. Then I went through the whole process
again this time adding the colors of my hair, shirt, pants,
socks and slippers. And then in my mind's eye, I walked backward
a step or two, pretending that I was seeing "me" for the first
time. What did I see?
"A being who is overwhelmed emotionally"
What did I sense about this being?
"She need not fret so much; she is perhaps a bit overdramatic
about her situation, but it is not the end of the world. After
all, this too will pass."
The remarkable thing was that as an outsider, I received immediate
confirmation that all suffering was temporary. From an observer's
point of view, the person suffering was not the self. Just
seeing "me" as another being allowed me to feel the temporariness
of the situation. I then placed myself (as observer) in a
different location -- up on the ceiling and I imagined my
body as it would appear to someone floating above. Then I
went through the same process, digesting my being from that
The more I played this game with myself, the more I was released
from whatever worries I had in the first place. The overwhelming
conviction was that I was larger than what stood before me
and that all this fretting and worry would pass. Outside my
body, I could feel a sense of limitless possibility that seemed
impossible to sustain inside( the body). It seemed as though
I had been suddenly released into an open field. The expanse
of the spirit was everywhere, especially when I broke through
the ceiling and roof and took a wild and fantastic circle
around the skies.
Children do this everyday and we have a lot to learn from
them: they use the imaginal to tame the real. If we examine
the practice itself, we can see that there are several reasons
why walking out of your body can be a sound strategy for diffusing
1. Placing yourself in a third-party observer point of view
makes allowance for the distance that is so crucial to an
accurate assessment of any situation. How often have we remembered
a past wrong in the light of distance and time and recognized
the folly of our grievance? Our judgment is often dimmed by
an experience that is too raw and close to us. Walking out
of our body allows us to tame that rawness.
2 .If experience is recorded as cellular memories in our bodies,
then getting a distant, less distorted perspective is not
only important, but critical to our survival as intact and
holistic beings. Fred Allan Wolf in "Mind Into Matter" (2001)
refers to our bodies as "living scripts": "at the level of
the body, the observed and the observer are the same thing."
Would you prefer an observation that burns everything to the
ground or one that hatches an escape route through the ceiling?
Would you prefer a script that leaves you a victim, paralyzed
by fear or one that allows you to take the reins in your hands
and gives you a shot at turning the situation around? My almost
5 grandson understands this totally; he is a master inventor
of escape routes and his favorite stories have always been
those where the hero found a way out, a wormhole though the
3. Walking out of our body allows us to raise our threshold
to stress. Stressful events are an inevitable and unavoidable
part of life. While removal of stressors is often impossible,
raising our threshold to what is bearable for us is more than
a viable possibility. Raising our threshold is like breaking
though a barrier -- what was once unthinkable becomes plausible.
What once caused pain and furor becomes not only understandable,
but accepted as part of our evolutionary process. The advantage
we have to seeing our burden as a necessary part of a larger
dynamic is that we have grown large enough to accommodate
it within our system. We have grown because we can now metabolize
it; we are ready now to transform it (the pain) into something
greater than itself, something creative and inspiring. This
is only possible when we can take the pain outside us and
place it within a larger and evolutionary context.
Instead of succumbing to the sweet song of victimization (who
does not enjoy the "poor me" chant?), a more effective strategy
when confronted by stress, is to walk out of your body because
that immediately places your pain in perspective.
Copyright © 2006 Mary Desaulniers
A runner for 27 years, retired schoolteacher and writer,
Mary Desaulniers is helping people reclaim their bodies.
Nutrition, exercise, positive vision and purposeful engagement
are the tools used to turn their bodies into creative selves.
You can visit her at www.GreatBodyat50.com
or learn how she lost her weight at www.greatbodyproteinpower.com