Written by Michael Mantz, M.D.
One of the fundamental skills to develop your overall 6th sense capabilities is a skill I call Going Elemental. Going Elemental is the process of noting your bodily sensations and describing them using basic primary descriptors. This process keeps your attention focused on the direct experience of your sensations and trains your mind’s inner commentator to use primary descriptors (see below for examples) rather than its conditioned interpretations and judgments about the sensations. Most of these interpretations & judgments were trained into your mind when you were growing up and are often filled with biases which create errors on how you perceive the sensations in your body.
One example to illustrate this point is when we experience chronic anxiety. When we experience chronic anxiety, it tends to create a repeating mind pattern filled with fearful interpretations and judgments (IJs) that often reinforce and amplify the experience of anxiety. After a while, these (IJs) tend to inflate the degree of discomfort we experience when having sensations that we deem uncomfortable. These IJs have a propensity to spread and become linked to bodily sensations that are more neutral or are arising from other emotions that are often misinterpreted as anxiety.
One common pattern for those of us who experience chronic anxiety is having increasing difficulty distinguishing the experience of anxiety with the experience of excitement. Since many of the sensations of excitement (increased heart rate & breathing, increased energy in the body, increased feelings to want to move your body) overlap with the sensations of anxiety, people with chronic anxiety will often misinterpret excitement with anxiety. This creates unnecessary discomfort and rather than being more energized and motivated when excitement is evoked, the mind’s misinterpretation of excitement with anxiety creates an unpleasant experience that often causes functional impairment.
The Going Elemental process is like dipping under the wave of your mind’s conditioned IJs and trains your mind’s attention to go back into the unconditioned direct experience of your body’s sensations. Using primary descriptors rather than IJs, you train your mind’s commentator to substitute its tendency to interpret and judge your bodily sensations with neutral descriptors. This practice, over time, weakens your minds conditioned IJ tendencies and allows the opportunity for your mind to experience your body in a more direct way. By going elemental, you decondition or weaken old outdated mind patterns to allow for the possibility for more accurate and precise appraisal of your body’s sensations.
Below is my Going Elemental basics summary sheet that I give to my patients to help guide them on how to develop this fundamental 6th sense skill.
Practice: Down/Up (DU) Body scanning – Bring your attention into your head and let it gently go down and scan your body at a rate that feels comfortable. As your attention goes downwards, note any areas of sensations that match the descriptors below. Let your attention go all the way down until you reach your feet. Next reverse the process and bring the attention from your feet upwards until you reach your head. Use (DU) body scanning for Parts 1 and 2 below.
1) Explore: The 3 Opposites
Tight – Loose (scan downwards and then upwards noting areas of tightness and looseness)
Warm – Cool (scan D/U noting areas of warmth and coolness)
Heavy – Light (scan D/U noting areas of heavy and lightness)
Interpretations & Judgments – Tag & Return – Note when your mind generates spontaneous interpretations (anxiety, depression, uncomfortable) and judgments (I don’t like this, I hate this, This is terrible/bad/horrible, I can’t stand this) and simply label them (tagging) as either interpretations or judgments and then return your attention back to the sensations. Use primary descriptors instead of the interpretations or judgments.
1b) Intensity (0 – 10): Go through the 3 pairs of opposites again and note the areas that match the sensation and give it an intensity score from 0-10.
2) Explore: Movement Sensations
Constricting Swirling (clockwise or counterclockwise)
Dropping/Sinking – Rising
Coming to the surface – Going in deeper
Use DU Body scanning (similar to how you explored the 3 opposites) and let your attention notice areas in your body where you feel sensational movements and describe them (consider writing these down).
Tip: Think of yourself as an alien scientist who has never experienced what its like to have a human body. You are exploring the body and its spontaneous sensations and describing them with primary descriptors such as the ones above. Once you get the feel of using these terms you can gradually add more descriptors to expand your sensational vocabulary.