Why I Love Going To The Dentist
By Janet Joyce, Ph.D.
There I was sitting in the dentist’s chair, tilted backward with loud suction devices and smelly rubber equipment sticking out of my mouth, when I made a startling realization. “I don’t need to be here,” I thought. So, without any fanfare at all, I left.
It’s probably not what you think. I did not get up out of the chair, or leave the dental office. At least not physically. What I did instead was I used some of the techniques that I learned at the Monroe Institute’s Excursion Workshop to change my focused awareness to an altered state.
By doing so, I could very effectively leave my physical body behind (for dental repairs) while I traveled to a relaxed and comfortable non-physical location for a little psychic R and R.
It was by far the most fun I have ever had getting a filling, and I’d like to share just a taste of how I was able to make that leap.
Just Relax and Let Go
We all have lots of practice shifting our level of awareness from one thing to another. In fact, we do it so often that we typically don’t notice we’ve done it, let alone pay attention to how we did it.
Think of a time you were sitting and reading a very good book when the phone rang or you heard a siren in the distance. Regardless of how deeply you were involved in the plight of the characters in the story, the sudden noise caused you to naturally change the focus of your awareness. One moment you were paying attention to something and a moment later it was no longer the center of your awareness.
The same principle can be applied to any situation, even the dental office. When I walked into the office all of my attention was squarely focused on the task at hand. I knew I would be sitting in that chair, and I imagined with excruciating detail all that would follow.
Then, when I realized I didn’t need to be there, I shifted my thoughts and emotions away from where they had been focused. I relaxed my body and then I released my attention from physical reality.
How to Shift Your Awareness
While you may not know the specific methods taught in the workshop, you can practice an easy attention-shifting technique that will give you a sample of what I am talking about by following these steps.
- Sit in a familiar chair in a relaxed and comfortable body position.
- Allow yourself to close your eyes and breath deeply a few times.
- Listen to your breath. Feel your stomach filling with air and expanding and contracting. Relax yourself completely.
- Now, allow your focus to observe the many different sounds, smells, and even feelings you are experiencing. Feel the softness of the chair beneath your hands. Hear the sound of the clock ticking in the background. Smell the freshness of the air, or the aroma of the coffee still brewing in the distant kitchen.
- Take a moment now and try to shift your attention back and forth between the various sensations you just noticed. Focus only on the clock for a moment. Now, only on the fresh air as you fill your lungs. And just for a moment, only focus on how relaxed your shoulders feel.
You have just practiced shifting your awareness between your senses, and you have begun the process of learning how to let one experience into the forefront and shifting all the others into the background.
Where to Go Next
Once you recognize how this is done, you can try this same technique in other situations where shifting your awareness can be of help to you.
Have you ever found yourself frustrated sitting in a traffic jam? Next time that happens see if you can shift your focus from the frustration of the traffic to something else that is more pleasant. Notice the rays of the sun shining on the distant hillside, or how the extra time is allowing you to be alone with your thoughts. If you can do this, you are on the right track to learning how to turn even a very stressful situation into an enjoyable moment .
Of course these techniques are learned in much more detail in the Excursion Workshop, where you can actually experience the shift of consciousness to other states, but now you have a sample of what’s possible with some of these methods. With practice, you too can leave the dental chair behind and travel off to experience other far more pleasant adventures.
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