Brain Dumping 101 & why you need to start yesterday.
Awhile back, I was an avid hot-yogi & runner. I’d put in about two and a half hours on my mat, sweating and twisting and stretching, and then go run a few miles along the Hudson River in New York City where I was living at the time - casual workout routine for a gal who also spent 10 hours a day as an upscale Barista in Manhattan - an incredibly, physically demanding job.
I was in the best shape of my life and I was also the most mentally anxious and depressed I’ve ever been. I hated my body. All I could think about was how I was going to get a good sweat & workout in, how hungry I was (because I ate about three pieces of broccoli a day), and whether I was at my slimmest that day.
Every time I passed a mirror, I’d stare at my stomach, suck in and dream of the day when I’d see that sucked in version of myself reflected back with no effort. I had intense anxiety attacks over leaving the house if I had any sort of a bloat in my tummy. It took me ages to choose an outfit in the morning. I cancelled plans with friends and dates with guys that I adored all the time. And this insane body image distortion and obsession ruled my life.
In truth, I was so scared of taking up my personal space of power and authenticity in the world that getting as physically small as possible was really just me trying to wither away in the background where no one would notice how lost and scared I was.
One day I picked up a copy of Julia Cameron’s The Artist's Way with a desire to book more acting gigs. I’d had a lifelong journaling practice, but her program introduced me to a new idea: Brain dumping.
I resisted it at first, but the more I started my day with a hefty brain dump, the less I cancelled plans, the more comfortable I felt in my body and at work, meaning I made more tips, and life just got better. I started to see I was obsessing over the same things every morning, and how much of my life was consumed by worrying over my body. No wonder I felt exhausted and creatively drained all the damn time!
Over time I came to understand that in order to feel good, not only did I need to sweat out the physical toxins in my body, I needed to release the mental bullshit swimming around in my mind. When I did, I felt lighter, freer, and stronger not just in my life, but workouts as well.
Take a second and pause.
Imagine your mind like a big apartment.
For every day of your life thus far, an item has been added to this apartment. Depending on how old you are, there’s probably quite a lot of stuff piled up right now. And it’s time to figure out which ones are meant to stay, and which ones need to get tossed.
We don’t tend to pay attention to this space and its regular cleaning because we’ve got work, and friends, and things like keeping ourselves in shape and healthy to spend our time attending to. We’re so busy, we aren’t really home very often so it’s fine. And since we’re out and about doing other things, we just don’t notice - and if we do, we’ve got another activity to keep us moving forward.
As our lives get more stressful and complicated, we’re so caught up and busy with making things happen that we often miss the direct link between the building clutter of the apartment in our head and our difficulty to move about the world in the way we desire.
Lucky you, that practice Julia Cameron shares in The Artist's Way is something that you can start right now and is all you need to get started on cleaning up that apartment in your head.
Here's how you're going to start right now:
1. Grab a pen, a paper, and a timer.
2. Set the timer for 15 minutes.
3. Put the pen to the blank page and start writing. DO NOT STOP for the entirety of the 15 minutes.
You’re dumping - not writing a best selling memoir. It doesn’t need to be pretty. Sometimes all you’ve got to say is, “this is stupid, I want to be eating cake.” And sometimes you’ve got poems and dreams and infinity in your pen.
4. Repeat tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that after that...and you get the point.
Common points of frustration brain dumping can help alleviate:
- Motivation to work out
- Self discipline with eating
- Clarity & focus in work
- Empowered articulation of wants, needs & desires - which leads to everything (fiery intimacy, promotions, flexibility, vacations, etc)
The day I started brain dumping was the day I committed to something outside of just looking good. I committed to feeling good. And putting in the time to cultivate a Self that moves through the world in a body that I’m proud of and with a mind that is able to show up in joy - and always find my way back when I forget.
Brain dumping allowed me to see how scared I was of being lost, honor where I was at, and finally start walking back toward where I wanted to be rather than just standing in the lonely shadows of helplessness.
Don't sabotage the incredible work you’re putting in day in and day out to live in the healthiest, sexiest body you never thought possible by letting the mental chatter take you out.
Start to train your brain with daily dumping today. Make it a daily habit. It can be whenever works best for you. Morning, noon, night, on the bus. Just do it.
And I'm curious! Have you ever struggled with anxiety? How has it affected your relationship with your body? What has helped you find comfort and peace with both? Let me know in the comments below!! <3
And if you love this idea and would like some more structured guidance to ease the start of your brain dumping practice click here and download a copy of my book, The Unapologetic You, filled with LOADS of prompts, questions, and points to ponder.