Are you ready to wake up?
In a deep meditation at the weekend I was taken back to the moment of human conception and shown the exquisite intricacies of the human body. It felt very humbling to see how the body is formed and how this incredible machine works for us. And it started me thinking about the impact of stress and anxiety that we put on ourselves. How we numb ourselves with a variety of different tools - and from a very young age, albeit subconsciously.
The environments that we are brought up in - and this is not a criticism towards family or friends or school - have such an impact on us. From the moment we are born there are words, protocol, expectation, rules, to name just a few. It’s no wonder the mind gets so full of conflict.
For example if we are brought up in a family where there is a lot of arguing, the child develops a self protection system of going within so as to keep themselves safe. And this applies to all sorts of environments - being brought up in a family where on the outside it all looked so calm and loving but in reality the parents weren’t emotionally available to you; or there may have been an alcoholic in the family, or physical or emotional abuse - or bullying at school - in any of these environments the child learns to withdraw to keep themselves safe. Dr Gabor Mate has done a vast amount of research on the impact of the family environment, how it impacts on the child and how it can lead to disease; how the trauma isn’t the event itself but the trauma is how the child learns to cope and then uses those coping mechanisms throughout life to shut him or herself down to keep safe. Hiding any feelings of vulnerability.
If we are stressed and anxious, and often we run on auto pilot in this state, our bodies contract and when we’re contracted, the hormonal flow of the body is governed by contraction. The body’s hormonal flow changes and will be flooded with mainly cortisol, adrenaline and testosterone. These flood into the system and create a change with how the body functions - setting it up ready to try to escape. We have different ways of trying to escape - escape can be aggression; or rejection; or we might use tools like pleading or crying; or escaping into work or food. We have all kinds of ways that we manage. For many of us, we are stressed and in that place of contraction within the body in the long term.
If we are stressed and contracted everything is short and tight and if we are relaxed and open hearted everything is open - and in a nano second you can shut it down again or open it up just by how you think or by what is going on around you. The skill is being able to recognise that you’re not present in that moment - the skill is watching how quickly you get triggered. Something that can help with understanding this is having compassionate curiosity each time this happens - not asking why but asking yourself what is this experience teaching you. What is inside me that is being triggered by this situation.
I am fascinated by the language of our bodies and am understanding and researching more and more how vitally important it is to learn the language of the body. If we continue to ignore it, if we continue to numb it through work, alcohol, food, drugs, shopping - the body becomes overloaded and that’s when illness strikes. There may be little niggles to start with, which we often dismiss or ignore, and then they grow to be a little more persistent until we reach a stage where we cannot ignore them any longer.
It is so, so important to think about the impact this has on us as humans and when we don’t honour and respect ourselves - how exhausted it leaves us and frustrated and sometimes furious - and all of this has an impact on our bodies. So the next time you find yourself getting annoyed about something and find it difficult to express it make some time to check in with yourself to find out more about what that story is about - and check in with how you honour you and your unique, beautiful, individual self.