Does your inner life feel like the intense weather systems circling the planet right now?
A collision of late winter storms and the upwelling energy of spring. Fits and starts. Push and pull. Highs and lows. Clarity and ambiguity. An increasing sense of urgency like an inner barometric pressure. You aren’t alone.
Our ancestors moved at the speed of nature. The human heartbeat, blood pressure, movement of arms and legs, use of voice, and language were intertwined with the patterns of hunting and gathering, seeding and harvesting, cooking and blessing, and making ceremonies.
The cycles of the sun and moon, movement of stars, and the earth’s seasons were reflected in the human parasympathetic nervous system. When the winter came, the earth slept, and the people quieted. When the spring grew, so did village life. Time was open, free, and wild like nature herself. There was no such thing as too much or too little time. Life is what happened in the timeless embrace of the ongoing story of the human and more than human world as it was lived in the moment.
The moment included three things: the past, the present, and the future. It was not just a tiny sliver of possibility standing alone like an orphan whose only use was to be consumed and forgotten to its replacement, the next moment. The now possesses all of time within it; that past, present and future becomes the doorway to infinity.
Time has become a commodity in the modern world. It’s scarce and therefore valuable. There’s always one more thing to buy, sell or possess. We’re bombarded with information like “The Four Hour Work Week” or the “501 Time Saving Tips That Everyone Should Know” or “Quick and Easy ________.” Time has been reduced to an itty-bitty computer nanosecond in which you are expected to do it all and have it all. Is anyone surprised that over 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide every day? Our caffeine dependency helps us to keep pushing, doing, willing, striving into what Larry Dossey, MD calls “hurry sickness.” The modern human lives in the fight or flight response, a state of stress, that research has proven leads to chronic degenerative disease.
The pace of our modern world is the fastest in human history. It’s become normal to keep ourselves overbooked and overextended. Our brains can juggle work tasks, child care, meal planning, socializing, and studying for a PhD all at the same time, but our adrenals are more primitive than our brains and they cannot handle this. If even when you take the time to have a really good night’s sleep you still feel that hungover feeling (core exhaustion) upon waking, it’s possible this is due to early stage adrenal fatigue.
Individuals now tend to view relaxation the way they view happiness – an elusive state that will happen to them some day as if by magic. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The root word of “relaxation” is “relax” – a verb. That’s right – relaxing is an action that can’t happen to you. You must happen to it. While we all deal with external stressors – toxic work environments, bad relationships, politics – for most of us, our primary stress is internal. It’s a habit, just like biting your nails. You become addicted to the adrenaline rush from stress from high-pressure challenges, so you may even add sabotaging behaviors to existing challenges, such as procrastinating deadlines, to ramp up your adrenaline levels even more.
Choose to bend time. Inhabit the spaciousness of your senses and reconnect with your inner nature.
Close your eyes. Imagine a place that makes you feel calm. Really see the colors, feel its textures, hear the sounds associated with this place. Feel yourself attuned to, and inhabited by this calm place. It is no longer outside of you; it is in you. Think a word that describes this place. Hold this word and your calm place together, and feel the shift.
Do this frequently throughout your day.
Yours in psyche and spirit,
If you missed my feature article on Goop last month on “How To Break Through Loneliness and Find Your Tribe,” check it out here.
On newsstands now is the spring edition of Mantra Wellness. Just as we practice yoga to open our physical bodies, we need wellness practices to open our spiritual selves. This is a terrific issue, packed full of practices and tips for whole living. Check out my article on Tending Soul Injury in a climate of ongoing national grief over gun violence and beyond.
Finally, I’m so happy to be a featured contributor in Chris Grosso’s latest book. In his recovery from drugs and alcohol, Chris Grosso has stumbled, staggered, and started all over again. In an effort to understand why he relapses, and why many of us return to the myriad of other self-defeating behaviors despite our better judgment, he went to best-selling authors, spiritual teachers, psychologists, doctors, and more and asked them why we tend to repeat mistakes in our lives, even when we know these actions will harm us and the ones we love. You can find it here.