We are all familiar with stress. Stress ebbs and flows. Stress comes in a variety of forms – physical, emotional, spiritual, work, relationships, environmental – you name it. And stress can come from perceived positive events or perceived negative events. It is how we respond to these heightened stretches of intensity that determines the ease with which we move through them. AND, given the attention, your body will tell you just how you’re responding.
This last year has been an active one for me, as far as changes go both external and internal. I was doing pretty well for a while, taking things as they came, incorporating self-care and maintaining what I thought was a good perspective on the stress that I was experiencing.
There were a lot of things, however, that I slowly started to do differently as I adjusted to a busier yet more solitary life. I learned how to eat faster and eat while multitasking. Those who know me well would say this is a feat in and of itself as I am ALWAYS the last one at the table chewing….chewing…and chewing. I rushed more often, which is very frazzling for my sensitive nervous system. I took less time to exercise and spent more time alone, becoming more self-reliant which meant finding my confidence – my voice. At other times I was just inundated with my chattering, monkey mind. Eventually I hit a wall, and I knew this because of what my body was telling me. My low back, particularly on the right side, is my “canary in the coal mine”. When I develop pain here I know I’m becoming destabilized. If it’s ignored, then it will scream louder into my leg and then up my spine to deliver a big, fat headache. If it’s to this point, then my digestion will become less efficient, breath shallow and lastly my thoughts will be of a lower vibration. What I realized was that I was pushing myself beyond my means and looking through a lens of scarcity, of “not enough” fill in the blank. I had become contracted. I am so grateful to my body for communicating this so loudly and clearly.
The language of my body reconnects me to my still point (my center). Once I feel the ground beneath my feet I can mobilize my energy toward health and balance by bringing my awareness back to my breath, nourishment, self-care and back to the flow of abundance. This can take very little time if caught soon enough. When I’m to the point of negative or default thought patterns this can take a little more time but is a beautiful journey, nonetheless. As I reconnect with my Self and others, receive care from amazing practitioners and experience my body/mind, then I begin to expand and find peace – back pain dissipates, digestion balances, thoughts elevate. I’ve also learned that it’s okay to ask for help and most of all, to treat myself with kindness and compassion.
There is a speech by an unnamed Hopi elder that I love. When I am in a state of destabilization, this is where I find my anchor and remember what’s important to me.
A Hopi Elder Speaks
“You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour, now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour. And there are things to be considered . . .
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.”
Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said, “This could be a good time!”
“There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are torn apart and will suffer greatly.
“Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above water. And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, Least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
“The time for the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word struggle from you attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
— attributed to an unnamed Hopi elder
Hopi Nation, Oraibi, Arizona
Here are some other ways that help me listen and move toward balance:
• Ground – I like to embody a tree with roots extending into the earth
• Practice self-awareness
a. Connect to my breath- Noticing w/o judgment.
b. Connect to my body – head to toe scan. Noticing w/o judgment.
c. Connect to my mind – Scarcity or abundance? Contracted or Expanded?
• Train the brain to become more positive (from Shawn Achor presentation): Do 21 days in a row
- 3 Gratitudes daily
- Journal about positive experience had in last 24 hrs
- Exercise—teaches the brain that behavior matters
- Meditation—allows the brain to focus
“Conscious acts of kindness–Positive Psychology – Shawn Achor/Ted Talks”
• Honor where you are– it’s all good information! Treat yourself with kindness and compassion.
• Take action – do what’s within your power to move you closer to where you want to be. Be patient and let go of the rest!
I never would’ve thought back pain could be this good!
Tobyanna Everhart, LMP