Perspectives and Reflections
Words Are Spells; That's Why We Call It "Spelling"
If we may apply computer terminology (ish), we can approach the words we use as the basis of the programming language that directs our nervous systems to react/respond as if we may potentially be in danger, or may trigger our reward systems, and thus direct our bodies to do whatever they do as a result of that stimulus/information/data.
The words/language we use may also help us achieve/remain neutral, when neutrality is called for.
Be aware of the language you use, and how those words and strings of words affect your nervous system. Recognize if your "alert" system is set off, or your "reward" system; and then by practicing neutrality, look at the situation again, and determine whether or not you are actually in danger, or whether or not what is activating your reward system is safe to engage in.
Depending on our conditioning from the womb, through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, paired with genetics, our systems may interpret danger when there is none, and interpret reward when there is actually danger.
Neutrality helps us observe the situation/emotional state from an objective place, and allows us to look at the bigger picture; and not just at how we are affected, but everyone in relation to us, regarding that particular situation, as well.
We are consciousness residing in vessels guided by our nervous systems, which vary based on conditioning.
There is no "right" or "wrong" about any of it, just difference.
It's more about what may be potentially "dangerous" or "safe".
What we each perceive as "dangerous" and "safe" and whether or not it's "worth the risk" varies with each individual on the planet. That's a lot of variety! So it's okay to be ourselves*--who we "are being" will shift and change over time with the changing parameters of our environments and our conscious/unconscious responses and actions.
*As long as "being ourselves" means making choices that don't cause intentional self-harm or harm to others. We all make mistakes. We often learn the most from the times we hurt ourselves and/or others. That's ok. Intentional, non-consensual harm is not.
My hopes are that soon we can all come together on the concept of collaboration, which may be possible when we perceive each other as "friends" instead of "enemies".
That requires our nervous systems directing our bodies to engage with/in a "safe" vs. "dangerous" world--yes there may be challenges; yes there may be the absence of resources in some places and abundance in others; yes there may be imbalance--but ultimately, we are safer than we've ever been, even with the threat of nuclear war and economic breakdown. We have many tools that could facilitate collaboration, if we are willing to share them with each other.
It is important to acknowledge that, and appreciate how far we have come; while appreciating how much further we have to go. It's daunting and enticing at the same time.
It's living on this li'l blue, green, and brown marble we share. And it can be glorious, and terrible. And wonderful.
We may face the challenges together, when we do our parts to take care of ourselves, and better understand how our bodies work in relation to the world around us, inside and out.
We are doing it every day.
The Seeking of Altered States + Validation;
Consciously Practicing Conscious Breathing
As consciousness residing within vessels that are compelled by various impulses, we may over time become aware of patterns of compulsion.
Some of our natural impulses are much to our benefits; learning to listen to and trust our intuitions--the gut instincts that guide our nervous systems to direct our muscles to do or not do (check out the Polyvagal Theory on Wikipedia for some interesting insight on how we do indeed respond from the gut) is a necessity, if we are working towards allowing our vessels to run on auto-pilot: trusting that they know to navigate away from danger and toward that which we would enjoy experiencing along the ride--a path that serves us.
Compulsions, on the other hand, tend to be uncontrollable urges that we give into, even when we consciously know that the actions/behaviors we are engaging in, likely don't benefit us (and sometimes negatively affect the people around us, as well.)
The "why" of each specific compulsion varies with each individual, based on our experiences; our coping mechanisms develop via an inextricable combination of nature and nurture. Our genetics paired with environmental pressures, plus role modeling of coping mechanisms, help to set the base coping/compulsion programs in motion. Our microbiome is another factor.
Add in random.
The compulsion is there because it provides either one, or both, of two things: an altered state, and/or validation. Usually a combination of both, because the sensation of "feeling validated" can be perceived as an altered state, and achieving an altered state can feel validating.
Neutral is the baseline.
Steady relaxed heart rate; somewhere between low to moderate blood pressure.
Detached, while curious; open and questioning--calmly seeking connection and synchronicity...appreciating...
That's the goal, anyhow...By becoming aware of our compulsions, and deciding what we want to do INSTEAD of that particular compulsive behavior, puts us ever closer to trusting ourselves to effortlessly make choices that benefit our selves and those around us, as well.
Not just effortlessly--thoughtlessly.
Thoughtlessly taking care of ourselves so well, since we are so engaged with enjoying our lives that we don't "require the effort," because we're already doing it anyway.
It is pertinent to acknowledge that individuals/vessels in pain may seek altered states more often than vessels that don't experience it with as much frequency--whether the discomfort be physical or emotional.
Where there is physical pain, there is often emotional pain--the nervous system, interpreting danger, is more sensitive and highly attuned to perceiving sources of "attack". The presence of chronic pain limits the bandwidth of the individual experiencing the pain; one's coping skills are reduced. The pressure is too much...our cup runneth over....
We all have our own personal stories, our own journeys on this road of life.
We experience stress, that increases our sense of "absence of" whatever, and we don't like to feel absence, so we fill it with what we have programmed/learned works for us. Compulsion is the coping mechanism.
What matters most is, "what will I do instead?"
There was a phase where I found altered states/validation through performance--singing/song writing, poetry writing and recitation, acting, firedance (adrenaline!)...even sex...but that required other people to validate me; eventually the act of creation was rewarding enough, and an audience wasn't so much required as much as a special treat...but that still required some sort of complex action/thought process to achieve...and when I don't feel compelled to create, I don't force myself to.
Sometimes we need to be still.
Something simpler and more ever present...breath. Absolutely necessary.
We do it all the time, right? But not consciously.
Whenever I remember to, I breathe. Consciously breathe.
Slow, deep breaths; as steady as I can keep them--so my nervous system acknowledges that I am safe.
When I focus on conscious breathing for a few minutes, I get to experience an altered state--thanks to that lovely oxygen, I feel elevated. Partly, because my nerves are getting enough oxygen, so they turn off their "warning! O2 levels low!" alert, and partly, because my nervous system, recognizing that I am safe, has directed more of my muscles to disengage, resulting in less tension in my body.
The less tension there is in my body, the easier it is for me to move through space, because there is less pressure on my system, internally.
The less pressure there is on my system, the more bandwidth I have available to experience that which is outside of myself, and derive my altered states through experiences like appreciating the beauty of nature, or a bird sailing through the sky. Validation is experienced every time I see who I am, now, based on the thoughts, actions, and words that result from my interactions with that which appears to be outside myself.
My mind clears while I focus on my breath...really focus. Can't think of much else, so my mind feels open....
It becomes easier to practice neutrality and see many sides to every situation...hopefully leading toward mutually beneficial actions as a result...or inaction, and recognizing when that may be called for.
I acknowledge that there are cycles of expansion and contraction; I am learning to honor the cycles--for truly, "to everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven."
Our purposes will change as the seasons change.
Some of us experience more seasons than others, and their cycling with greater frequency, and speed--especially if, and when, we choose to do so.
Meta-speak; Metaphor is/as a Tool
Metaphors are stories; they help us learn.
I like stories; my stories are influenced by stories that already exist in the world--in some ways by what some people may call religions, and who may be attached to a specific/particular belief system.
Often these belief systems are inculcated through the local socio-cultural programs that are running in the home and local community/state/country.
Some folks are raised with a certain belief structure, and decide to follow others...and then other folk choose to acknowledge the inherent values found in all belief systems and let go of the aspects that conflict...thus finding the unity in all the tales.
Separate, individual threads; winding together to create an integrated and brightly colorful tapestry of perception, that allows room for All, as long as each allows room for the other.
In my minds eye, I see the structure of opal: uniform and even spheres, each whole and complete; each equal to the other; each the same while yet unique...and together, reflecting light in every direction. Rainbow flashes. Stunning.
My metaphors are my way of understanding how I interpret life, between consciousness and vessel/body; and share it.
I feel if a metaphor helps me to better understand myself and interpret life, I accept it as a useful tool. Perhaps it may be a useful tool for another.
And I do truly enjoy sharing tools.
I often speak in metaphor, and may also interpret incoming data (what my perception is paying attention to, outside of myself; merged with whatever current thoughts (if any) how they relate to each other) metaphorically.
So rather than "believing", I interpret via perceiving connections and somehow a unified storyline narrates my reality, moment to moment. Within that structure, all the data is valid, regardless of whether or not all of it is used.
I was raised within a fixed belief system structure, but it didn't work for me; as I child I could see how different perspectives didn't make other people "wrong"--they just made them different.
"Wrongness" is in the aspects of the belief systems that advocate violence against others, in any way, for any reason.
I love difference. I love stories. I love cultures that are rich in their lore and tales; they teach the same things over and over and over, in so many different ways, a vast spectrum of approaches....and to me, they are all saying the same things. They contain the same ideas and wisdom, expressed with such variety...a rich, colorful tapestry.
I have a story about the Tapestry, and the Eye of the Needle.
As we breathe, the Universe breathes.
The micro is the macro. The planet breathes.
We expand and contract.
The cycles of expansion and contraction each bring their own stories; and for new thread to be formed, the Tapestry must pass through the Eye of the Needle.
With the passage of each cycle, lessons are learned; we gather new tools, increase our skills with those that have served us well over time, and relinquish those that no longer serve us, so that we may have space/slack/room for the new that is all ways being bestowed upon us...the gifts of presence.
As the Tapestry (composed of AlLoveUs) passes through the eye of the needle, we are the most compressed; squished in together, and it's terribly uncomfortable...but as the Tapestry passes through, all that we relinquished together, is sloughed off.
Which is why it behooves us to pass through open-handed; and having trust that all the things are all the things we choose to bring.
And then a "new" thread, more intensely integrated and spectacularly colorful passes through on the other side.
Then we have the room to expand again, and with that inhale, an new tapestry creates itself....ever on, ever on, ever One.
From One Thread, composed of many strands--ALL of Us. ALL LOVE US. AlLoveUs.
May your story be full of all the glory that you choose to perceive and create.
May we ever elevate each other.
And in so doing, elevate ourselves.
And each other and ourselves and each other and ourselves.
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3
A Simple Sequence to "Reset" a Stressed Nervous System
We live on a changing planet, and the challenges many people are being faced with are intensifying. As individuals who survive the trauma of their life experiences, we gain coping skills...which help us handle more when more needs handlin'.
If our protective systems are engaged, but we're unable to give our bodies the physical action necessary for our systems to return to "safe" mode, we have to give them physical action; otherwise, we may remain in prolonged anxious states.
Mechanically raising our heart rates to faster bpm's than what our emotions raised them too, helps signal to our nervous systems that we "did the thing" and are "safe". Then our nervous systems tell our muscles, "Disengage;" which results in a more relaxed state than prior to exercise.
Twenty-five jumping jacks, or running in place for a minute while punching the air, can be enough to raise our heart rates sufficiently, as well as signal to our bodies that we both fought and fleed (did the thing).
For some people, that's sufficient to return them to a comfortable base-line; and move on to problem solving (or resting, if that is what is required).
Greater relaxation may be achieved by following the heart-rate raising activity with 3 minutes curled into the Child's Pose (face down fetal position). As we rest, safely curled into a protective posture, we focus on slowing down our breathing...slow inhale...slow exhale.
Then, we turn over onto our backs, and lay with our palms facing upward and open, legs extended; and continue our slow, deep breathing for another 2 minutes. Or longer, if you wish.
When you rise up, start by giving "high-5's" all around; if you wish to imagine the individuals you are high-fiving, go ahead...or don't, and just slap at the air up high, low, to the sides, to the front, to the back...so that by the time you're up, it feels like a frenzied gratitude dance.
Feel connected to the grid; even when you think you're alone, we're all ways all One--connected and interdependent.
Repeat as needed.
So I Am; I Am So
I am so hum bull bee hum.....So what's that all about?
A while ago, I noticed that I had a verbal pet peeve...I was quite irritated when I heard individuals end their sentences with "so," which grammatically, doesn't work...not that grammar is that important; there are other ways that language has shifted...different people have different ways of speaking, and most of the time, I'm not bothered by the differences.
But for whatever reason, that final "SO" bugged the heck out of me. Usually "so" is followed by something..."I saw ___, so then I...," in essence connecting two phrases.
At the beginning of a sentence, "So, I'm thinking about going to...," which is also technically incorrect--it's an informal use that is socially acceptable within familiar company. It's not being used as a connector, but rather as a dialogue initiator. "So, what do you want to do about ___?"
Ending a sentence with "so": "We didn't like the way the service was at that restaurant, so." So, what? So you talked to the manager? So you're never going back? "I got a bonus at work, and got myself a new car, so." So what? So now you're getting rid of the old one? So you don't have money now? So what? So nothing. That "so" should be a period.
Every instance I heard the unnecessary "so" at the end of a sentence, I lost a little bit of respect for that person.
I'm not proud of it. I didn't know why I cared so much about (in "so much," so is used as a quantifier) how that word was used (or to my mind, misused); and I didn't like how it shifted my interactions with the people who regularly used that device in their sentence structure. It brought out the judgey asshole in me. I hate being that me--because then I project onto the "offender."
Then, a friend who I love dearly picked up the "so"ing at the end of her sentences, like people do sometimes, and we hung out often enough that I noticed it, and cringed a little...but I didn't want to cringe....and I knew it was "my problem."
I love her, and I needed to shift my attitude; so I remembered "hum."
Many years ago, I read a book about Satya Sai Baba, where he mentioned that if one were to only choose one meditation/mantra to practice, that the So/Hum mantra is the one to choose.
Mantras can encapsulate many ideas/concepts/phrases into a few syllables. Similar to praying, but more efficient in that one syllable can hold within itself an entire prayer, or many prayers, if the meaning is ascribed to the syllable.
Syllables that have had specific meanings ascribed to them, and their symbolism agreed upon/shared by many people, over many generations, is thought--by some--to give those syllables, those mantras, greater power.
"So" means "I am." (Exhale)
"Hum" means "All That Is." (Inhale)
....in the simplest most broken down way; there is much more depth to each syllable's ascribed meaning, but for Satya Sai's purpose, and ours, it was a reminder to breathe, and with each breath remember our connection to the All that is, from the most humblest, tiniest perspective.
"I am: All That Is," not from a place of ego or pride or Godness; but from a place of being a small yet integral piece of the whole, experiencing a wonder of the enormity of All That Is, and gratitude for the acknowledgement of one's place within godness.
(g)odness being totality of the All That Is: being "god" (the sum whole of all parts); vs "God" the being, or being "a god."
I decided that if she ended with "So," then I followed with, "hum."
Every "so," a reminder that "I am"... a reminder to breathe, and to be present. Hum.
And then I thought to myself...perhaps even sang it aloud: "I am So, I am So, I am So..." And laughed when I realized it's, "I am I am, I am I am, I am I am...."
I am so
I am so hum
I am so hum...bull! Because KAT/Chao...and also, bullshit, b/c b.s. & belief systems go hand in hand...
I am so hum bull bee! Because "be humble" is a good reminder and the image of a bee stinging a bull to get him moving made me giggle.
I am so hum bull bee hum....hum....hum... And there is was, my new mantra, to help me focus and clear my mind, and remind me what's important to me, and also to bee silly...because humor is a wonderful implement in my toolbox.
Then one day, I was frustrated with other humans, as we can get sometimes; and I thought, "Ah, yes...not my shit....not my shift."
Not my shit: if it's not my responsibility, then why am I buggin' about something that doesn't directly/dramatically affect my sphere, other than my opinion/reaction to my perception of it? Naht mai shith. A new mantra.
Not my shift: once again, not my responsibility--I'm not "on duty, working a shift", nor is it my responsibility to make/force a shift/change within the sphere of another, especially if that sphere doesn't intersect with mine. Each person needs to make their own shifts within their own sphere. I will do what I can within my own sphere, because that is all I can do.
(Sometimes, all I can do is breathe. Our breath is, ultimately, the only thing we have control over. Conscious breath requires conscious thought and practice.)
Also, not my sheep: I am not responsible for this flock; I am not shepherd/leader/guide. Each person can be their own shepherd/leader/guide...and since that is a happy thought for me, and empowers me to be my own shepherd/leader guide, "Naht mai sheeft," served to capture both of those for me.
I am so hum bull bee hum
Naht mai shith; naht mai sheeft
I am so hum bull bee hum...hum....hum....hum...
So human. So hum ahn.
Chanting/singing out loud helps to strengthen the vagus nerve, which is directly related to calming down our nervous systems. This article, "How to Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve for Better Mental Health"gives some insight and additional tips to help support our nervous systems' recovery from stress.
There are mantras that have been repeated for thousands of years; if you want to seek those out and use them, go ahead and explore. If you want to create your own mantra, do that. Or both. I enjoy both, myself.
Om mani padme hum
Om na ma Shivaya
A Discordian Parable
As we walk along the road of life, we acknowledge that chaos is always present on the journey.
The Chao (Cow) won't let itself be led; if we try to walk in front of the Chao, it may run us over.
Sometimes, we need to be trampled by life; so that we may have compassion for those who we perceive to be "downtrodden."
If we walk beside the Chao, it senses our presence on the road, and may push us off into the ditch alongside the road.
Sometimes, we need to lay in the ditch; so we can lay still and admire the clouds in the sky during the day, and the stars at night...or watch ants march on in a line, as we listen to birds sing.
If we walk behind the Chao, we run the risk of getting kicked, or may step in a chao patty.
Sometimes we need life to kick us into gear, if we are stagnating; so then it becomes easier to change, because it hurts if we don't.
Chao shit can be good fertilizer.
Or we can ride the Chao.
The Chao can only be ridden with absolute trust--hands open--because the Chao will not be guided. As soon as we try to direct it, or it senses our presence, and bucks us off into the ditch.
There is no "holding on" to chaos.
The Chao can only be ridden in a completely relaxed state, because if we tense up, it feels the tension and knows we are there--and back in the ditch we go!
The Chao takes us to where we are going: to be; which is where we are, presently. Being. Rather effortlessly.
My Chao is fueled by laughter and mirth. My Chao is a happy Chao, because the goal of this Chao is to increase slack...allowing us all to keep expanding.
The way I stay relaxed on my ride, is by choosing to be surrounded by PHAT KATs and HOOPTEES; they make me laugh, too! The Chao is quantum, so there's plenty of space on her back. We have plenty of slack to grow, contract, expand, contract, explode, contract...
If my alert system goes off, and my nervous system directs my muscles to tense up, the Chao tosses me off; laying in the ditch gives me an opportunity to asses the situation and do what I need to do: honor my boundaries; express them as KATly as I can; chill; and get back on the Chao.
If I get too excited, and start hopping around with delight, the Chao tosses me off so I can do a happy dance in the ditch, and appreciate the moment for as long as I want to.
When I'm calm again, I can get back on the Chao.
Practicing neutrality is key to riding the Chao; in a neutral state, we are relaxed. Our muscles are disengaged, because their not excited by either danger or delight.
Like a warm glow in your tummy.
Mini-Hoops as Diagnostic Tools
Mini-hoops can serve many different purposes.
As they guide our bodies through the planes they move us through, with gentle, circular motion, they help stretch our fascia, warm our tissues, and increase synovial fluid production in our joints, which can increase our ranges of motion (RoM).
Hoops can also increase our awareness regarding our RoM; regular hoop play helps us feel what is going on in our bodies from day to day, as well as help work out stiffness in the process.
Hoops can help us "diagnose" our environments--if I'm someplace that my hoops aren't welcome, then I'm unlikely to navigate my vessel to that space with frequency (especially if it's not communicated respectfully!)
I have, so far, been asked to not play with my hoops in two places; once respectfully, and once rudely. I respected both--and the latter gave me an opportunity to express my boundaries regarding communication.
Mini-hoops can serve as a connector--an icebreaker that initiates conversation in between strangers, and brings us together in our shared humanity.
They can also serve as a shield.
When I'm in a new environment, I can experience social anxiety--the more people there are, the more anxious I may feel.
Playing with my hoop(s) gives me a way to express that nervous energy. If I don't want to be approached, then I will expand out into my sphere, which keeps folks at a 3-4 ft distance.
If/when I feel comfortable in a space, I will draw the hoops in and stay close to center, so that individuals may approach me...and the hoops become the icebreaker that facilitates communication/human connection.
Hoops can be a hug shield. Hugs are great, but maybe I don't feel like a deep hug--so I keep my hoop(s) on. When I want to share a bear hug with a loved one, I take my hoop(s) off.
Our bandwidths vary from day to day, and it's nice sometimes to not have to verbally express one's need for space. Sometimes, we want to be social, but don't necessarily want to engage in chit-chat. Or maybe we like to chit-chat while we're in motion.
Maybe hoops give us a bit more slack; in that way they facilitate "be"ing, too.
Copyright MNH 2017
Different perspectives may serve as helpful reflections so that we may see who we may "Be" being currently. Human being.
Change is a part of life; we are ever growing and evolving into different versions of ourselves. How we interact with the perceived outside world may help us more clearly see ourselves, based on our reactions and responses to the incoming data...and the resulting outgoing data.
The language we use, whether in our heads or out our mouths, helps shape our perception of reality; because the language that we use and our opinions/associations with those words create emotional states that affect our nervous systems.
If our nervous systems are on alert to danger, in the attempts to protect us, we may perceive/interpret data as potentially harmful, and stay on guard...which over the long term may have deleterious effects on our physical and mental states.
Conscious word use, like conscious breathing, may be a helpful tool in assisting us in the practice of neutrality.
Because we are consciousness residing within vessels that interpret data via nervous systems that operate a basic survival program that has kept our species alive for as long as we have been here, we will react and respond emotionally, regardless of how neutral we may try to be.
It's how our bodies protect us.
When we interpret incoming information as potentially dangerous, our systems will respond thusly, and go into protection mode--with all the thoughts that may accompany that state, based on the specific parameters of that particular situation and our prior experiences.
Often enough, we are not in actual danger.
When we practice neutrality, it becomes easier to take a step back and perceive the situation and one's responses as objectively as possible, starting with, "Am I actually in danger?"
If so, do what we need to do: state a boundary, leave the space, or both.
If we're not, then take a breath, and think, "What can I do about this situation/opinion?"
And consider your options.
You may decide that community organization is necessary to make a change; or you may decide that it's not that big a deal and let it go.
Be aware that you do indeed have choices, and make them.
Then get back to present life, and the practice of taking in what is directly in front of us, and appreciating it...taking in as much detail as possible, and recognizing the synchronicity when it is present and celebrating it for the gift that it is...
Consciousness is the gift.
Whatever vessel we may have been given, with whichever resources or absence of resources--
the absence of resources may teach us resourcefulness if we approach "absence" as an opportunity to practice resourcefulness
--we may choose to be grateful for what we do have, and explore what we may create of ourselves, and in the world, with what we got...and acknowledge that we may gain so much along the way, especially if our hands are open to receive, as well as to give.
When we choose gratitude, we are inherently blessed--because it's an emotion that works well with our nervous systems...and the results are apparent.
There is mounting research about the benefits of actively practicing mindfulness, gratitude, and conscious breathing.
All three practices work well with our nervous systems, and may help increase our sense of wellness/wellbeing.
When we feel "better" in general, our nervous systems interpret data differently than when our systems interpret potential danger, which may be happening when we feel "bad".
When we feel "good", our nervous systems interpret the incoming data through our "safe" filters, which tends to result in different responses/actions/choices than a nervous system in "protection" mode would direct a body to make.
The different experiences that we've had in life, from conception and up to this present moment, help shape how our nervous systems may respond to incoming data.
That's why some people have a bigger bandwidth for bullshit than others, and their protective systems are not alerted to potential dangers, resulting in what may be perceived as "risky" behavior by individuals who have a more limited bandwidth for bullshit.
We are all somewhere on the spectrum, and changing.
Regardless, shit happens; and it's that shit that helps us grow into the gorgeous unique flowers that we are being and ever becoming.
Cheers to growing together!