Ruminating On Rumi

As you start to walk out on the way, the way appears.

~ M. Rumi

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Flight, Fight or ? Your Choice.

This morning, the flight or fight response took a stand. Here's what happened. Upon deciding to gather up receipts for filing last year's taxes, i discovered that in my ultra tidiness, i had recycled a whole envelope of receipts. A surge of hormones including adrenaline and cortisol flooded my body.  My instant response, the feeling of panic, was accompanied by the action of turning drawers and cupboards upside down in a futile effort to "find" the missing receipts. (Panic, translated in the ego's black and white understanding of the world,  means a "life or death" situation.)

Then the egoic mind caustically reminded me of the keys i had lost on Monday and as it was starting to list all the "bad me" components, i momentarily came to my senses. "Okay" i thought, "i'll just stop this search and make breakfast." It takes about a half hour to "calm" down from the surge of the stress hormones and i thought something as simple as food prep would help. As i prepared breakfast, i burned the toast and then overcooked the yolk of my poached egg. The pesky ego interjected, "See you can't do anything right." 

Now this is where the rubber meets the road, where the practice of consciousness and mindfulness meet the toxic chemical soup of stress. i took a couple deep breaths, brought my awareness to the situation and why the body was feeling as it was and how the mind jumped into this stress loop. And how, until i settled down, my experiences would continue to reinforce that residual lingering core belief of "not good enough". i needed to remind myself i was perceiving these normally small mistakes as signs of major character defects  because i was experiencing the events through the stress chemicals. 

As an aside, reliving past stressful events can prompt the body and mind to behave as if the stress is happening in the present moment. As i write this i am bringing awareness to the idea that i am just telling a story. i am watching my breath, monitoring my body for "uptightness" and reminding myself that i am using this telling to imprint a new level of awareness.

Having a hot bath, for me, is a great, natural calming remedy. So, running the bath, i continued to take deep breaths. With these breaths, i started to think a little clearer. This clarity allowed me to rationalize that likely i could get duplicates for most of the major receipts. So, i sent out a couple of e-mails explaining the situation and requesting replacements.

At this point, i haven't even gotten into the hot bath. Bringing awareness to what was happening to my body and mind and why and then taking deep breaths were helping to wind down. When i got in the hot bath, i slid down in the tub. As Donna Eden on her Energy Medicine CD suggested I placed "the thumbs on the temples, pads of fingers on the forehead above the eyes and softly and gently held this position." This "energycise" helps bring the blood back to the forebrain.  In flight or fight, blood is sent to the extremities to prepare for action. 

As i write this, i'm thinking this relatively small thing in the scheme of things is just small potatoes in a big potato patch.  It very clearly demonstrated how "some thing"  external can (in retrospect) initiate a chain of reactivity with reinforcing stress built in to each link. This incident gave me the opportunity to experience the knowledge i have been collecting and thinking about in an experential way.

Learning to turn sour into sweet is about consciousness raising. i can now acknowledge myself for becoming "aware" and taking the conscious steps to prevent a full catastrophe. i'm curious to see what happens the next time fight or flight asks for a dance. i deeply bow to all my teachers for being sparks in this evolution.


Two highly recommended reads are the just released book by Dr. Joe Dispenza, "Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself". 


And the wonderful timeless "Full Catastrophe Living" by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph. D.