The sun is shining again in Boston. Dogs have been extra friendly today, the babies are smiling, and the food at the farmer’s market looked extra amazing as did these sunflowers. The weather is feeling more like Fall every day although we are promised that summer is returning. With all this amazing bright and sunny energy around me one would think I would be floating on air, right? Um well, sort of if it weren’t for the fact that it seems like most people in Boston these days have taken to walking diagonally in a zig zag fashion. So much so that I am beginning to think this is an early Fall trend and that I too should begin to start walking diagonally. We could start the first filming of a Charley Chaplin-esque movie. It is possible that my mild obession/escalating irritation with the diagonal zig zag walking may possibly be attracting more of it towards me but it is also equally possible that it is a totally unrelated phenomenon. It does seem that my mind likes to attach itself to the walking patterns of others rather than to the stress of the actually quite amazing things that are going on in my life at the moment. Yes, life actually is quite bright and sun shiny and at the very same time I have become a worse insomniac than usual and my mind is constantly tallying all the things that need to get done. Yes, I meditate and yes this still occurs. Why? Well let’s take a look at why we become cray cray even when things are going better than they ever have.
Hans Seyle, MD has been known as the “Father of Stress.” http://www.gentle-stress-relief.com/hans-selye.html That’s quite a title huh? His work around stress research has been seminal in the field of stress management. He speaks about the difference between eustress and distress. Eustress is the type of stress that is produced by what would be seemingly happy and exciting experiences. This can happen when people get married, take new jobs, buy houses or make big positive changes in career as I have recently Distress is the stress that is created around seemingly negative experiences such as getting laid off, fired, break-up of relationships, conflict in interpersonal relationships in general and financial debt. The interesting thing that Seyle found in his research is that the autonomic nervous system gets triggered in the same way around both kinds of stress. Interesting….makes sense right? No wonder those diagonally walking folks are driving me a bit bananas. The way in which the nervous system gets triggered is by turning on the fight/flight stress response which releases two stress hormones; adrenaline and cortisol. In the past we have discussed what occurs when this response gets turned on chronically. It basically causes the body to constantly be jacked expecting the sky to fall. Even when the sun is shining and life seems like a musical, the body reacts like the world is black and bleak. Seriously? Bleh.
So how does one find their way out of the Chicken Little Syndrome? Well we don’t have much control over whether we get triggered but we can work towards better managing the triggers. Meditation is key. Meditation often helps me become more of an observer of my feelings rather than constantly being in a reaction phase. Lately I have taken to observing my pattern of frustration with the walking patterns of pedestrians and laughing every time zigs or zags occur. When in doubt, laughter is always my best medicine. I am also working on focusing on how freaking awesome life seems to be and that over time all the things that are stressful end up becoming a part of the past as new experiences arise in the present. It does seem like no coincidence that the “Keep Calm” t-shirts are being created about every freaking thing one could possibly experience. There is a rising interest in keeping cool but we are not socialized how to do this in a healthy way. We are often encouraged to numb our feelings through substances, food, shopping, etc but not shown how to embrace our emotions as energy that is rising and falling every moment of every day. What helps you stay sane throughout life’s daily positive and not so positive experiences? For me what works is doing yoga in my community where I see familiar kind faces, getting out into the world even if it means diagonal walking and going to my favorite cafes and taking part in some amazing teas that make me feel good. I won’t lie, shopping is generally my vice of choice but for today, in this moment, some window peeping was the most I chose to do. Each day is a different movie, you get to decide does it have some of the glam of Hollywood drama or is it more the feel good kinda movie with the happy ending? For today, I choose the bright and sun shiny kind:)
Cheers to sun shiny days full of peace, love and all that jazz!