The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.
Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made
is star-stuff too?
– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –
dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.
Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
overwhelm, wakefulness & non-doing
We live like that. We think it's 'normal' to experience the levels of stress, busyness, tension, exhaustion, adrenalin and full-on-ness that most of us inhabit most of the time in this accelerating world, further rushed into over-stimulation all the time through the range of e-communications to which many of us, myself included, are addicted, and with which we increasingly feel we need to keep up, almost as if to prove we are alive and connected. We cope because we have to; and, maybe, by dissociating ourselves from our deeper needs. I've lived like that.
Then one day we hit burnout – something in us gives out. It may start with something minor: perhaps it's one of our children kicking off at school; perhaps it's our partner asking that we spend more time together and less time in front of our individual or joint cyber-lives and the relevant screens; perhaps we're jolted by a moment of road rage, our own or another's.
Perhaps we take days instead of hours to recover from a tricky phone call, weeks instead of days to recover from a cold, or a work-related stressful incident. That depletes us, a little, more than we expect, perhaps, but of course we knuckle under and carry on.
The stress isn't dealt with, just left behind. We get used to living on adrenalin.
It may become a bigger issue the more we ignore it until, maybe, it becomes serious – our marriage falling apart, an accident, a serious health concern.
That latter is how it was for me after ten years, more perhaps, of ignoring the serious signs of burnout.
And so, with any luck, we wake up. That's the hidden blessing in something more serious, more tragic, or simply more inconveniencing. We start to cherish the day, the little things in our lives (a slow walk, a snowdrop, the first spring thrush-song), the time we have with loved ones – if we take notice.
We simply can't live at optimal wellbeing without addressing this being dragged by busyness into overwhelm, nor without stepping back from our continual bombardment with information, and with, too, environmental 'toxins', whether they're the level of global bad news that seeps daily into our lives, our own negative beliefs and habits of thought, or the pollutants we eat and drink and breathe.
Then there are the assaults from human-made and natural radiation, greatly increased by radio and mobile phone masts, mobile phones themselves, and computer rays on our nervous systems and the subtle body of our individual etheric field, the electromagnetic shield that protects and modulates our wellbeing on both subtle and dense planes.
No wonder we feel so overwhelmed. And we keep going because we have to and we have to and we have to; we learn how to over-ride our instincts to stop and rest; we become used to inhabiting overdrive. Then we hit our own personal wall, as some of you know happened to me last year, and I haven't quite climbed up off the floor just yet. The circuitry's in for repair, the system has crashed, the motherboard's wrecked. (I use those images quite deliberately.)
Do I ever allow myself to not have an agenda? Do you?
There is no alternative to time out. Here is the wonderful Jon Kabat-Zinn, in an excerpt from Coming To Our Senses:
'To maintain our sanity in such an era, we may have to become intimate with stillness, every one of us. Stillness and quietude may no longer be luxuries, if ever they seemed to be, nor experiences only suited to monks and nuns who have renounced the worldly life, or to adventurers in wilderness, or vacationers in national parks. I am not talking about leisure time. I am talking about non-doing. About spending deep time resting in pure wakefulness, outside of time, with the mind spacious and open. If it is healing for us when faced with life-threatening and chronic diseases, how can it not be healing for us in the face of the dis-ease of feeling totally and chronically overwhelmed and bereft, that our lives are somehow unfolding faster than the human nervous system and psyche are able to manage well.'
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