bloodteethandflame

A life in threes

Category: going forward

4 Science Based Strategies for When You’re Feeling Down.

(or something like that)

I was reading an article the other day because I was feeling like sh*t and this article caught my eye as I was scrolling through my media feed.

This article was broken into four parts, each headlined by an action, and each part discussed scientific reasons why that action would help bring one out of a temporary ‘funk.’

(I say ‘temporary funk’ as this post is not  meant to address the situation of those who suffer from clinical depression or other mental illnesses…just as I believe that the article was not meant as a replacement for seeking medical help, psychological therapy, or taking prescribed medications either.)

These are the 4 strategies as I listed them in my notebook, and the descriptions are my take on the information as it was presented in the article:

1.) Ask yourself: What am I grateful for?

  • Even if you cannot ‘find’ anything, remembering to do so distracts/busies the mind enough to help you feel better.
  • According to the article, worrying – as well as feeling guilt or shame – ‘rewards’ the brain centers, because the brain treats the process of worrying  or feeling shame or guilt about a problem as a valid attempt to find a solution.  The brain treats the worry as an activity – the brain thinks it’s doing something to solve the problem and to the brain, that’s all that matters is that it is doing something.
  • So, the article stresses the importance of keeping one’s mind busy with what is good, as it is all the same to your brain, whether you are thinking of a solution or not.

2.) Label negative feelings.

  • Give that awful feeling or idea a name; don’t suppress your feelings and emotions about it.  It’s part of your brain’s process.
  • When you suppress emotions, your brain still ‘knows’ it and your body still reacts to the emotion, whether you’ve allowed yourself to feel the emotion or not.

3.) Make a decision

  • Making a decision reduces worry and anxiety, as your brain treats the activity of making a decision as ‘finding a solution’ – even if the decision/’solution’ is to allow yourself to feel a feeling for 20 minutes – and move on.  Even ‘I will decide what to do on Monday’ will work – but you must decide and move on.
  • Your brain treats the act of making a decision as a ‘successful’ attempt at a solution – and it calms your limbic system as a result.
  • Even if it is not a ‘100% effective solution’ or even a procrastination (as in ‘I will think about what to do on Monday morning’ or even ‘I don’t know what to do but I will decide later’) your brain registers that as you have decided to do something.
  • Why? Because actively choosing causes changes in attention circuits of the brain and studies have shown this in action: participants were asked to describe how they felt about an action, and then asked to choose how they are going to react to the action.  The simple act of choosing (ie. verbalizing aloud) their reaction caused an increase of dopamine activity in the brain, and the more specific the decision, the more dopamine was released (such as the general “I am hurt, so I will cry” versus the more specific “I am hurt, so I will cry for 20 minutes.”)

4.) Touch people

  • We need to feel love and acceptance from people.  If we do not and we are rejected, it is painful. The brain registers this lack and this rejection as if we have experienced physical pain. According to science, rejection doesn’t feel like a broken heart; your brain treats the rejection like a broken leg.
  • Touching someone that you love, even a pet – for 20 seconds or more – actually reduces pain: “A hug – especially a long one – releases the neurotransmitter and hormone oxytocin, which reduces the reactivity of the amygdala (the base of the pain center) in the brain.

~~~

I would link to the article – if I could find it – so I will keep looking for it, and update with it if I can…

Found it: http://theweek.com/articles/601157/neuroscience-reveals-4-rituals-that-make-happy

 

 

 

Month for Loki, Twenty-Eighth: My paths are open before me…

“You took my hand and drew me to your side, made me sit on the high seat before all men, till I became timid, unable to stir and walk my own way; doubting and debating at every step lest I should tread upon any thorn of their disfavour.

I am freed at last!

The blow has come, the drum of insult sounded, my seat is laid low in the dust.

My paths are open before me.

My wings are full of the desire of the sky.

I go to join the shooting stars of midnight, to plunge into the profound shadow.

I am like the storm-driven cloud of summer that, having cast off its crown of gold, hangs as a sword the thunderbolt upon a chain of lightning.

In desperate joy I run upon the dusty path of the despised; I draw near to your final welcome.

The child finds its mother when it leaves her womb.

When I am parted from you, thrown out from your household, I am free to see your face.

 – from  FRUIT GATHERING, by Rabindranath Tagore (May 1861 ~ August 1941)
[Translated from Bengali to English by Rabindranath Tagore]
Published in 1916

~~~

And suddenly…I understood.

Good advice, actually:

powerreaction

Poem

This lovely poem was shared by a friend on my social media feed this morning, and though I was skeptical that its words ‘could change one’s life,’ I will grant that its overall message is rather profound one…and personally relevant.

(Thanks Sarah!)

~~~

THE GUEST HOUSE

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Jelaluddin Rumi,
Translation from The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks

 

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Together.

Neil Gaiman has done it again – with some lovely words to ponder on this first day of 2017:

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I would like to take a moment to wish all of my readers a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017.

May we all find the bravery we need to step forward into the darkness – together.

May we all find the joy that we are seeking in this world – together.

Worldbreaker.

Everything’s fine.

Then, everything’s *not* fine.

2016 has been a rollercoaster..and I don’t think that it has just been a rollercoaster for me.

Look at the rest of the world, I suppose.

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It would seem that everyone is struggling with something…not just me.

Not just my struggles.

~~~

I haven’t been posting, mainly because I’ve been keeping to the relative safety of writing in my notebooks, because 2016 has brought so many changes to my life that when I look back upon where I was, emotionally and spiritually, on this day in 2015, I am agog at how much has changed in my relationships, my attitudes, my writing….hell, even my devotional/spiritual practices.

As a matter of fact, so much has changed in my devotional practice that my head is sort of… spinning.

It’s been an interesting year, to say the least.

~~~

At the end of 2015, I was coming out of a major depressive episode.

Certain aspects of my life were either stagnant or evolving in a direction that I didn’t want to travel.  I felt stuck and sad and angry.

I had decided to end relationships with several persons whom I’d come to over-value so much that I’d thought of these folks as the basis of my spiritual community….so deciding to cut ties with those friends felt like cutting ties with my sense of community.

As well, I felt stagnant in my spiritual relationships.  I needed something to change but I didn’t know what or how

 

Though I had hope for 2016, I’d never in a million years expected the changes that were in store for me regarding my marriage, my circle of friends (or whom I would have considered my circle of friends), how I’d come to spend my free time,the people, places and things I would come to value, the skills that I would develop or the way that my devotional/spiritual practices would be completely overhauled.

Yes, my spiritual practices would suffer a complete overhaul in 2016.

And that is why I have chosen WorldBreaker as the title of this post.

Because, oddly enough, in retrospect, one of the only constants I see in the pattern of 2015 to 2016 was …Loki

And yes, that is true…I am working with Loki now.*

Though in late December 2015, I’d even gone as far as to pack up all of my altars -including His – because I was feeling disconnected from all of Them.

I was throwing what was essentially a tantrum of enormous spiritual proportions.

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I was trying so hard to feel and to do, and yet all I could feel was an immense sense of frustration and disconnection.

I was feeling what I thought that I was supposed to feel and I was doing what I thought was the ‘work’ that I needed to do…

And yet I was ….not.

Though I will admit what I did feel was this:

I wish you all had one neck and I had my hands around it.

(Those, by the way, are the second to last words of convicted murderer Carl Panzram, just before he was executed at Leavenworth Penitentiary in 1930)

(Do you see the WorldBreaker yet?)

Because that, my friends, is how I felt (inwardly, of course) about the whole business of not just the day to day functionings of my mundane life, but my spiritual life as well.

In late 2015, I definitely felt that if Life were a person, I wanted to choke that motherfucker out…and hard.

But I am not a violent person, so I could not even begin to guess where those feelings of rage were coming from at the time.

But I do…now.

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(Yep.  That was me…being upset.  And oh…not working on my shit.  But boy, did I think I was!)

So, what changed?

Well, I can’t exactly write a recipe book now, can I?

It was my journey from 2015 on and through all of 2016 that  required a change in attitude towards a lot of situations that I didn’t particularly like that involved people that I didn’t particularly like.

I was entrenched in a battle of control and blame in my mundane life, and I was believing that these situations were somehow within my realm of control… but they were not.

I was the face of acceptance on the surface, but underneath all of that, I was angry and withholding.

I kept telling myself that I had let go of the past, but I had not….not entirely.

I was full of assumptions and waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I was waiting and hiding and grumbling to myself.

I had expectations based upon assumptions, and I was feeding an ugly vicious cycle of blame and insecurity.

In short, I was living in the past, but thinking that I was moving on.

I thought I was open.  I thought I was being accepting and fair and loving and generous.  I thought that I was letting go.  I told myself constantly that I was holding myself accountable.  I was convinced that it was I who was fair and open and honest…and others were not.

It wasn’t me who refused to be, it was them.

And in my spiritual life – well, there’s a mirror.  I was insecure, tentative…also angry.

I had so much stuff on my altars.  I was meditating every day.  I felt like I was constantly giving Them time, giving Them energy, giving Them thought.

So why was I having the dark night of the soul?  Why was I feeling a fallow time?  Why did I feel so disconnected?

Because…you refuse.

You refuse to be open.

You refuse to be generous.

You do not allow….

You do not permit….

It will begin…when you begin.

BEGIN.

And so, in 2016, I began without even being aware of what I was beginning.

(Enter the WorldBreaker, stage left.)

Looking back upon the year, I realize that there were many occasions wherein I was thrust into many uncomfortable situations.

I look back upon these uncomfortable moments and I recall feeling forced to explain myself in many ways.

A lot of these moments featured me being forced to examine myself – my social anxieties, my prejudices, my decisions, my beliefs.**

But 2016 also rewarded me – the year even brought me a lot of growth, and even some new friends – or rather, I re-connected with myself in re-connecting with several ‘old’ friends – which led to my social circle increasing exponentially and unexpectedly at the same time.

As well, 2016 brought me joy in unexpected places (Arizona) and heartache in others (Washington DC)…but in the end, the slow change toward actually letting go of my need to control/create a specific outcome led to unexpected and entirely unforeseen outcomes.

While I do not have a lot of the same people in my life that I had had in 2015, I do have people in 2016.

As well, in 2016, I have done things that I never thought that I would do, I experienced things that I’d never dreamed of experiencing before, and craziest of all, I am actually working with yet another God that I had once insisted that I would *never* work with.

(Hel, as recently as two months ago, I would have refused to even look at Him, let alone work with Him in any way.)

Funny, how things can change so completely and so abruptly, eh?

onedecision

But that, my friends, is the story of a decision for another day entirely. 😉

 

So that was the trajectory of my 2016.

A year of rapid, dramatic (sometimes even melodramatic) emotional and spiritual change for me.

Courtesy of a relentless Breaker of Worlds.

Hail Loki, indeed ❤

~~~~

*In retrospect, I realize that up to a point, 2012-2015 was essentially ‘making a good show of working with Loki’ compared to  actually ‘working with’ Loki  :-/

**I felt ashamed, exposed…and about three months ago, it peaked in that a few folks even vilified me for speaking my mind, for writing what I wrote in this blog.  And yes, it stopped me.  A lot.

someday

 

 

 

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