My Inner Mystic

reflections and insight into my healing, transformation, and journey of the heart <3

Storms

Fog.  Light mist.  Partly sunny.  Partly cloudy.  Sprinkles.  Grey skies.  Showers.  Sun.  Strong winds.  Dark clouds. Rain.  Lightning flash, boom of thunder.  Heavy downpour.  Sun break through the clouds and rain, a rainbow graces the sky.  Clear blue sky.  Bright sunshine.

Weather events.  Storms.  Human emotions.  Emotional storms.

We each exist in an emotional climate all our own.  Each one of us is an island unto ourselves, an island with its own climate and its own weather patterns.  Our emotional climate is affected by our history, our stories, and by stressors and triggers.  Our triggers are connected to our histories, the blue prints of our lives.  Triggers emerge from soreness, pain, emotional wounds, and emotional traumas.  We experience our emotions as storms – this is our emotional weather.

If we see a heart up close, much like we see a canyon wall or the face of a mountain when we are out in the wilderness, we will see how the heart has been formed by years of emotional weathering.  If we have a discerning and knowing eye, we will recognize the topography of the heart – grief, trauma, loss, devastation, abandonment, shattered sense of self, and so on.  If we remain present, we will begin to discover in this emotional landscape of the heart, the traces and remnants of past storms.  Here I do not speak of emotional storms, the shifting clouds or the wind and rain, but of much bigger storms, catastrophic storms, storms that have the power to completely alter an emotional landscape.

I have experienced a storm of this magnitude in my own life.  For me, this storm was the “ka-boom,” the end of the biggest and most important relationship in my life.  The explosion I would liken to a tornado – sudden and instantly devastating, completely uprooting and leveling everything in its path.  The days and weeks and months after the explosion I would liken to a hurricane – forceful winds, heavy, unrelenting rain, crashing and pounding waves.  Though my shattered heart has healed around the ravaged landscape and new life has come to exist out of the devastation, many dynamic topographical features were created by the catastrophic storm.  I continue to discover the altered and dynamic topography of my “new” heart.

Catastrophic, life altering storms are rare.  Emotional storms, however, are part of our every day, week to week existence.  We experience emotional storms as a result of stressors and triggers.  Stressors are the crappy, negative, or unexpected.  Not enough sleep.  A fight with a loved one.  The jerky boss.  An injury.  An unexpected bill in the mail.  Stressors usually do not grow out of our emotional climate.  Triggers on the other hand, do.

Triggers are the remnants of our history, our story.  Triggers emerge from our emotional landscape, the dynamic topography of our hearts.  We see or hear or smell something that brings to the surface a memory of an event or a feeling from the past, happy or sad, and we are triggered.  Something is said in conversation that relates to a sensitive or a sore place in our story, a wound that is still raw, and we are triggered.  We encounter someone from our past, or we see someone that reminds us of a person from our past, and we are triggered.  We feel a storm about to come – the winds start to blow in our hearts, the clouds come together, and precipitation forms in our eyes.  We cry.

Sometimes there is nothing external that triggers us and the trigger is internal.  We are triggered by the stories playing in our minds, not a fact based story of our sad and tragic history, though this certainly could be a trigger, but the stories, the imagined scenarios and alternate realities that are constantly forming in our minds.  These stories are not truth, but an alternate and possibly sad version of the truth that grow out of fear or worry or anxiety or a deep wound or an unresolved hurt or feeling stuck in emotional limbo . . . these stories often take on a darker mood and are clouded and colored by the emotional climate in our hearts.  The stories of our mind have the power to trigger us and when they do, an emotional weather event ensues – tears, crying, sobbing, anger, what have you.  The intensity of the storm depends on how tightly the story takes hold of you, by how much you allow yourself to be in and feel the colored and skewed reality.

I discovered that our stories can trigger us internally one day while I was brushing my teeth.  Memories started to play in my mind.  My memories started to take twists and turns into an alternate reality; imagined conversations and assumptions played out in my head.  I started to feel sad, tears started to form in my eyes, I was a little weepy.  I had a moment of awareness, a mindful moment, and I paused.  To myself I was like, “Wow.  That was interesting.  I just created my own sadness.  I just created my own little storm.”

I became aware that these “self-created” storms grew right out of the emotional climate in my heart.  I started to pay attention to my tendency to create my own storms.  I saw that when I allowed the stories of my mind to carry me away, I could very easily end up in a sad place and experience a little shower, a brief moment of cloudiness and precipitation.  Other times I saw that I experienced a longer period of rain.  Sometimes I even experienced a heavy rain from a much darker cloud.  I had one of these intense storms just the other night.  I was triggered both externally and internally.  Up and out came the well of sadness from my heart, a sadness that drenched the surrounding fields.

So what do I do with this awareness and insight into my own emotional weather?  I pay attention.  I observe.  I investigate.  I start to look at the patterning of my thoughts and the stories that grow of them.  I look at the weather patterns that ensue.  Which stories produce the most sadness? Why do I, again and again, end up in the sad place and experience a storm?  What pattern of thinking continues to take me to that place?  Is there something about the story that allows me to access a feeling?  What purpose does this feeing serve?  Is this feeling enabling me to move forward or is it keeping me stuck in the sad place?

I am aware that these stories travel along the neural pathways of my mind, the hard wiring of my brain.  These neural pathways have deep, deep roots and it takes a lot of effort – persistent, mindful, and intentional effort – to change one’s root system, to form new neural pathways.

Poet Jane Hirshfield made a statement in the documentary, The Buddha.  She said, “a tree lives on its roots; if you change the root, you change the tree.”

At the time, her words spoke to me of our ability to transform our lives and become a new tree, to live a life very different from the one lived before.  Today her words reveal to me that in order to change the patterning of one’s mind, it is vital that one must change the roots.  So if you find me sitting under a tree in Seattle or anywhere my travels may take me, I might very well be attempting to absorb the essence of that tree to enable a new root system to grow in my mind and heart and to create a shift in my emotional landscape.

Clouds shift.  Clouds change.  Clouds grow together and expand.  Clouds release.          Clouds let go.  Clouds dissipate.  Clouds blow away. 

Storms pass. 

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11 responses to “Storms

  1. theawakenedlife April 13, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    Dear Bobbi, your blogs get better and better. This one is brilliant. I’ve just shared with my fans, as I know every single person can relate to this one, from their own emotional storms. Hugs!

    • myinnermystic April 14, 2012 at 9:32 pm

      Thanks, Jeannie, for the kind, affirming words and for sharing my work with your fans. Just as our yoga practices deepens from our devotion, so too does our writing. Every word, every sentence, every metophor we play with and construct….it takes us places. For me, the act of writing takes me to deep places in my mind and heart where out comes stuff like looking at a heart in the same way we look at a glacially carved gorge and considering what formed and shaped the heart and seeing the relationship between our emotional shifts and weather. This post in particular has much for me to continue to play with and build on.

  2. Charmaine Harcus April 13, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    Brilliant just awesome!

  3. Basia April 14, 2012 at 5:03 am

    Thank you Bobbi! Your blog makes me think of both Socrates who was quoted to say “the unexamined life is not worth living” and Pema Chodron who encourages us to non- judgmentally “lean” into our emotional experiences with compassion so that we can earn about ourselves and hence human nature. The practice of awareness is a noble and worthwhile one in my opinion!
    I think we also need the contrast of the storms to better enjoy the light! 🙂

    • Basia April 14, 2012 at 5:04 am

      I meant learn not earn. Darn auto correct 😉

      • myinnermystic April 14, 2012 at 10:12 pm

        Thanks, Basia. It’s quite an honor and quite humbling to be complimented in the same breath as Socrates and Pema Chedron. Lean, Learn, Earn….all powerful ideas. Maybe there was something to your grammitical slip…earn. Maybe we earn something from having lived through pain. It certainly deepens our awareness and opens up our capacity for insight and compassion.

  4. KT April 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    This is a beautiful and insightful post! I immediately thought of my first trip to Mt. St. Helens – 10 years after the eruption. The landscape had been catastrophically altered – and yet the green fields of wildflowers covering the scarred landscape at that point were breathtaking.

    I think your point about recognizing that we have the ability to create our own storms by the stories we play in our mind is so valuable….because it also means that we can choose not to create those storms. Perhaps we can even find stories that create sunny weather or gentle rain that brings growth.

    Keep the posts coming!

  5. Dave Lister May 6, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    I love your skill for linking the natural world to the emotional and psychological world that absorbs our consciousness. It’s something I don’t do often enough, connecting my emotions to the natural world around me. You always make me re-think my physical pathways in life. Well done, Bobbi!

  6. Shelly June 7, 2012 at 10:39 am

    very eloquent, descriptive and so true! My therapist is having me be curious about my own emotional storm patterns (I like how you use that description). She calls them strong emotional responses. I’m getting better at recognizing the little storms. I used to get caught up in the drama without awareness and recognition…progress has been made! What you describe as the roots…I describe as the grooves of a road. The old grooves can be filled in and new more healthy ones can be made. The negative triggers can be stopped. It takes investigation as you describe. Thank you!

    • myinnermystic June 7, 2012 at 5:59 pm

      Hi Shelly. Thank you for reading and commenting. You are such a thoughtful reader!! Yes, the mind is an interesting thing. Roots, grooves, tracks, what have you. I was recently talking with someone who suffers from severe depression and I was saying that in depression, the mind becomes stuck and cannot move out and forward, that it sees no new possibilities. I was describing to this person how obsessive thought patterning works, that the mind runs thoughts on the same circuits and same tracks over and over and over again because the thoughts have no where else to go…the thoughts are stuck. How do we get out of the deep grooves? Well, as you are learning, we’ve got to make new, healthy grooves, we’ve got to change the course of the river and move the water in a new direction. And how does this happen? We’ve got to grow some new roots, some new neural pathways. We’ve got to change up our routines, try a new soap, order a different coffee drink at the cafe, walk down a street we’ve never been down before, try tying the knots of our shoes in the opposite direction, learn to stand on our heads, practice self-awareness, have the “ah-hah” moment when we feel ourselves falling in the groove, and so on. Thanks again for sharing with me the work you are doing to change your root system!

  7. sayohmmm September 27, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Thank you for giving me this link. It gives me a lot to think about and also makes me see some flashes of all those patterns we all experiment. xoxo Can’t wait to read you again.

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