What I'm Writing About
© Copyright 2011-2016
All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Bobbi Jean Ewing.
reflections and insight into my healing, transformation, and journey of the heart <3
We live in a world of constant connectivity. Phones, email, texts, social media. Connected. All. The. Time. We live a world that “demands” that we juggle bouncing balls. And whilst we juggle these balls, we field phone calls, emails, texts, and a slew of updates, notifications, or messages.
Can you hear the “bing, bing” or “buzz, buzz” of an incoming text message? Do you see the flash on the bottom of your screen alerting you of a new email? Do you see that new notification on your social media site? Do you see the little pop up telling you so and so has just “logged on”? Too much stimulation. Sensory overload. All this connectivity leaves us feeling wired. Some might say constant connectivity is the “plague” of modern times.
Do you ever lie down and close your eyes after engaging in stimulating conversation or spending time on your computer? And when you do, have you noticed all the buzzing in your brain? I have. When I close my eyes after a long stretch of working on the computer, I’m pretty certain I can feel my neurotransmitters firing across the synapses. It feels like fire flies are buzzing around in my brain. I can practically see the light show.
Have you ever lied down with your eyes closed and scanned your body after a busy day at work, a day of juggling? I have. I can feel the “zzzz” of energy pulsating in my arm and leg in my right side. That “zzz zing” as I call it, is from all the left brain activity I do. Left brain is stimulated, sends signals through my nervous system, and I feel the “zzzz” in the right side of my body. Sound woo woo? Just think of folks who’ve had brain injuries or strokes. Motor function on the opposite side of the body of injured brain half is affected and/or impaired. The link between the two . . . our nervous systems.
As a human species, we have lived on planet earth for thousands, if not, millions of years. The peoples we descended from used to live in caves and hunted and ran after their food. And they used to run from or take cover from wild animals that threatened their lives, often the same animals they hunted. When the bodies of our more primitive ancestors perceived danger, their nervous systems were aroused. Their bodies responded appropriately to the signals from their nervous systems: fight or flight. This wild, primitive world is the lineage of our nervous systems.
Our bodies are wired to do the same thing today: survive. But today, instead of running from wild animals, we are bombarded with information and media. We are constantly stimulated. We experience sensory overload. All the stimulation in our modern lives is very confusing for the body and the brain. Our brains do not know how to filter all this information. Our bodies, our nervous systems, do not know how to cope with being constantly bombarded.
Our bodies perceive and filter the bombardment in much the same way as our ancestors bodies perceived and responded to danger when they were being chased by tigers or when a stampede of buffalo stormed through the “village” or cluster of nomadic tents. Our nervous systems are aroused. The nerves fire up and send signals for the body to prepare for attack or to run for survival (this is fight or flight).
Unlike our ancestors, we do not burn up or run off all the adrenal energy released into our bodies. In our modern world, we are not chased by wild animals. Instead, we sit idle at our computers or with phone in hand firing off text messages, sending emails, responding to notifications, and so on. With no release for this surge of energy, we are over stimulated and are left “zzz zing.” We feel wired. We are trapped in a state of hyper arousal. We have trouble coming down from the surge.
I am particularly sensitive to over stimulation. The “zzz zing” is like electricity running through my body and brain. When I am super wired, I have trouble sleeping. I have trouble falling asleep and then I have trouble staying asleep. I remember back in my college and graduate school days when I stayed up late writing a big paper. My brain would stay in writing mode the entire night – I’d be “writing” in my dreams. Needless to say, on those nights I didn’t sleep peacefully. I continue to experience this in my adult life. If I work on my budget or travel plans or writing too close to bedtime, my brain will work all night long and I’ll be in and out of restless sleep. In my waking life, I feel a surge through my body. I don’t need to consume energy drinks. My body releases an overabundance of adrenal energy that at times makes me feel a little jittery, like I’ve had too much caffeine.
How do I help my body cope with over stimulation? I choose not to be so connected. I do not own a smart phone. My phone is dumb. No internet connection, no apps. Because of the painful circumstances of the “ka-boom,” I chose to disconnect from certain social media. Since then, I have chosen not to re-enter the land of connectivity. Instead, I invest in cultivating meaningful, face to face connections. I take breaks from my computer for entire evenings and entire weekends. And when I travel, I am pretty much, if not entirely, unplugged. If a wild bull ran through Seattle or the Space Needle fell over, I wouldn’t have a clue and all for the best. I would much rather immerse myself in the present moment, right where I am.
What do I do for a remedy to this “plague” of modern times? I ground myself. Just like electricity needs to be grounded, so do I. How do I do this? I bring awareness into my body (and out of my head). I practice yoga. I do somatic movement. I do my physical therapy exercises. From time to time I do a formal sit and meditate. Sometimes when I’m really wired during my work day, I fold myself into a forward bend or stand on my head. All of these practices calm the nervous system.
I have discovered an especially powerful remedy that is both meditative and mindful. I sit and watch the sunset until all the color has left the sky. After that, I marvel at the twilight. I sit in my back yard and listen to and watch birds. I lie in the grass and watch bugs. I lie on my back under a canopy of oak trees in the little “park” near my house, arms wide open, and let mother earth hold me. I lie there until all the light leaves the sky. I watch the bats start to come out and then the stars. I remain still. My body and mind become still. The “zzz zing” dissipates and is released from my body. I have grounded myself.
I am by no means an expert on the nervous system. What I have shared is a synthesis of what I have learned from my teachers (yoga, somatic movement, mindfulness, meditation), from the resources I have read, and from my own mind-body journey of discovery.
A great resource from a real expert is Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert M. Sapolsky.