WHEN THE STRESS IS
JUST TOO BIG – DAY 3
“If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn’t.”
(Emerson M. Pugh)
We are just so complicated.
Imagine that thought patterns are akin to skating on an enormous frozen lake. We get familiar with a certain part of the lake. We know its bumps and dips and the thin bit near the edge. We have found a ‘comfort zone’. But if we stay in that area of the lake, some pretty deep grooves get carved into the ice by our skates.
It’s the same in the brain. Our neurons get set into fixed patterns of thinking. And like those grooves, if our ‘skate’ gets into one groove it will follow it and we will go on the same journey, stumbling on it, as last time, and the time before. Have you heard the expression, “Neurons that fire together, wire together”? We just keep repeating the same thought patterns. And if we try and change them by arguing with ourself to stop or shut up, that ‘corrective’ thought also becomes a groove if we do it often enough.
Putting a hand on your heart and speaking kind words (see Days 1 and 2 of this course) gets us skating on fresh ice. It engages a different part of the brain – literally , brain scans show us this. Suddenly we see a new view, a different perspective of the landscape around us. We can breathe in and relax a little because we are no longer in danger of tripping over the old grooves.
Wishing you a day full of moments of self-kindness and self-care.
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Naomi Shihab Nye: Kindness
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.