Compassion

The Science Of Crying.

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tears-bw-picThe Science of Crying. Tears Can Reboot your Genetic Code!

Repression kills our emotions. All of them. Our sadness, despair and abandonment, are all safely locked away, out of site and out of our conscious mind.  Repression also buries our joy, our feeling of connection,

of being loved, valued and accepted for who we are.

From our earliest moments of life, we are compelled to control and inhibit our natural expressions of laughter and crying. We are forced to abandon the most basic and uniquely human form of language.

It is well known and understood.  That in order to begin to ‘feel’ again, to live with an exposed and open heart, we have to risk encountering loss, grief and loneliness. So we find ourselves trading in intimacy and emotional bonding in order to avoid the emptiness and fear  born of our deep, hidden painful memories. Our un-expressed and unheard cries for safety and security, for love and acceptance.

In his groundbreaking book ‘The New Primal Scream’Arthur Janov describes how  our brains handle extreme trauma and emotional overwhelm. He explains that the brain has a particular way of coping with more stress than the body can handle. He states…

“Ordinarily, neural information about hurt is relayed to the Thalamus. When the pain is not overwhelming, information is then sent to the hypothalamus which initiates a variety of responses, including crying. That makes up the healing process.  When repression exists, information and tears are rerouted away from the hypothalamus. If this did not occur, the excesses of hypothalamic activity in blood pressure, pulse,and temperature for example, would be lethal. It is therefore important that the hypothalamus not accept all of the input. The excess neural energy of the pain is rerouted and finds its neurotic destination in the Limbic system and it is because of this bifurcation that full healing cannot take place”.

Basically, he is saying that as infants and children, when we are forced to deal with more fear, trauma or pain than we can handle, the brain puts some of the emotion into deep storage where it is locked away, and so we can no longer cry and release this element of the wound. It does this to protect the organism, to keep us alive!  Over time, the Limbic system fills with more and more ‘censored’ pain and the effects on our bodies and lives from this emotional pool of unfinished business manifests as many dysfunctions. These can include psychological problems including self sabotage, addictions or other types of anesthetics, which allow us to function with some sense of normality. It also affects our physiology. Our bodies become sensitive and we may develop allergies, intolerance to certain foods and damage to the immune system. It can even repress diseases that can lie dormant in our systems, unable to be exposed and treated and so continue to poison us throughout our lives.

But there is an even more dramatic effect that is less well known about what happens to our bodies during a lifetime crippled by early repression.  Stinted  by the inhibition of our freedom to express both our pain and our joy. Our evolutionary pattern or genetic code that runs our bodies during our life, can actually stall in the face of deep repression! This means that we are running on a faulty code, a fundamentally dysfunctional system breakdown at the level of our DNA. Our ‘operating system’ begins to crash.

So when we begin the process of reactivating the lost pain and traumatic memories, when we begin consciously healing ourselves by allowing the limbic system to re-open and slowly release the old wounds. We are actually allowing our bodies genetic code to reboot. We are in effect, switching ourselves off and on again! This is why it so crucial to find a way to open this portal and begin the process of revisiting and releasing this deeply buried mass of pain and sorrow.

Janov goes on to write…

“Weeping is healing. Feeling is healing.  Repression is ‘antihealing’. Every process of our brain and body has an evolutionary rationale.  To block weeping is to run against the sweep of evolution. That is why those who weep deeply seem to ‘restart’ the evolutionary process – beards begin to grow at age forty, wisdom teeth develop at forty five, breasts begin to grow at age thirty five.    

The genetic code can now proceed to its destination;  that destination is growth, healing and health.  Not a bad job for minuscule droplets of moisture. Imagine!  Tears have the power to transform our physiology, change our personality and re-fire the evolutionary engine. What has seemed like weakness to so many of us turns out to be one of the most powerful forces on earth”!  

The Secret Superpower of Meditation.

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yogi-hulk-diffuse-angerMeditation….What is it really all about?

Most would claim that Meditation, (commonly imagined as sitting silently, becoming aware of the present moment or of ones breath), brings about a greater sense of calmness, clarity, serenity, and contentment. A break from the incessant chatter of the unstoppable inner voice clanging around in our heads. This of course is absolutely true. And then, there are all the benefits to our health, like reduced blood pressure, stress release, increased oxygen levels… it’s a long list, and all of it good stuff.

But what happens when we leave the cushion?  When we roll up our mat? When the commentary in our heads starts running again?  We are back in our thoughts, anxieties, and judgments. How quickly we lose our serenity and sense of ‘one-ness’. How easily we return to business as usual. Here is where we could be missing the greatest benefit that Meditation actually has to offer.

Let’s use the analogy of going to the gym or doing yoga, martial arts, or whatever physical pursuit scratches our itch. We do our workout, our practice or exercise. During and just afterwards, we often feel a nice warm rush in our bodies. Our bloodstream is flooded with yummy dopamine and we’re glowing and maybe even a bit high. Great feeling, but we know that it is not this immediate ‘hit’ that motivates us to keep going.  What really gets us to commit to our practice is an understanding that over time, we are building and training our muscles to feel stronger, our heart and lungs to be more effective, increasing our physical ability and developing our body to work at its optimum.  Making it as capable as possible of handling what modern life throws at it. We know we will be more able to deal with unexpected physical stress and strains, we’ll have less aches and pains.

We can dance all night, and do…other things.. all night. We feel less fatigue, more awake, sharper and fitter.  In short, we become healthier and have a better quality of life.

Applying this understanding to Meditation is what will give us the secret superpower that is almost always overlooked.

When we meditate on a daily or very regular basis, we are in fact strengthening our ‘presence muscle’. That is to say, we are building our capacity to become present and aware when we really need it most – not on the mat or cushion, but when our sore points, our vulnerable places, are triggered in our ‘normal’ day to day activities.

When all is smooth and wonderful in life, we are mostly content, happy and connected. But when the shit hits the fan, when we are triggered, by our parents, our partners, our children, friends or work colleagues, it is in these moments of ‘reaction’ that we ‘lose consciousness’.

This moment is where we snap.  It’s where we defend, rationalise, attack, manipulate and either act ‘out’ in aggression, or act ‘in’ through passive anger, punishment or just total shut down. This is when we actually feel the sting of abandonment, resentment, envy and fear in real-time and space. This is where we damage ourselves and others.

Meditation’s greatest gift, is that it can train us to expand that moment. It allows us to stretch that nano-second of time, just as we are triggered, offering to us an extra split second of hard-won presence and awareness.  A capacity built over time, as we cultivate our ability to witness our thoughts and emotions from a higher perspective.

This little gap, this fleeting blink of an eye, is where the practice of Meditation manifests its most profound benefit.

In that extra interval lies the greatest power available to us.  The capacity to choose how we will deal with the rush of pain, fear or anger welling up inside. It gives us the capacity to slow down time, take a breath and allow the emotional charge to subside, so that we can make a conscious decision about how we want to respond. This shift enables us to move from automatic conflict, towards resolution. From judgement to compassion. From anger to forgiveness. From fear to love.

It should though be understood, that this fundamental ability, this knack, is by no means easy, nor is it always welcomed by those around us. When we develop this capacity, we become uniquely empowered, as we step out of ‘character’ and no longer follow the scripts that have been playing out in the theatre of our lives. Others who are used to being able to trigger and control us, are suddenly left having to deal with their own thoughts and feelings, because we are no longer playing along and feeding the fire. We have learned to take each moment, each criticism, each comment that once had us lashing out in desperation and rage, and see it for what it really is…someone else’s inner world, their reality, not ours. We no longer take it personally.

This does not mean that we are no longer capable of hearing a valid criticism or are unable to receive feedback about where we can change, learn and grow.

We can in fact, remain more receptive, more discerning and better placed to make a healthy judgement as to whether we take on, or dismiss what comes our way from others.

With less fire and smoke comes clearer vision and understanding.

In the coolness of presence, we respond from our deepest, true nature.

This is real inner power.

This is ‘spiritual fitness’.

This is the secret superpower of Meditation!