Monday Morning Wake-Up Call (224 consecutive days. Amygdala to the rescue)

When there are discrepancies between expectations and reality, all kinds of distress signals go off in the brain. It doesn’t matter if it’s a holiday ritual or more mundane habit like how you tie your shoes; if you can’t do it the way you normally do it, you’re biologically engineered to get upset. This in part explains people’s grief and longing for the routines that were the background melodies of their lives before the pandemic — and also their sense of unease as we enter a holiday season unlike any other. The good news is that much of what we miss about our routines and customs, and what makes them beneficial to us as a species, has more to do with their comforting regularity than the actual behaviors. The key to coping during this, or any, time of upheaval is to quickly establish new routines so that, even if the world is uncertain, there are still things you can count on…

Routines, rituals and habits arise from the primitive part of our brains telling us, “Keep doing what you’ve been doing, because you did it before, and you didn’t die.”

…So the unvarying way you shower and shave in the morning, how you always queue up for a latte before work and put your latte to the left of your laptop before checking your email are all essentially subconscious efforts to make your world more predictable, orderly and safe…

…Our brains are literally overburdened with all the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Not only is there the seeming capriciousness of the virus, but we no longer have the routines that served as the familiar scaffolding of our lives. Things we had already figured out and relegated to the brain’s autopilot function — going to work, visiting the gym, taking the kids to school, meeting friends for dinner, grocery shopping — now require serious thought and risk analysis…

But it’s mundane routines that give us structure to help us pare things down and better navigate the world, which helps us make sense of things and feel that life has meaning…

The truth is that you cannot control what happens in life. But you can create a routine that gives your life a predictable rhythm and secure mooring….

— Kate Murphy, from “Pandemic-Proof Your Habits” (NY Times, November 28, 2020)


Note:

  • My Morning Walk to Cove Island Park. 224 days consecutive days.
  • Photo: Daybreak. December 13, 2020. 6:53 am. 47° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford CT

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

john-o-donohue

We do have a deadening desire to reduce the mystery, the uncertainty of our lives…. We bind our lives in solid chains of forced connections that block and fixate us. …. Our sense of uncertainty and our need for security nail our world down. …. Each time we go out, the world is open and free; it offers itself so graciously to our hearts, to create something new and wholesome from it each day. It is a travesty of possibility and freedom to think we have no choice, that things are the way they are and that the one street, the one right way is all that is allotted to us. Certainty is a subtle destroyer…” “We confine our mystery within the prison of routine and repetition. One of the most deadening forces of all is repetition. Your response to the invitation and edge of your life becomes reduced to a series of automatic reflexes. For example, you are so used to getting up in the morning and observing the morning rituals of washing and dressing. You are still somewhat sleepy, your mind is thinking of things you have to do in the day that lies ahead. You go through these first gestures of the morning often without even noticing that you are doing them. This is a disturbing little image, because it suggests that you live so much of your one life with the same automatic blindness of adaptation…” “Habit is a strong invisible prison. Habits are styles of feeling, perception, or action that have now become second nature to us. A habit is a sure cell of predictability; it can close you off from the unknown, the new, and the unexpected. You were sent to the earth to become a receiver of the unknown. From ancient times, these gifts were prepared for you; now they come towards you across eternal distances. Their destination is the altar of your heart.”

~ John O’Donohue, from Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong

 


Notes: O’Donohue Quote – Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels. O’Donohue Photo – Barry Kibrick

But

ponder-think-light-sun

Me: I wanna do something
Anxiety:
Anxiety:
Anxiety:
Anxiety:
Anxiety:
Anxiety: No you don’t
Me: But
ANXIETY: No


Credits:


Something inside seems to be waiting, holding its breath

Alice-Walker

“Some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don’t even recognize that growth is happening. We may feel hostile or angry or weepy and hysterical, or we may feel depressed. It would never occur to us, unless we stumbled on a book or a person who explained to us, that we were in fact in the process of change, of actually becoming larger, spiritually, than we were before. Whenever we grow, we tend to feel it, as a young seed must feel the weight and inertia of the earth as it seeks to break out of its shell on its way to becoming a plant. Often the feeling is anything but pleasant. But what is most unpleasant is the not knowing what is happening. Those long periods when something inside ourselves seems to be waiting, holding its breath, unsure about what the next step should be, eventually become the periods we wait for, for it is in those periods that we realize that we are being prepared for the next phase of our life and that, in all probability, a new level of the personality is about to be revealed.”
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