Triggering Reactivity

We get triggered by people, situations, and events and find ourselves reacting in ways that, in the aftermath, we are ashamed of, know consciously to be ineffective or destructive, or that we thought we had outgrown. It can be disheartening, depressing, and cause us to feel hopeless, unmotivated, and angry at ourselves as well as others. At a very basic level, this is the basis of addiction. We want to ease the pain or stress that we are feeling! We revert, often without conscious thought, to old coping mechanisms. We just want to stop feeling the uncomfortable vibes or jitters that we experience when we come up against behavior, thoughts, or actions that trigger unconscious or subconscious reactions.

For example, why do some people overeat? Even when they know consciously that they are not hungry? Beyond the taste buds that give the message that whatever is being eaten is delicious, the unnecessary food is providing a balm to an uncomfortable feeling. Perhaps eating has become a way to stop feeling alone, worthless, and unloved for many of us. And it works, at least temporarily! For those few minutes while we are eating the comfort food, we feel soothed and less uncomfortable. The loneliness, the self-disparagement, and the feelings of being unlovable diminish in volume. 

This sets up a patterned way of dealing with uncomfortable emotions. Does the food have anything really to do with the feelings? No, it’s just a method of coping that seems to alleviate the pain of the emotions just long enough time for us to begin to feel some relief from the uncomfortable emotions. And that is one of the hallmarks of these coping mechanisms, they are temporary, and thus must be constantly repeated to regain a sense of emotional equilibrium.

Eating is not the only way to deal with uncomfortable feelings. Humans are inventive in their coping mechanisms! Alcohol, drugs, sex, abusive relationships, thrill seeking, self-abusive behaviors, angry outbursts, and inflicting physical, emotional, and verbal pain on others are other ways that people have found that relieve the stress of their emotional pain. But not all addictive behaviors are seen from the outside as negative!

Another example can be seen in people who seem to thrive and truly come alive only in times of crisis. They are there to help family, friends, and the greater community survive a threat or difficult time. These people become the saviors that others constantly call on for help. This rescue pattern can become so embedded in the rescuer’s psyche that they look for crisis situations to manage and, sometimes when it can’t be found, will create situations where their invaluable help is called on. This is not necessarily consciously recognized but when their assistance is not desperately needed, these individuals do not feel happy, fulfilled, or even alive. Again this is an addiction, albeit often seen in a positive way by the receivers of such assistance.

Being able to come to the rescue allows these people a way to feel valuable and worthy. Taken to a bizarre extreme, we witness the phenomena of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Although this syndrome is fairly rare, less extreme examples are all around us. If an individual was praised as a child only for their ability to maintain calm and offer assistance in an emergency, this becomes a way for the child to continue to find value with others and self. This is the way the child feels fully loved.

What do habitual unconscious reactions, built-in automatic responses, and addictive patterns have in common? Often they are the learned consequences to events that happened in the past. When we find ourselves challenged in the present, our past memories can cause us to react without even knowing we are being triggered. We bypass the conscious thought process of what might be the best way to respond to the challenge in the present by triggering an automatic resolution that has worked for us in the past. Reactively responding to a present situation always means we are functioning from our memories and past experiences. By clouding the present with filters from the past, we lose objectivity and may not clearly see the present situation. New ways of approaching any situation, whether challenging or trouble-free, can be missed because we are entrenched in the old pattern of thinking and cannot see the new solutions or opportunities.

There are currently a number of methodologies to help us rid ourselves of no longer useful emotional and mental patterns. But before we can avail ourselves of any method, we must be able to bring these unconscious and subconscious patterns to the surface. It has been posited that conscious thought is only about 10% of all the thinking and remembering we do. The vast majority of memories and thoughts are below the conscious level. This can be a major stumbling block. How can we become aware of what is not recognizable?

Generally, how we feel about ourselves and others will reflect any biases we may have embedded in our memories that cause a habitual emotional response. If we are unhappy with ourselves, attention needs to be paid to ferret out what circumstances seem to trigger negative self-talk. If we seem to have a “go-to” emotion such as anger towards others, what is the true source of the anger? What are our thought habits? Do we tend to catastrophize events and outcomes or do we anticipate positive results? Do we seem to repeat actions that do not give us our desired conclusions? What do we really believe about ourselves in terms of our potential, capability, worthiness, and loveability? All of the answers will be reflected in our lives on a physical, emotional, mental and energetic level.

If our existences are in harmony with what we want out of our lives, then chances are that we are not going to act from past experiences and will not respond reactively. On the other hand, if we are not happy with how we interact with family and friends; where we are in our careers; our health; our romantic partnerships then chances are that we are holding onto and acting from outmoded or false preconceptions.

Some scientists posit that we hold memories and, therefore, behavioral patterns in all of our cells not just in the brain. This is one reason why there is such interest in energy medicine healing methods such as EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), Acupuncture, Energy Medicine, and The Healing Codes. By working with the body in ways that combine physical touch and activation, these methodologies can help to remove old ways of thinking and behaving by embedding new and more effective ways of functioning in the physical body as well as in the thinking mind.

Many individuals have found that unearthing old patterns through talk therapies alone have not done the job of removing the old habitual patterns. It certainly can help to bring awareness of old emotional templates but by going over old patterns repeatedly, sometimes individuals feel worse and can become even more stuck in the old ways of behaving and responding. Continually reliving past trauma can cause us to make the mental pathways in our brain that contain the trauma to become more entrenched.

We want to discontinue to think in those ways – to abandon the dendrite pathways that cause us to function in the old way. By taking the acquired awareness of what is below the surface (unconscious and subconscious thinking) and applying energy medicine techniques to clear the body of the old patterns, people can make remarkable changes in how they experience formerly troubling challenges. How and when they respond to a situation can become more considered and thoughtful and not a knee jerk reaction. By functioning without the filters of the past, an individual can operate from a more authentic place; from the standpoint of who they are in the present instead of who they were in the past. We stop limiting who we think we can be and begin to expand who we are capable of being. We begin to live in the present without the holdovers from the past.

Sheila Peters is a certified Eden Energy Medicine Clinical Practitioner, Reiki Practitioner, and wingWave©Coach. She also teaches classes and workshops in Stretch/Body Awareness, Energy Body Tune-up, and Jazz Dance. For more information, email Sheila at: sheilapetersdance@gmail.com, call 781-354-0725, or visit Sheila’s website at: www.energymedicineanddance.com.

Stay Balanced During Turbulent Times

We are currently living through very turbulent times. That may sound like an understatement to some. There is constant breaking news about the latest horrifying event that has come to the attention of the media both right and left leaning. Then there are the untruths, the fake news, the commentary, and comedic takes on what has just happened. We are being barraged with information. Day after day, we are relentlessly pounded with sound wave after sound wave of words, emotions, panic, and rebuttals.

It’s hard to stay balanced and centered when you are in the middle of a storm. It’s very easy to become reactive and ungrounded in any crisis. By reacting without thinking we may feel completely out of control, lash out at others, engage in self-destructive behavior, and spend countless hours worrying that we are powerless. When we feel powerless (read “victimized”), we can often lose motivation and energy to move forward. We are like rudderless ships being tossed in the stormy waves not knowing where to go, floundering endlessly.

How can we regain balance in such emotional upheaval? The first thing to do is to turn off the flood of words. Disengage, at least temporarily or for some part of the day, from the media: TV, Facebook, twitter, social media, and email. Walk outside and take some deep breaths and connect up with the earth. The earth is real – you can smell, touch, walk on, or dig into the earth. Listen to the birds, the breeze in the trees, hear the buzzing of myriad insects. Are there clouds floating by? Is the sun shining? Is it dawn or sunset, day or night?

Just by connecting with the earth, you begin to ground and center into a calmer sense of self. You can increase the grounding effect by taking your shoes off and feeling the grass under your bare feet and toes. Or you can sit with your spine against a tree and close your eyes and sense the energy of the tree’s roots running deep under the surface.

The earth is the source of yin energy. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine yin energy is reflective, internal, deep, solid, and inward directed. Yin energy can counterbalance yang energy which is active, assertive, superficial, hollow, and outward directed. Yang energies are what we receive when we listen to all the words that threaten to engulf us found in the daily barrage of news. By interacting with the earth, you gain perspective and are able to come back to yourself.

Even if you are not able to go outside due to weather conditions or you are stuck in your office, you can look out the window or view a photo of a favorite nature spot. Perhaps you have a plant that needs watering. You can picture in your mind’s eye a lovely picnic spot or favorite beach that you have enjoyed. Spend a few minutes looking at or imagining the view and allow yourself to feel the relaxation that surges through your body.

When you relax by grounding outdoors or in your mind’s eye envisioning a natural landscape, inevitably you will find yourself changing your breathing pattern. Are your breaths becoming longer and deeper? Consciously create even deeper inhalations and longer exhalations, perhaps with a hold at the top of the in-breath and a short hold after the out-breath. We often take shallow quick breaths when we are stressed, thereby robbing our blood and body of the nourishment of oxygen. We know that when the brain gets starved of oxygen, it panics, believing that death or destruction is possible. By giving the brain the oxygen it needs, panic can dissipate, and clear thinking can return.

In my Energy Medicine practice, most of my current clients are exhibiting increased signs of stress due to the turbulence we are living in. Western Medicine general practitioners are also speaking out about the amount of anxiety they are observing in their patients. The simple steps outlined above can have a positive effect on curbing stress levels. In addition, there are many other simple exercises that can help to increase balance and well-being.

One exercise that is easy to do no matter where you are is the Triple Warmer/Spleen Hug. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBnkg5uLr20. In this video, Prune Harris demonstrates, in a calming and bucolic setting, how to do this simple but effective exercise. Donna Eden, popular Energy Medicine pioneer, has taught this method of stress relief to thousands of people across the globe. Essentially this hug helps to re-balance the fight, flight, or freeze reaction of the Triple Warmer meridian to overwhelming stress with the nurturing rest and relaxation response of the Spleen meridian.

In another video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KycV6jXo3k0, Prune Harris shows how to hold the Main Neurovascular Points. We often automatically respond to shocking news by slapping a hand on our forehead as if to say “Oh my God!” This video explains how this instinctive action can help relieve stress and reprogram neurological pathways, providing multiple variations on how to accomplish this.

In this final video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZiVtQ3QGWA, Prune Harris shows how to do another Donna Eden exercise called Bringing Down the Flame. Engaging the Chakras and aspects of the Five Rhythms of Traditional Chinese Medicine, this exercise helps to release anxiety and angst and return the body and emotions to peace and calm.

We can help ourselves regain equilibrium during these challenging times. By doing so, we are able to provide a counterbalance to the overwrought and overwhelming general sense of chaos that surrounds us. By taking the time to feel grounded and centered, we are able to think more clearly and build the reserves of energy that will help propel us forward into more positive action. By giving ourselves simple tools and methods to disconnect from the tumult, we are giving ourselves a chance to refresh and reboot our perspectives, thereby finding more effective ways to ultimately change the world.

© 2017 by Sheila Peters. All rights reserved.

 

Sheila Peters is a certified Eden Energy Medicine Practitioner, Reiki Practitioner, and wingWave©Coach. She also teaches Stretch/Energy Body Tune-up and Jazz Dance classes and workshops. For more information email Sheila at: sheilapetersdance@gmail.com, call 781-354-0725, or visit Sheila’s website at: www.energymedicineanddance.com.

 

What is Energy Medicine?

Energy Medicine can seem mysterious but it actually is quite simple, while being extremely sophisticated at the same time. Our bodies are made up of flows and energies – the blood and lymph circulatory systems are example of flows. Donna Eden, a pioneer in Energy Medicine, states that she works with nine primary energies in the body. Meridians, chakras, and the aura are three of the nine and are probably the most widely known among the general public. Donna also teaches and works with the Radiant Circuits, Triple Warmer, Celtic Weave, Five Rhythms, the Grid, and the Electrics. The basic goal of Energy Medicine practitioners is to maintain balance of and optimal connection between these body energies and flows to prevent disease.

Energy Medicine is rooted in indigenous and Eastern health practices and disciplines such as acupuncture, acupressure, yoga, and qigong which also correlate with much of Western medicine’s understanding of the body’s systems. For example, recent research by a team led by Kwang-Sup Soh PhD, director of the Nano Primo Research Center at Seoul National University, South Korea, has supported and expanded upon the original 1962 discovery by Bong-Han Kim (North Korea) that the “Primo Vascular System” is, in fact, the meridian system. The research findings are based on the researchers’ insertion of a blue dye into the meridians of live animals to distinguish the tiny meridians from the larger blood and lymph vessels nearby. The dye also enabled the researchers to document the nodes (often referred to as acupuncture “points”) or intersections of meridians, as well as irregular electric pulses coursing through the meridians themselves.

This exciting research will “shift the level of the oriental medicine from the traditional wisdom and art with a long history to the biomedical sciences in [a] true sense. Furthermore, it will also bring a paradigm change in the regenerative medicine, cancer, immune deficiency or hyperactivity, pain control, stem cell therapy, and other important issues in the human health care in general.” (Soh, Kang, Ryu, 2013)

pv-slides

Slide from the August, 2014 presentation by Dr. Kwang-Sup Soh (South Korea)

Albert Szent-Györgi, Hungarian-born winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1937, wrote: “In every culture and in every medical tradition before ours, healing was accomplished by moving energy.” As Mehmet Oz, MD, has proclaimed on national television, “Energy Medicine is the next big frontier in medicine.”

Energy Medicine, as I practice it, is based on Traditional ChinSomatic Energy Medicineese Medicine (TCM) acupressure points, meridians, and chakras in conjunction with Eden Energy Medicine, Reiki, and other somatic techniques. Non-invasive methods such as tapping, holding, buzzing, and connecting various physical points on the body help to re-balance and center a person’s energy systems, releasing blockages, so that the body begins to heal itself. A typical 90-minute session will involve assessment of various basic energy systems and then a general energy balancing before tackling more detailed and specific work. Clients remain fully clothed and relax on a massage table once the assessment has been completed.

Self-healing is also a major tenet of Energy Medicine. In fact, no changes can occur without the permission and active agreement of the client. Unlike Allopathic Medicine (or Western medicine), which often relies on antibiotics, surgery, and other invasive interventions, Energy Medicine is non-invasive and seeks to empower the client to help heal him/herself, often through simple exercises, modifying emotional and thought patterns, and by becoming more conscious of the body’s functions. Because Energy Medicine requires the active participation of the client, the client feels more in control of how his/her health improves. Proponents of Energy Medicine view its effectiveness as a strong complement to Allopathic Medicine which has proven successful in emergency situations where surgery or antibiotics can provide immediate relief. Energy Medicine takes the broader perspective that the emerging global wellness movement embraces: awareness and early treatment of imbalances in the physical and energetic bodies can help to prevent illness as well as transform precursors to disease or somatic weaknesses in order to prevent them from developing further.

stressOne of the major causes of illness in our society is stress. We are continually stressed by emotional situations in our personal lives, at work, and in the world at large. The recent presidential election is a case in point. Many people found that their assumptions about the political climate were inaccurate, resulting in post-election feelings of shock and fear, and not knowing how to proceed. In Western medical parlance, the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) of these individuals was highly activated producing a sense of “fight, flight, or freeze.” However, in this case, there was nowhere to run, no one to fight, and freezing was really the only viable option. Activating the other half of the Autonomic Nervous System, the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), which activates the “rest and digest” reflex was proving to be difficult for these individuals. In my practice, I found that balancing my clients’ Triple Warmer and Spleen meridians helped to relieve the state of “freeze” and allow clearer thinking, enabling the client to move forward and begin to process the election results in a more helpful way.

Although this recent event was a trigger of stress for many, smaller less dramatic events can trigger stress as well. An example might be a tight deadline at work where the information needed to complete the deadline is dependent on co-workers who are procrastinating in producing the information. Another example is being on vacation but still having continuous access to the myriad work emails and texts that bombard the vacationer’s cell phone. Perhaps a young person is overwhelmed with the choices, requirements, and necessary application documents associated with applying to college. Or a much loved elder parent/grandparent is undergoing changes in their ability to care for themselves, placing a new burden on their now adult children. These events can cause the SNS to rally and cause the body to exhibit the increased hormone levels associated with the fight, flight, or freeze response. When stress is unrelenting or becomes a habitual response, the body and its organs suffer. Interestingly, the Japanese language contains a word for death caused by excessive stress.

Energy Medicine is a wonderful antidote to stress without resorting to medication or more invasive techniques that may lead to long-term complications. Along with the benefit of immediate stress relief, a client is also provided with simple exercises as homework to help continue the energy balancing and centering gained in a session. Practicing these exercises on a daily basis can help the body to form new habits in terms of dealing with everyday stressors.

In addition to calming the nervous system, Energy Medicine can also help reduce anxiety, alleviate pain, improve concentration and comprehension, increase vitality, strengthen the immune system, and help boost focus. Sessions help support clients as they traverse major life passages – births, deaths, marriages, divorces, changing jobs, or major life transitions. Energy Medicine is at the cutting edge of new beliefs and theories about how best to support health and healing. Energy Medicine leads to increased energetic health which then translates into physical, mental, and emotional health.

 

 

IMG_0195Sheila Peters is a certified Eden Energy Medicine Practitioner, Reiki Practitioner, and wingWave©Coach. She also teaches Stretch/Energy Body Tune-up and Jazz Dance classes and workshops. For more information email Sheila at: sheilapetersdance@gmail.com.  For more information, visit Sheila’s website at: www.energymedicineanddance.com.