Today, when I got up, I was agitated. So history: I am staying with Mom and co-caregiver with my sister and brother-in-law. She is on hospice and in her last months or weeks.
There are a couple of things that I do with her, to support her, that tick me off. We do these activities every day. As I even write this, I can feel my chest tighten, jaw clenched, breath holding, and angry agitated thoughts.
One might say, “why are you doing this thing that makes you upset.” That is a very good question. Let us explore. The “activity” can be anything. I have not named the particular activity for privacy. You can pick an “distressing activity” for yourself and substitute it in this article. I have chosen to support mom in her transition, in the way that she needs to be supported. The activity is about and for mom, not me.
I am aware that you can’t really have “hate” and “joy” in the same experience. Hatred stimulates different hormones in the body than joy stimulates. Hatred fires up the body’s fight, flight or freeze stress (sympathetic) system pushing out adrenaline, epinephrine and nor-epinephrine. The brain becomes alert to TROUBLE. The blood flow to the gut is directed away from the stomach to the muscles so that you can fight a battle or flee (run away), or freeze. Thoughts can go in all directions of negative thinking “what if”, “if that”, “I won’t”, yada, yada. You can fill in your thought pattern.
Joy stimulates the para sympathetic system with dopamine and serotonin. Here you feel calm, peaceful, joy, gratefulness. Much nicer place to be.
I have decided to be in joy. How to I move from “hate” to “joy”. How can I emotionally expand so large that the thorn in my side is of no consequence?
Of course I have an emotional tool box to help me as I walk this path with mom. HeartMath is one of the tools. It is very simple and profound. They have a technique Attitudinal Breathing
Step 1, take slow deep breaths. Feel the cool air moving into your nose, down the back of your throat into your lungs. Slowly exhale the warm air and feel it move from your lungs to your throat out your nose/mouth. Do this breathing for several minutes. Feel your body relax.
Step 2, as you continue the slow deep breaths, start thinking of something for which to be thankful. It can be anything like a loved one, or a flower, or a sunset. Feel gratitude fill your heart. Allow you heart, full of gratitude for “(fill in the blank)”, to expand and fill your chest, your body and the space around you. Notice your experience, which may be different than mine. I feel, see, expanding space filling my body and the area around my body. I invite you to practice these 2 steps until it is second nature for you.
Today I wanted “JOY”. Once I was in the heart expanded space, I asked for JOY. Joy is a higher vibration than that of gratitude. May folks find it easier to be grateful for something and then move up to LOVE and JOY. When I do this, I can feel, taste, smell JOY. My edges soften and it brings a nice smile to my face and heart.
If I lose my way (which I do from time to time), I simply stop and repeat the steps. In short order I return to blissful JOY.
Practice. I invite you to practice.