Letting The Waves Still, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:15am

It’s been quite a week. Big events, pivotal progress, so much managerial intent.

I woke up still full of the adrenalin that accompanied me Monday through Friday. Still processing statements heard and made. Which made me think.

Is our emotional system capturing time, in a textured sort of support for our traditional sensory memories? Do significant events initiate surges of hormonal and neural activity that continue to ripple after the fact?

It would explain psychology. Freud. Childhood identity structures laid down over genetic infrastructure by strong emotional responses. And, as we know, all emotional responses are strong in babies. In fact I suspect that if I had a neuroscientist to hand she’d tell me they figured this all out 10 years ago.

But if we work like this, it reinforces the value of meditation and deep breathing. If we are built around a still center of self and awareness, if that’s native to our animal nature, we do ourselves a favor by silencing neurons and quieting hormones. Taking a minute to let the past finish playing out in our bodies before we accumulate any more present, and certainly before we borrow from the future.

All of which is a great excuse to sit on the sofa and listen to the hum of your refrigerator in the morning, before anyone else wakes up. To look out the window. To cut back your lavender, pull up some mint, and breathe. To take a break from time, even when you know it’s 9:15am.

Have a wonderful weekend.


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  • Good post this morning. Yes, we need to do this. It’s important.

    6:01 pm
    Lisa said...

    Thank you!

  • A physician friend told me years ago that childhood traumas (not necessarily from abuse, not necessarily physical)can be retained as physical memory, at a cellular level. . . And my RMT daughter tells me that sometimes pressure on a particular point will instantly evoke tears from a client, not tears of pain, but of emotional release NOT necessarily related to anything current in the client’s life. I can’t remember the term she used for it, but if I remember to ask her, I’ll tell you.
    Of course, that’s not really your main point, but perhaps it reinforces it — mind, body, emotions, they really can’t be separated and taking time to integrate them is important. Thanks for the reminder. May yours be a peaceful, restorative weekend.

    9:54 am
    materfamilias said...

    somato-emotional release is the term I couldn’t remember. . .

  • I’ve been told that when something tragic or jarring happens to work through the emotions as they come. Otherwise we are just tucking them away to build up and eventually it will all come rolling out–much healthier to work through them at the time.

    I think your idea is brilliant–maybe nothing dramatic has happened but just the ups and downs of an intense week. A mantra of a favorite friend: breathe out fear, breathe in love. That works, too.

    Thanks, Lisa.

    6:02 pm
    Lisa said...

    You’re very welcome.

  • On some level, I already knew all this….but I needed to read it anyway. Thank you. Of course, it would be much easier to take some time to process if my intense work week were not still going strong on a Saturday.

  • Hi Lisa! Well you really deserved your weekend!
    It did not take me long to find out I was not made for a stressfull worklife. I do enjoy the intense working-environment, but it’s against my code. I noticed others can recover much faster than I do (lets say over night). The editor of Germany’s famous newspaper “DIE ZEIT”, Marion Dönhoff (1909-2002) was said to have this gift: to regain strength in short time. I for myself feel as if I burn on both ends (which makes me the perfect employee for intense jobs), but I would burn too fast. Luckily I became 40 without the risc of being burnt-out but I made a decision, 10 years ago: I decided to quit working in the capitalistic IT-world and turned towards non-profit culture. Not that people working in cultural environment don’t risc to burn out. But at least those jobs come without pitches that ask you to work on a paper until 4am in the morning. :-)
    Knowing what my code is, how I work, what I need and what I can’t provide also meant not becoming a doctor. I have biggest respect for people working in hospitals. I assume they find themselves in your situation every other day, after those 72hours-shifts.

    Burn out and burning on both ends – these thoughts came to my mind when I read your posting. I am sure, everyone reads something different in your lines. Female hormons don’t make it easier, either. During “my days” I can’t even bear listening to the news on the radio while drinking my morning tea, every input is just too much. As long as I don’t throw my mug in my partner’s face. Just kidding!

    Enjoy those meditative noises around you. I envy you for living in a house, without those annoying neighbours behind the livingroom wall with their TV at full volume.

    10:38 am
    Paula said...

    PS: I found an article in English on Marion Dönhoff:
    you might like itt!
    “Her privileged upbringing gave her, she said, a great appreciation of home, dignity and freedom.”

    on working hard:
    “Among her many virtues, Dönhoff was an incredibly hard worker. Over a span of almost 50 years, there were few weeks when she did not pen a long article in Die Zeit. Yet she also wrote other books, travelled a great deal, met many of the leading personalities of the postwar era, and led an active social life.

    I used to see her regularly at the annual meetings of the Anglo-German Koenigswinter conferences, and came across her in Washington and Poland. She always cut an elegant figure, who was a good listener and a quiet courteous speaker. Grande dame she certainly was. But she was never pretentious: almost to the end, she also remained a working hack.”


    6:02 pm
    Lisa said...

    Very interesting. Thank you so for the link. A working hack. I like that.

  • So much scientific evidence to back up all the benefits of meditation. And, a very interesting article in today’s NY Times (online, so possibly tomorrow’s paper edition) about genetic memory is inherited into one’s DNA. It may not all be accessible consciously, but it’s there and affects us.
    I have a difficult time turning off the adrenaline and cortisol, and really need to discipline myself to meditate daily. One of my goals for the fall. Thanks for the great post and hope you’re breathing some calming lavender.

  • Perhaps a corollary of your theory is that we should put all we can into our work and activities so that the lingering vibes you describe will be positive and energizing.
    –Road to Parnassus

  • Meditation makes an amazing difference in my stress levels. When I’m able to remind myself that I am the one choosing how to perceive and react to the world, I find much more peace. Deep breathing, getting out in beautiful nature and listening to soothing music heals me. I use lavender and other essential oils daily for relaxation.
    Rituals for relaxation are wonderful.

  • Love the reminder to reflect and be meditative Lisa. Hoping to do more of that this remaining weekend. Hope yours is a good one.

    p.s. the idea for an all yellow dress party is genius. I would love to host one!

    xo Mary Jo

  • A friend of mine is a concert pianist and the day after a performance she always feels a little sick. She says it’s adrenaline poisoning since she tends to be very nervous when performing publicly. It gradually subsides over the day.

    Moving around, doing sports decreases stress hormone levels. I actually like those heightened performance-driven states but do not like to run in high gear relentlessly because it keeps me from letting experiences really sink in, gaining perspective and developing new ideas. That comes with quiet.

    6:03 pm
    Lisa said...

    Adrenaline poisoning. Exactly.

  • I am a meditation failure, but I sure dig the idea of a sabbath, despite being nonreligious. One day a week to rest and breathe and — most importantly — NOT WORK is good for the body and the soul.

  • Yes. We just got back from a peaceful walk in the woods. There is nothing like it.

  • “Taking a minute to let the past finish playing out in our bodies before we accumulate any more present, and certainly before we borrow from the future.”

    This sentence here may be one of the most profound things you’ve ever written.

  • My goodness I enjoy reading your thoughts as they so often mirror my own . Thank you for writing so eloquently you take me away to another time in my life when I had time for thoughts and time to write them.

  • Just lying in a meadow listening,and being part of nature,or listening to the crashing of waves on a beach restores equilibrium.

    Thanks for another great post,hope you are enjoying a calm Sunday.Ida

  • Congratulations on your productive week, may we conclude that “statements heard and made” contained lavish praise on your particular contributions to the team? Something tells me the answer is Yes. My conclusion is that this company that snagged you some 6 or so months ago has figured out exactly how lucky they were that YOU accepted their offer. Enjoy those laurels!

  • Here you go, if you don’t already know it:


    6:04 pm
    Lisa said...

    Hadn’t known this. How sad that he was caught plagiarizing.

  • Your sentence “Taking a minute to let the past finish playing out in our bodies before we accumulate any more present, and certainly before we borrow from the future” is a work of art.

    Thank you.

    6:07 pm
    Lisa said...

    Thank you.

  • I think we all need to pause and recharge and regroup and, really, to stop and breathe.

  • Quiet moments are essential.
    I could not function without Yoga and my garden.
    I read somewhere that hugs and owning a pet lower blood pressure.
    Hope you enjoyed your weekend.

  • My classes begin tomorrow–and your post describes exactly how I’m still feeling about my vacation. I need to shift gears and pronto!

  • I read a great book called “How God Changed Your Brain;” it’s actually more about how meditation changes your brain. It’s written by a neuroscientist and talks about how meditation and conscious breathing can shift our brains from the fight-or-flight response into a calmer state. I recommend it if you are interested in either the science of our brains, or how meditation works: http://www.amazon.com/How-Changes-Your-Brain-Neuroscientist/dp/0345503414

    Hope you have a good week :)

  • Sorry to come late to the party, but the answer is YES. Our brains are thusly wired, we think. Maybe. New and emerging findings show us all sorts of miraculous things we always suspected are really real. The leading mediator of med-speak for the brain curious is Dan Siegel, who’s written several books for the smart cookie who is not an MD/PhD. I also read a lot from Amy Banks. Amy hasn’t had time to get her book out just yet, what with parenting and a medical practice, but she’s brilliant. Google “mirror neurons” one afternoon if you’re bored and in need of being amazed by your own brain.

    6:08 pm
    Lisa said...

    Thank you. I will look these books up. I had heard of mirror neurons and was suitably amazed.