the ocean is never calm and still, but the depths are very different from the surface

Come in

It’s an ocean
Big enough for us all
Float under the bridge with me
Or wander out to distant ships at sea
Stay on the surface
Or come down in the depths
Leap out and crash back in whale form
Or surf the wake of a boat
Or in the waves to catch a fish
Storms come and rain and rainbows
Sky with clouds lightening sun stars
Climb a rock or lighthouse or cliff
Or stand on a boat
But then return oh love return to the sea

___________

from 2015

He Who We Are Tired Of

I propose a quiet week.

I propose a week off.

No twitter.
No video.
No tapes.
No attention: that is, a week where we do not mention He Who We Are Tired Of.

We don’t read the twitter
the tweets
the discord
the insults
the stunts
the anger.

We interview the laundry worker at the White House.

“How are things?”

“Quiet. Today we are bleaching.”

“Wow, those sheets are really white.”

“Yes. They are.”

We interview a gardener at the White House.

“How are things?”

“Quiet.”

“Any problems?”

“There is a mole in the South Lawn.”

“Wow. Is that a problem?”

“Not really. Someone could step in a hole and hurt an ankle.”

“Are you using poison?”

“Oh, no, that wouldn’t be nice. We’ve done research and a live capture will move her to a really beautiful meadow in Alexandria. The owner likes moles. We send some South Lawn dirt along to keep her from being upset. We’re been very successful with this program, no complaints.”

“None have come back?”

“The bridges are a bit much for moles. They haven’t tried though, they usually find Alexandria quieter. The Easter Egg hunt is a bit stressful for moles, all those crowds.”

“That’s great! How wonderful.”

“Yes, all quiet here. I love my job.”

“Well, that’s the White House and Washington, DC update for today. Tomorrow we talk to a congressional window washer. They have an amazing view!”

 

For the Daily Prompt: trademark.

 

 

Stress and the sympathetic nervous system

People talk about adrenal fatigue: what is it that they mean? And how can we address it?

When we are relaxed, or less stressed, we make more sex hormones and thyroid hormone.

When we are in a crisis, or more stressed, we make more adrenaline and cortisol.

The pain conference I went to at Swedish Hospital took this a step further. They said that chronic pain and PTSD patients are in a high sympathetic nervous system state. The sympathetic nervous system is the fight or flight state. It’s great for emergencies: increases heart rate, dilates air passages in the lungs, dilates pupils, reduces gut mobility, increases blood glucose, and tightens the fascia in the muscles so that you can fight or run. But…. what if you are in a sympathetic nervous system state all the time? Fatigue, decreased sex drive, insomnia and agitated or anxious. And remember the tightened fascia? Muscle pain.

When we are relaxed, the parasympathetic system is in charge. Digesting food, resting, sexual arousal, salivation, lacrimation, urination, and defecation. So saliva, tears, urine, and bowel movements, not to mention digesting food and interest in sex. And muscles relax.

If the sympathetic nervous system is in overdrive, how do we shut it off? I had an interesting conversation with a person with PTSD last week, where he said that he finds that all his muscles are tight when he is watching television. He can consciously relax them.

“Do they stay relaxed?” I asked.

“I don’t know.” he replies, “but my normal is the hyperalert state.”

“Maybe the hyperalert state, the sympathetic state, is what you are used to, rather than being your normal.”

He sat and stared at me. A different idea….

So HOW do we switch over from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic state?

Swedish taught a breathing technique.

Twenty minutes. Six breaths per minute, either 5 seconds in and 5 seconds out, or 6 in and 4 out. Your preference. And they said that after 15 minutes, people switch from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic state.

Does this work for everyone? Is it always at 15 minutes? I don’t know yet. But now I am thinking hard about different ways to switch the sympathetic to parasympathetic.

Meditation.
Slow walking outside.
Rocking: a rocking chair or glider.
Breathing exercises.
Massage: but not for people who fear being touched. One study of a one hour massage showed cortisol dropping by 50% on average in blood levels. That is huge.
Playing: (one site says especially with children and animals. But it also says we are intelligently designed).
Yoga, tai chi, and chi kung.
Whatever relaxes YOU: knitting, singing, working on cars, carving, puttering, soduku, jigsaw puzzles, word searches, making bean pictures or macaroni pictures, coloring…..and I’ll bet the stupid pet photos and videos help too….

My patient took my diagrams and notes written on the exam table paper home. He is thinking about the parasympathetic state: about getting to know it and deliberately exploring it.

More ideas: http://www.wisebrain.org/ParasympatheticNS.pdf

I like this picture of Princess Mittens. She looks as if she has her head all turned around. Isn’t that how we get with too much sympathetic and not enough parasympathetic nervous system action?